How to Begin Growth Mindset Instruction on the First Day of School

How to Begin Growth Mindset Instruction on the First Day of School

In many ways, you feel ready for the first week of school.  You have lesson plans mapped out, your intentions are set, and you feel fairly confident.  Outside of the curriculum, you may have lingering questions or doubts about how you can seamlessly infuse growth mindset instruction into your daily plans.

Get a few steps ahead by choosing one or more of these suggestions. It’s okay if your school year already started… it’s never too late to begin. Here are a few tips on how to teach growth mindset right from the start!

Your Classroom Culture is Impacted by the Environment You Create

The culture you create in your classroom begins the moment your students walk into your classroom.  What does the signage and decor in your classroom convey? Is it inclusive, welcoming, and positive?

Back to School Bulletin Board for Building Community

What does your demeanor and your approach tell your students about your belief in their abilities and potential? Did you include growth mindset specific verbiage on your classroom walls or bulletin boards? Dedicate at least one small, yet visible, space to growth mindset concepts.

Growth Mindset Posters Bulletin Board

Take a moment to reflect on how you feel about your new group of students? Maybe you don’t know one thing about any of them, but maybe you do? Throw away all the preconceived ideas you might carry about your new group of students. Trash every rumor you heard about “that student”.  Yes, I’m talking about the kid who was the talk of their prior grade level… the one who may have thrown chairs, yelled obscenities, and been in the office on a regular basis… that child aches for a fresh start.  That child has unlimited potential, too.  If you don’t believe that, they won’t either. Believe in your whole being that every child can surpass their own wildest dreams… and plant the seeds to make them believe it, too.

Give Your Students a Boost from the Get-Go

Allow students to choose a bookmark or sticky note message that immediately conveys how you perceive their unlimited potential.  Unique bookmarks or sticky notes are a perfect way to welcome your new students… and a wonderful opportunity to boost their confidence.

These simple, easy-to-prepare messages will set the tone for their confidence and esteem in the days to come.

Utilize Growth Mindset Picture Books

I’m here to tell you that students of all ages can benefit from picture books. In my opinion, the best picture book to kickstart growth mindset instruction is Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak. This book builds a foundation for all growth mindset concepts.

Brain science is legit… and your students need to know that. Starting with this book builds student buy-in. It will also limit your need to “convince” them about growth mindset in the days and weeks to come.

Use other books like The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, Beautiful Oops, and The Dot to follow up.  I said it before and I’ll say it again… it doesn’t matter what grade you teach.  Adults enjoy picture books and even if they try to show you otherwise, kids do too.

Growth Mindset Picture Books

Get Parents Involved

As a teacher, you understand growth mindset concepts. On the contrary, parents may only know what you (or their child) tells them about it. Guardians are not in your classroom to experience the culture you’ve created or the lessons you’ve planned. We cannot expect parents or guardians to mirror these concepts at home.. and it’s not fair to assume that they are living by these principles. The onus is on teachers to educate them as well.

If you’re looking for comprehensive notes to send home each week, you can find them here.  General pamphlets and one-page letters can also be found online.

Growth Mindset Information for Parents

Take time to share your philosophy. Make parents aware of the concepts behind growth mindset because their buy-in will ultimately impact student achievement and confidence.

Take a Moment Each Day to Focus on ONE Growth Mindset Concept

Map out a scope and sequence for helping students understand and live by growth mindset concepts throughout the year.  You can get a free copy of my scope and sequence here.  If you’re looking for something more and don’t want to create your own activities or you’re not sure how to teach growth mindset, you can also download a few free weeks of activities here.  The full year products with daily activities for any level from Kindergarten-9th grade is also in my shop here.

Growth Mindset Bell Ringers

Regardless of how you choose to structure daily instruction, carve out some time for reflection. Allow students to write about or take part in discussions related to shifts in their thinking.  Take note of shifts YOU see in their behavior, confidence, and mindset.  Making time for growth mindset instruction each day, even for just 10 minutes, will pay huge dividends in the months and years to come. Taking the time to really understand the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset can make all the difference.

Still feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to begin?  Take a look at 10 Things You Need to Know About Growth Mindset.  You will find a quick rundown of the most important concepts as well as book recommendations.  These concepts will give you a springboard for understanding how to teach growth mindset.  Reach out to me if you have specific questions or leave a comment below.

I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

Latest Posts