In the first quarter, my students learn about the power of “yet.” I tell them that even though they may not understand a math concept “yet,” with perseverance they will eventually understand and overcome. They also learn about changing their self-talk by simply adjusting words and statements. This gives them a more positive outlook on their potential.

2. Reinforce a growth mindset throughout the year

Each week in my homeroom class, we read aloud books that have a twist on growth mindset. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, and What Do You Do With A Problem, by Kobe Yamada, seem to really reach students. The books spark great discussions about the differences between growth and fixed mindsets. They also illustrate why making mistakes is an important step in the learning process.

We blend Standards for Mathematical Practice with growth mindset as we talk about persevering and talking through common problems. The two go hand in hand when it comes to emphasizing perseverance and development. From there, I give them weekly STEM-based challenges. All of the problems are open ended, which allows students to explore different avenues to succeed in the challenge.

I also use Matific, an interactive gaming program I align with my math curriculum. It challenges students in a way that pushes them to keep moving forward. The gaming episodes help my students progress individually, no matter their level.

How to instill a growth mindset in your students

3. Measure and share progress

Matific has an integrated reporting tool that shows teachers where students are excelling and where they are struggling in math, based on the math games they complete. I use this feature to track progress for my academic success groups. I can see which students understand the concept and which ones need more practice.

From there, I can assign personalized gaming episodes and regroup my lessons accordingly. This boosts students’ motivation tremendously, because they’re assigned episodes that are at their level, so they have an opportunity to feel successful and see growth in their work.

Using assignments and tools that complement my discussions about embracing the challenge of math ensures that instilling a growth mindset in my students is an ongoing process.

About the Author:

Ashleigh Ziehmke is a fourth-grade math teacher at Spring Hill Elementary School in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.