Motivating Students with Mindset coaching and How Brains Work (Dweck)

At my California school I am part of an Intervention Program designed to recapture at-risk students and make sure that they ALL earn their A-G credits to graduate. Our program will eventually be 4 years with varying levels of support depending on what students individaully require.

One way we are attempting to recapture students is to teach them how to learn!

A group of us is studying work by Carol Dweck, among others, and learning that in order to get smart kids, we have to do two things: 1. DON"T tell them that they are smart and 2. Teach them a Growth Mindset. Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success explains that there are two mindsets: Growth and Fixed. In a fixed mindset, people believe that intelligence and talent are fixed abilities. They believe and make life choices based on the assumption that people cannot change or improve their intelligence. In a growth mindset, people know and make life changes assuming that we can always learn and grow. That with hard work and good strategies, a person can become talented at everything s/he undertakes.

This work is very rewarding and transforming. The students respond in amazing ways. They cry, they giggle, they push back, and they sit in shock. One class has spent the last week fighting over who gets to wear the brain Jell-O mold (plastic) on their head all period (NINTH and TENTH graders!).

Do you have an interest in this work? Let's work together! We are all so swamped for time and resources. I used Dweck's book to write up a Mind-set quiz (not entirely accurate, but a good tool I think), some questions for a teachers' and/or student studying group, a list of what Growth feedback and questioning looks like, and a skeleton of a lesson plan model that reminds teachers to add growth-minded "stuff" to every lesson. I have not atttached it all (and all is borrowed from Dweck's research and book and articles) - but here is some of it.
This is a great Dweck article too :-)

I am willing to share and hope you might be too :-)

Tags: Brain, Dweck, Growth, Intervention, Lesson, Mindset, Reading, motivation

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If you are interested in this topic, check out my ning specific to this work!

Please join us!

Thanks for posting this.  I just finished a Stanford online class called "How to Learn Math" which is free for parents and teachers.   This class promoted brain growth learning for math...very interesting.  I plan to use this brain growth quiz with my students this week along with some brain videos, etc.

Those mindset coachings really helps to increase kid’s passions into learning activities. They always make sure to make one small change in their learning environment every time. For each small change they offer small ribbons and nameplates.


I am working on a professional development unit and would like to use your attachment documents. Will you give permission to use if I give you credit.

Beth Kabes -

Mindset coaching is definitely a great work out for the minds of students at this age. It is more appreciable and welcomed for carrying them out.

Mindset--an attitude, disposition, or mood. A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held (hold) by one or more people or groups of people that are so accepted that it creates a powerful motivation within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept advance behaviors, choices, or tools.It is absolutely vital for you to think of your life as positive.

Hi Emily, 

I am looking for ways to measure students mindset and start to develop growth mindsets, will you give me permission to use the quiz if I give you credit?

Hi Emily,
I am a doctoral student at ASU working on a project of developing growth mindset in the elementary math curriculum. I am seeking permission to use your Mindset quiz with two teachers pre/post treatment. Of course proper credit will be given. Thank you,
Becky Castiglione

Hi Emily,

Thank you for your awesome work in developing the Mindset Quiz and feedback guidance. I am a graduate student at Miami University and I plan to start my final project which is related to the relationship between the growth mindset and college students' adjustment. Could I get your permission to use this wonderful instrument?

Peihong Zhao

Oftentimes, people with learning difficulties benefit when they receive some sort of immediate reward and can track their progress when working towards a goal. So if you're wanting to build vocabulary and critical thinking skills, for example, you could have students work on a crossword puzzle while referencing an online crossword help tool. This combo can help them learn how to work out answers while minimizing frustration and the inclination to just give up when faced with a difficult question. It also helps teach resourcefulness :)

Hi Emily

I am involved in a project on student wellness and would like your permission to use the mindset quiz.




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