By Nancy Weinstein

power-of-yetI’m a big fan of Stanford professor Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. It’s hard not to be. It’s evidence-based research that is encouraging. Carol Dweck’s research demonstrates that if a student tries hard and believes he can succeed he is very likely to be  successful. That simple. And the converse is true too. If you don’t believe in yourself that is likely to be self-fulfilling, regardless of your capabilities.

Adults Play an Important Role in Growth Mindset

Adults have HUGE influence in helping kids develop a growth mindset. Better still, it’s NEVER TOO LATE to develop a growth mindset.

Not surprisingly, schools are eagerly embracing Carol Dweck’s lessons of growth mindset. They are doing everything from measuring it with questionnaires, teaching it as a part of the curriculum, and re-training adults to speak to children in ways that will nurture a growth mindset.

Don’t Over Simplify

The biggest concern about growth mindset is not to over simplify it. Even Carol Dweck spoke out about concerns. Developing growth mindset is not quite so simple as teaching kids to stop saying, “I can’t do it” and start saying, “I can’t do it, yet“. It takes hard work and time. But, if you think you have a growth mindset, keep reading.

Be Specific with the Student and the Situation

Help students answer the obvious question that comes after “yet”. If I can’t do it yet, what do I need to do? Is it more practice? A different approach? More instruction? As Carol Dweck explains, “Studies show that people are terrible at estimating their abilities.”  So when they struggle they need specific guidance.

Instilling growth mindset, therefore, requires that adults use specific language that takes into account each child’s past accomplishments in that subject and their unique learning strengths and needs, so each child learns how to be successful in the way that works best for him.

Here are some examples of how to give specific, strengths-based feedback.


We hope your school year is off to a wonderful start. Please check out our free MindPrint Strategies to be sure your students have all the strategies they need to make this a great year.