9 Ways to Develop Growth Mindset in the Classroom All Year Long

Dr. Carol Dweck researched thousands of students. Her discoveries about growth mindset have had a direct impact on so many classrooms! That's because her work found that students with a growth mindset achieved more than those with a fixed mindset. Of course, teachers took action! Teaching lessons that help students develop a growth mindset became just as important as the other great lessons teachers teach...and that's a good thing!

Like many lessons that help students develop as learners, growth mindset is one of those concepts that lends itself to teaching many times throughout the year.  It's not a "one and done" concept. That's why I thought that it would be fun to compile a bunch of ways to help students develop a growth mindset all year long.  

Let's dive into those 9 ways to develop a growth mindset, shall we?

Music can be a powerful instructional tool. It can help make lessons more lively, meaningful, and inspirational. So, what better way to expose students to the core values of growth mindset than with a little music? Here are just a few songs that focus on persistence, courage, and perseverance...

➤"It's Not Over Yet" by for King and Country (an encouraging song about not giving up)
➤"Rise Up" by Andra Day (a motivational song about staying strong)
➤"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (a classic song about fighting through adversity)

Besides just playing the songs in the classroom, you can make the messages in the growth mindset songs "stick" with these activities:

---  Pass out the lyrics of the songs. Then, have students select their favorite growth mindset line from the song. You might have students write the lyric on a post-it note. Then, they can discuss their favorite lines with the class or even stick them on their desks for daily inspiration.

--- Send students on a growth mindset song hunt. Challenge students to find songs that have a growth mindset theme. Or, have students find an artist that has demonstrated a growth mindset in his or her life.

--- Have the class pick a growth mindset theme song. Perhaps students could vote on songs that you've selected.  Or students could bring in growth mindset song "contenders." Then, the class could pick a growth mindset song to be the class's theme song. You could play this song and discuss it's meaning at different times throughout the year.

If you're looking for ways to get students excited about developing a growth mindset, the trick may just be with doodles! When students doodle or create sketches of something, they activate different parts of their brains. Doodling helps students make connections to their learning, so what better way to drive home the concepts of growth mindset than with doodles? Here are a few ways to help students get their "doodle on."

➤ Doodle Desk Cards - These FREE doodle desk cards combine growth mindset quotes with growth mindset words and expressions. Students combine doodling with inspiration as they create desk cards that can sit right on their desks as a constant reminder of growth mindset. 

➤ Doodle Growth Mindset Makeovers - When discussing the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset, challenge students to doodle what they look and feel like with a fixed mindset. Then, have them give those mindsets a makeover with another doodle.

➤ Doodle Article and Notes - I've also put together a super fun Doodle and Do resource that combines a doodle article and notes. Students doodle their way through learning about growth mindset before they complete 4 engaging activities (many from the ideas I'll share below).  It makes learning about growth mindset so fun and meaningful!  

After students learn about growth mindset, it's fun to give them a chance to reflect on times when they have demonstrated a growth mindset. I love to use the analogy of a lock and key when discussing growth mindset. A locked lock represents a fixed mindset or a challenge. The key represents a growth mindset. When students have a growth mindset, they can unlock any challenge. You might use this same analogy in your classroom and pair it with a reflection. This analogy works great as the basis for a class discussion, but I've also turned it into a simple reflection activity. 

Help students develop a growth mindset with this fun reflection activity.  First, students reflect on their own growth mindset.  Then, they add their ideas to a lock and key.  Perfect for a bulletin board display!

All you need is a open lock and key graphic. Have students write a challenge that they have faced inside the lock shape. Then, discuss how having a growth mindset can help students overcome the challenge. Task students to write about their growth mindset inside the key. I like to add string to the key and hang it around the lock shape. This reflection activity is great because students can connect growth mindset to their own lives!

What's better than helping students develop a growth mindset AND building classroom community at the same time? That's why I love infusing growth mindset into collaborative activities!  Here are a few ways to do just that...

➤ Have pairs of students or small groups write Growth Mindset Skits that they can perform for the class. Present the class with a fictional challenge. Then, have groups write one skit where the main character responds to the challenge with a fixed mindset. Have them write an additional skit where the character responds with a growth mindset. Encourage students to be over-dramatic when creating and performing the skit. This makes for fun discussions, funny skits...and tons of learning!

➤ Give groups of students Growth Mindset Discussion Cards. These do not need to be fancy. You'll just want a set of 5-7 cards with targeted questions for students to discuss about growth mindset.  

Get students thinking deeply about growth mindset with discussion cards.  Students can work in small groups to discuss thought-provoking questions about growth mindset.

A great way to demonstrate the power of growth mindset is with historical figures. When students learn that great leaders and change-makers overcame challenges, they can see first-hand that intelligence and success is developed, not innate. Here are a few ways to develop growth mindset with history...

