As some of you know, our school has been doing a Parent/Teacher book study on the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck. I am reading the book for the third time, and I am still finding parts that strike me differently depending on “who I am” when I read it. As a teacher, a parent, a wife, and a sometimes leader, I recognize different pieces of myself, my husband, my daughter, and other people I interact with on a regular basis.
There is so much to gain from reading this book. However, I know not all of you have the time to do this. You can get a sense of its message by looking at our Smore Book Study posters. These include links, quotes, videos, and more. You can also access more resources on my Pinterest Board.
These are the main things I have learned from the book that have impacted the way I teach and how I raise my child:
- Telling children they are “smart” is ultimately detrimental as they attribute all of their successes to an innate ability instead of hard work. This results in children who are unwilling to try new things or take on challenges. Praising them isn’t wrong; we just need to word our praises carefully. Here are some suggestions.
- We need to model how to react to setbacks (sometimes known as “failures”!) by taking responsibility, not giving up, and showing children how we learn from our mistakes. Most importantly, we need to not blame others when something doesn’t go our way. When we don’t reach a goal, think of it as not reaching it yet – not as having failed. Check out Dweck’s TED talk on the Power of Yet.
- Instead of making a big deal about grades, we need to emphasize learning. A’s are nothing to be proud of if they require little effort to achieve. I’ve already told my daughter that I would rather she make a B in a class where she learned a lot, then an A in a class that she coasts through. This may result in less college options – but it will make her a lifelong learner who is a problem-solver.
- I know I said this before, but model, model, MODEL! I tell my students stories of setbacks and ways I dealt with them (some of them not so well). I reflect out loud. I try to let them see me or hear about me stepping outside my comfort zone. When my computer doesn’t work in class, I try not to say, “I hate technology!” Instead, I show the students how I troubleshoot. The same goes for my daughter. She sees and hears about my struggles and knows I’m not perfect. (Since she’s at the age where kids figure that out anyway, I’m pretty sure trying to hid my imperfections would just teach her to deal with her own similarly.) If you want to show your children another great role model, try this video.
I’ve seen true differences in my students and my daughter since I began to apply the principles I learned from Mindset a few years ago. I encourage you to read the book and put it into practice, too.