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Grade 4: Growing Through A Growth Mindset

When adults think of the term “growth mindset,” they might think of a concept they heard on their favorite podcast, or they might refer to it as a “to-do” item on their ever-growing resolutions list. 
Adults aren’t the only ones capable of achieving a growth mindset, however. Research shows that elementary-aged students understand this concept and that they are capable of developing a growth mindset and utilizing its benefits in their everyday lives. 
In fact, Carol Dweck, author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success states that “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” 

After discovering this powerful research, Graland’s Associate Director of Curriculum & Instruction, Nikki Spiers, shared the concept with Grade 4 teacher Amy St. John, who ultimately put the theory to the test in her own classroom. 

Through a series of activities, the Grade 4 students examined their own mindsets, how they can impact achievement, how the brain creates and retrieves new information, and how others have overcome a fixed mindset. 

To do this, Ms. St. John led the students through a series of exercises such as knowing the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, practicing positive self-talk through the creation of a comic strip, and filming advice videos to share with the Graland community.  

When asked why this lesson was important to her as an educator, Ms. St. John said that “Students often shut down or lose confidence when they make mistakes or encounter a task they haven’t done before. Understanding that mistakes are actually a way of learning can shift attitudes and create a classroom culture where mistakes are not only welcomed but celebrated. In this environment, students learn to take risks, knowing that their brains can do amazing things.”

After completing the growth mindset lesson, Ms. St. John shared that she observed a shift in attitudes and mindsets in her classroom almost immediately. “I was surprised by how quickly students became proud of the mistakes they made. We review homework each day, and often, I ask, “who made a mistake you think we could all learn from?” Invariably, several students always share.”

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.