➤ Combine research, writing, and growth mindset with Growth Mindset Research Projects. Have students research famous people and find evidence of their growth mindset. Take it a step further and have students make fun 3-D projects!

Help students learn about growth mindset as they research famous people with a growth mindset.  Then, have them turn their research into a 3D growth mindset project!

➤ Set up a Growth Mindset Person of the Week. Each week you could discuss a famous person and his or her growth mindset. Some of my favorites are Malala Yousafzai, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Albert Einstein.

➤ Read biographies about famous people who have a growth mindset as a read aloud to students. Take time to discuss how the person demonstrated a growth mindset in his or her lifetime.

Instantly engage students as they learn about growth mindset with a fun art activity or project!

➤ Art with Jenny K. has an amazing resource where students create a huge collaboration poster displaying famous people with a growth mindset.This art project is fun to do any time of the year, but it also makes an incredible Open House display!

➤ Have students design coloring sheets with Growth Mindset Quotes. Then, you can create copies for the class. The entire class can work on each other's sheets at the same time or you can set them aside as an activity for fast finishers.

➤ Challenge students to draw silhouettes or their faces (or provide generic templates).  Then, have students fill the silhouettes with words and images from magazines that represent growth mindset.

Providing students with lots of opportunities to write is an awesome way to help students develop a growth mindset. I'm particularly fond of using writing prompts to spark writing in the classroom. You might give students different prompts throughout the school year. They could even create a Growth Mindset Journal where they respond to the different prompts. Or, you could have them make fun Writing Prompt Pockets with growth mindset prompts. 

Make learning about growth mindset fun with these writing prompts!  Based on quotes, these prompts will have students thinking and reflecting on their own growth mindsets!

Students can create fun growth mindset writing prompt pockets.  Filled with their responses to growth mindset quotes, this writing activity is meaningful and creative!

No matter how you do it, getting students writing and reflecting on their own growth mindset is a win! Here are a few prompts to get you started...

--- Write about a time when you had a fixed mindset. What challenge were you facing? What thoughts were going through your head? How did the fixed mindset impact your success?

--- Imagine that you are visiting a classroom in a lower grade. When you arrive, you see a student struggling with his math work. He tells you that he's terrible at math. He even crumples up his paper. What can you do to help him? How can you teach him about growth mindset?

--- Give one of your thoughts a "mindset makeover." What is something you struggle with? What do you usually say to yourself about that task? Now, give those thoughts a makeover. What new thoughts could you think to help you have a growth mindset?

Another way to help students develop a growth mindset is by giving them opportunities to see how the adults in their lives have a growth mindset. To do just that, you could...

➤ Model growth mindset in the classroom. You're one of most influential people in your students' lives, so be sure to use growth mindset statements throughout your day. Be open about your struggles and model how you can respond with a growth mindset.

➤ Get parents involved.  Set up a collaborative writing prompt with students and their parents. This is especially fun at Open House, but you can do it at any time throughout the year. Just download this FREEBIE and get students and parents writing about growth mindset.

Make Open House or Curriculum Night especially meaningful with this collaborative growth mindset project!

Poetry is a quick and easy way to develop growth mindset. Poems like "Listen to the Mustn'ts" by Shel Silverstein and "The Man Who Thinks He Can" by Walter D. Wintle are great! Once you find poems that relate to growth mindset, you can use them to highlight growth mindset in lots of ways. You could...

➤ Pair a poem with a couple of targeted questions for morning work. Then, discuss the poem and students' responses.

➤ Give small groups a poem along with a few discussion questions. Students can read and analyze the poem together. Then, as an entire class, you could discuss its connection to growth mindset.

➤ Teach the critical skill of poetry analysis with a growth mindset poem. My favorite way to do this is with interactive flip books!

Use poetry to teach growth mindset.  Help students analyze the growth mindset poem with an interactive flip book!

➤ Select a poem to read aloud to students. Reading poetry can even help students settle back into learning after lunch or a special. Check out my favorite poems to teach growth mindset here.


Well, there you have it, 9 ways to develop a growth mindset in your classroom all year long. 

Ready to teach growth mindset all year long?  Then, you'll love this collection of growth mindset activities and ideas.  You'll find links to free growth mindset lessons and tons of inspiration!

I hope you've found some ideas to help your own students develop a growth mindset!  Don't forget to download the FREE growth mindset doodle desk cards and writing prompts here...

Check out this FREE growth mindset activity!  Students create doodle desk cards with growth mindset quotes.  They can leave the desk cards on their desks for inspiration all year long!

AND if you're looking for even MORE ideas, be sure to pop over to Laura Candler's blog. She's teamed up with some awesome teacher-authors to share more growth mindset ideas!  

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Mary Beth

Doodle notes is a trademarked term used with permission. Please visit doodlenotes.org for more information.


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