How To Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Students in Math

Cultivating a growth mindset in your math classroom is more than the cheerleading of "try harder, you got this!" While that is important, it's not everything.  If you present a problem to a student, and there is only one right way to accomplish the problem with only one correct solution, and all you say is try harder, the student may hit a wall, and if they are truly stuck and they can't get over the wall, then there they will stay . Teaching math as one strategy and one solution promotes a fixed mindset.

Students need more than one path.  Either another strategy to do the problem, which eventually will lead to the same solution.  Or another path to do the problem, which eventually leads to a different (although still correct) solution.  This promotes a growth mindset. I created this lovely visual to better explain.

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

one path and wall to show a fixed mindset two paths and one solution and two paths and two solutions to show a growth mindset

If you are not sure which type of problems to give your students, I have some that I created with this in mind. These Back-to-School activities were created for students to problem-solve and be successful.  They are back-to-school themed, but would work great for anytime of year.   With a low floor and high ceiling, these would work for a 6th, 7th, or 8th grade classroom.  

Here are some other great activities to incorporate a growth mindset in your classroom.  

math mindset questionnairemathematical growth mindset activitygrowth mindset posters


pin image includes text how to cultivate a growth mindset in your math classroom with a leaf calculator and pencil

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