Now versus Yet

Two students in your math classroom are struggling with a challenging task. After several unsuccessful attempts, you hear one of them exclaim in frustration: "I can't do this!" In this moment, where the student is feeling vulnerable, their expression of failure demonstrates a fixed mindset. Students who experience these feelings are consumed by their lack of success, imprisoned by the fear of being wrong. Researchers in one study found that students with fixed mindsets were much more likely to adopt strategies for avoiding effort (i.e. cheating, quitting) when confronted with errors. Wait... We know that a growth mindset can help children develop more confidence and less fear in accepting ch

The Power of Mistakes

Why do we feel bad when we make mistakes? For many people, young and old, mistakes bring feelings of embarrassment, fear, and even anger. We may feel judged, and in turn we see ourselves as inadequate. In our math classrooms, students are especially sensitive to errors. Many math lessons teach step-by-step procedures that must be followed to get to a single answer. In this framework, it's easy to see how errors = failure. Wait... Errors, mistakes, and failure often act as triggers for fixed mindsets. Once students begin to fail, their insecurities and fears take over.Thoughts like "I'm just not smart", or "I'll never be able to do this" overwhelm the experience, and the learning process shut

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