Adopting a Growth Mindset can Help Others Grow
A change in mindset might not only affect you, but also the people around you. A recent research study found that when teachers changed their mindset from believing that only some students could learn math well to believing that all students could, student achievement increased.
“When teachers adopt a ‘growth mindset’ about maths, the gains are notable especially in light of the fact that the effects of successful educational programs are often quite modest,” says co-author and Stanford University professor Jo Boaler. “As teachers reevaluate their own potential as learners, they are more likely to embrace new forms of teaching. This helps their students build confidence, develop positive attitudes, and, ultimately, achieve better test scores.”
For the study, 40 fifth-grade teachers in the United States took an online class that was designed to give them a different approach to mathematics teaching and learning, exploring new neuroscience and effective teaching methods.
Students of these teachers achieved significantly higher test scores than those of a control group of teachers who did not take the online class. For the students whose teachers participated in the online class, their math scores on a standardized assessment rose almost eight points, which is the equivalent of three and a half months of additional lessons.
The increase was especially significant for girls, English language learners and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Girls’ performance on the test translated to six months’ worth of additional lessons, English learners advanced nine months, and economically disadvantaged students achieved an equivalent of an additional five months.
So, what did teachers do differently to spur this growth in their students? They shared their own learnings from their class about neuroscience and brain plasticity. They also encouraged their students to think differently and to share alternative ways of solving math problems. Finally, they taught students to embrace and learn from their mistakes.
Students reported to the researchers that they felt more engaged and positive about math.
Do you exhibit a growth mindset with each one of your clients or could you be bringing an unconscious bias about their potential to your coaching engagement? If it’s the latter, you could be hindering their progress. Consider your own continued growth and potential and be open to clients’ problem-solving methods. When you believe in your clients’ abilities, they will, too.