Importance of Positive Messages

There has been a lot of talk recently on fixed and growth mindset and how they relate to young learners in particular. Mindset and it’s importance is not something new or revolutionary but rather the in depth examination of its power has caused educators and parents to pause and really be cognizant of not only their own mindset but the young and burgeoning mindsets of their students and children, whom they influence daily. While recently reading an article by Stanford Professor of Mathematics Education, Jo Boaler I was struck by how important it is to send positive messages to your students in order to foster a growth mindset. In Kindergarten I hear “I can’t” a lot. It makes me sad because I think about how young they are and how they might already have these beliefs that they cannot do something. In our classroom we talk about how the only way you “can’t” do something is if you do not try. If you make a mistake it’s proof that you are learning. Mistakes are important. Mistakes need to happen. If everything were easy all the time it would be boring! This strikes close to home because I grew up thinking I was bad at math. No one ever told me I was, it just seemed so easy for others and I was struggling all the time. I just got it in my brain that I was “not good” at math and that I would never be good at it. Full disclosure, I still struggle with this but teaching math to young children has helped me move closer to a growth mindset on my math capabilities. Educators must celebrate even seemingly small achievements with their students. This can make such a difference. These are small things we probably already do throughout are day but just making a point to do this can bolster a child’s confidence to keep trying, not give up and be proud of themselves. Reminding children of how smart they are and how much they have already learning and accomplished is crucial to their growth mindset. If a child tells me they “can’t do math” I remind them that use to not be able to talk, feed themselves and walk, but they can do all that now because they tried and they practiced. I know that sounds silly but it really works. They have clear examples from their lives of things they couldn’t do before and now they can. We hold a powerful position in the lives and minds of our students. We are their cheerleaders and their advocates- the messages we send must be positive and genuine in order for real learning to take place.

 

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