If you’re anything like me, setting classroom goals can be a tricky process. That’s why activities for growth mindset are so important. Goals create drive, ambition, and many positive results, but they also create something that’s not so positive…fear. More specifically fear of failure. So how do we make sure we are setting classroom goals students can actually achieve? We use activities for growth mindset!
What Growth Mindset Can Do to Eliminate Failure
What growth mindset does, is it eliminates the idea, even the existence of failure, and makes setting classroom goals a lot less scary! I’m sure you have seen or given that big letter “F” on a test, paper, or other graded assignment at some point. This letter doesn’t provide positive feelings for the giver or the receiver. It’s a letter so dreaded that it might as well be excluded from the alphabet. That would be a hassle though, because just as the alphabet needs the letter “F,” your students need failure. Failure is a healthy, inevitable part of life that should be embraced and leveraged rather than avoided. Growth mindset turns the idea of failure into motivation to get better.
Want to use activities for growth mindset and strategies for independent learning to master literacy in 15 min a day? CLICK HERE!
Why Activities for Growth Mindset Are Essential To Student Success
In case you aren’t familiar with it, activities for growth mindset involve a shift of focus from a student’s limitations to their potential. Rather than the learned helplessness that comes with saying “I can’t do it,” growth mindset encourages students to say “I’ll keep working on it.” So now, when students are setting goals in the classroom, they see three new opportunities:
1. The opportunity to work harder with strategies for independent learning
Strategies for independent learning are vital to student success because they reveal opportunities to grow. When a student sees those opportunities(what were once called failures), they see how much more they can learn and achieve.
I was an “A” student. My whole life, the Principal’s Honor Roll was standard for me. This wasn’t because I was remarkable in any way, I just worked hard, and honestly loved to learn. I was and still am a proud person, and couldn’t stand anything less than excellence. It bothered me to my core to get a grade any lower than a B, and even that took some concession. There were a few times I would get low grades, work harder, and ultimately bring them back up. It was my failure that showed me there was more room to grow.
When your students fail, it’s important to show them this is a sign something has to change. This isn’t a roadblock, it’s an opportunity to grow and excel.
2. Activities for social emotional learning that encourage perseverance
As we learn with activities for social emotional learning, a child’s feelings are just as important as their education. If a student never meets opposition, they will never grow. Cliched though it is, Nietzsche’s claim that “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” is true. Because once you have undergone a stressful or challenging life event, you realize something: You’re stronger than you thought you were, and there are higher priorities in life.
My straight “A” career may seem like the perfect academic success story until you start peeling away what those “A” grades did to me. As I grew, it became increasingly difficult for me to accept failure. The issue with my aversion to failure is that it soon became a stumbling block for growth in my life. I wouldn’t set goals because I would fear not achieving them. Why strive for something if you could potentially fail?
Once I actually encountered failures, and more importantly personal setbacks in my life, I realized life is too short to fear failing. My father-in-law passed away from cancer. He was in his mid-fifties and none of us saw it coming. If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that kind of powerlessness and lack of control really puts things in perspective. There are some things we can’t control in this life.
You can do everything right and still fail. Forbes.com released an article in January of this year, stating that 90% of startup businesses fail. Do these failed business owners hang their heads in defeat? Some do, and some get up, brush it off, and become millionaires. Read these 29 success stories of familiar individuals.
3. Strategies for Independent Learning that don’t rely on success
How many strategies for independent learning do you think your students can use when they focus on failure? For whatever reason, we have very strong emotions connected to failure. It’s how we’re designed. This PDF from Indiana University in 2009, addresses the negative effects failure has on individuals psychologically, and more importantly, addresses the result a positive outlook has on failure. Continuing with my educational journey…
My AP US History teacher was tough. Most of my class time was spent listening to lecture, taking notes, typing those notes into my computer at home, and then studying those notes. This all culminated in epic tests that pretty much always had to be graded on a curve. That being said, this teacher gave us the opportunity to do test corrections. I have to admit, once I missed a question on a test, the memory I associated with that failure helped me better recall the correct answer in the future.
The moral of this story? Redefine failure in your classroom. You will not only have to redefine for your students, but parents as well. As you fully know, parents are sometimes harder on their kids than you are. Do what you do best and teach how challenges provide wonderful learning opportunities and you don’t recognize “failure” in your classroom.
Here’s how to use growth mindset for setting classroom goals
Setting classroom goals according to activities for growth mindset will make all the difference for your students. I encourage you to try something totally outrageous and please, please share your findings: The next time a few of your students fail a test, encourage a brave volunteer to stand up and share his or her “F.”(or otherwise “failing” number grade) Rather than feeling shame, encourage your student to celebrate.
Explain that you are celebrating this “F” because it means your student has an opportunity to learn and grow. Use this time to remind students that being incorrect is a part of life and it’s what we do with it that’s important.
Redefining or even eliminating the idea of failure gives the learning process to your students. You show them how to take ownership of their grades and you give them control over how to feel about them. They don’t have to be ashamed. They have the power to change their outlooks and their results. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
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Have a great week!
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