A Growth Mindset is an attitude towards learning; that of an individual who will embrace challenge, practice and refine skills until mastery is attained, accept individual responsibility for development and who enjoys learning for the sake of learning. There are two defining principles that underscore the inculcation of a Growth Mindset:


Intelligence can be improved (it is not ‘fixed’)

When students believe they can develop their intelligence, they focus on doing just that. Not worrying about how smart they will appear, they take on challenges and stick to them… They don’t necessarily believe that anyone can become an Einstein or a Mozart, but they do understand that even Einstein and Mozart had to put in years of effort to become who they were.”


Praise is for effort

“Process praise keeps students focused, not on something called ability that they may or may not have and that magically creates success or failure, but on processes they can all engage in to learn”.

[Retype the above and reference to Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck]
Working habits of students who develop ‘Growth’ mindsets include behaviours identified in the most successful school leavers. Growth Mindset working habits include:

  • Caring about and investing in themselves as learning;
  • Belief that effort is a positive thing – that hard work will bring success;
  • Belief that learning is important for its own sake;
  • Trying hard in the face of frustration and failure – a willingness to try again;
  • Looking for new learning strategies independently.

As teachers, our task is to establish an environment suitable to develop and encourage Growth Mindsets through these two defining principles. We can do this through:

  • The nature of the activities we set and structure of each learning experience,
  • The manner in which feedback (aural or written) is provided and responded to,
  • The values we exhibit and encourage as role-models through our own habits.


Negative FM student self-speak (Phrases to challenge explicitly)‘Process Praise’ teacher-speak (Phrases to challenge Fixed Mindset language)Positive GM student self-speak (Phrases to encourage explicitly)
I'm so stupidKeep tryingWhat am I missing?
I'm good at this.You’re not ‘good’ – you worked hard practicingI seem to be on the right track
I just can’t do Maths.Yet. Keep going.I’m going to train my brain in Maths.
This is too hard.Break it into smaller steps.This is going to take some time.
She / He’s so good, I wish I was as goodYou will be when you’ve practiced as muchI’m going to work out how he / she’s doing it
My answer is fine the way it isEverything can be improved. No-one has finished learningWhat can I do to improve?
Looking at examples / the mark scheme / feedback comments won’t make my work any better. I just want to know what level / grade I gotA grade means nothing on its own – we need to know why you got a grade, not whatThat’s an interesting idea for improvement. How can I use that in my work?