5 Step Plan to Present Growth Mindset

 5 step plan to present growth mindset


A doctor from the UK, who is using my growth mindset self-study course to teach his staff about growth mindsets, asked me recently for ideas on how to prepare his upcoming presentation.  I gave him an overview of the steps I use for adult audiences, and thought this might be helpful to many of you!


So here it is!


5-step plan to present the idea of growth mindsets:
Create Buy-In
Plastic Brain Explanation
Key Phrase

Interactive Exercise


Personal Reflection


STEP #1 Create Buy-In
Show some type of research that shows how people with growth mindsets are more likely to demonstrate some type of improved outcome (I use studies that show this for education).


I sometimes start with this:


 “IQ & test scores are not reliable predictors of future success”

– Beliefs about intelligence and attributing academic success or failure to levels  of effort are stronger predictors of school performance than actual measured ability (ie., test scores)1


 Academic behaviors, more than tested achievement, predict course failure; positive academic mindsets encourage students to persist at schoolwork, which then appears as improved academic behaviors, leading to improved performance1


Source: Farrington, C.A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T.S., Johnson, D.W., & Beechum, N.O. (2012).Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research\


Here are two videos related to youth education that you can also use to show some of the research:




*Showing research helps create ‘buy-in’ before you launch into the concept.*


STEP #2) “Plastic Brain Explanation”:


The first most important ‘exercise’ I believe is to give them the brain explanation on how plastic our brain is.  I tend to explain the process myself (I use clickable markers to represent neurons, and show them clicking together once the pathway is connected)


But if you’re not as comfortable explaining that, you could use any or all four of these videos:


  1. I would start with the SENTIS video on neuroplasticity,
  2. followed by this Khan Academy video.
  3. Harvard Center for the Developing Child: Experience Builds Brain Architecture
  4. or my animated video – you can skip to around the 2 minute mark to get right to the brain explanation.
  5. my youtube video to show you how you can teach the concept on a whiteboard in 5 steps


STEP #3) “Key Phrase”


Then write down (or say) the key phrase that has been used extensively in the research – the phrase that research shows sparks people into adopting a growth mindset is:
“our brain is like a muscle that grows with use.”


Another neuroscience phrase for the idea of brain growth and pathways is:


 “Cells that fire together, wire together”,


Personally, I did not actually know about the term ‘growth mindset’ or the above phrase when I was originally explaining this to students. I just explained the idea of pathways, and how we can intentionally build pathways, or be unaware of our ‘default’/auto-pilot pathways. That seemed to be enough to spark new, intentional and positive behaviors.


STEP #4)  “Interactive Exercise”


Use this video with three 10-second exercises to help students move from fixed to growth mindsets  by introducing them to the idea of brain pathways and how we can apply the science of growth mindsets to keep us from repeating fixed mindset behaviors.


(You can show them my video, but I think it’s better if you learn it well enough so you can model the exercise in real-time and demonstrate the exercises yourself.)


STEP #5)  “Personal Reflection”


Have them reflect on (privately or as a group discussion) these questions:


a) how babies begin with a growth mindset:  as they learn to walk or talk, they fall down over and over again, but do not have the mindset that “I guess because I’m making mistakes, I’m just not naturally gifted at walking.”  If we are not born with a fixed mindset, where does it come from?  It is a learned response.


b) where in your life do you have a growth mindset, and where do you have a fixed mindset?  One indication is how afraid you are of trying something new.  Is there an area in your life where you are too afraid to change a habit or way of doing something even though it is not giving you the results you want?


(you can use your own words for that, or use the reflection sheets and discussion questions from the Growth Mindset Course)


So that’s an idea of how you can present the idea of growth mindsets to your staff, fellow teachers, or students.
Let me know if you need more, or have questions!


“The person who says it cannot be done
should not interrupt the person doing it.”
– Chinese Proverb
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