Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mindset: What's Holding You Back?

What do you believe about yourself that you would like to change today?  I once thought that I wasn't a writer.  I was competent at it. I even wrote a dissertation with that belief system about myself as not a writer. No matter I still didn't see myself as a writer and wouldn't describe myself that way.  My belief changed when I started participating in the Slice of Life blogging challenge.  I got plenty of practice. I had a goal.  I received feedback. I put my time there. Now I believe in myself as a writer.

My daughter sees herself as not a writer and not a mathematician. When my daughter struggled writing her essay on Sunday night, she said, "I am just not a good writer."  I agreed with her!  As you are gasping to yourself about what a horrible parent I am,  stop now! I continued with these words, "As long as you believe that about yourself, it will be true."  I believe that!  I understand how her belief system will limit her growth in this area based on Carol Dweck's work, Mindset . I understand that not only does she need to practice writing but also rethink what she believes about herself as a writer.

Part of my job is motivating people and part of my life work is motivating myself.  Books like Dweck's Mindset inform me about my work and my world. At the core of Dweck's work is the idea that individuals can have fixed or growth mindset.  You don't necessarily have to be all one or the other. You might have a fixed mindset about certain aspects about yourself and growth mindsets for others.  What I find most interesting is that I have a growth mindset about my professional life and am constantly learning every day. Yet personally I limit myself personally.  "

I've been thinking about my mindset for the past two months and what changes I would like to make. I didn't set any New Year's resolutions and I didn't even choose my one little word this year.  I do know what I need to accomplish for myself personally.  Part of that challenge is grappling with my thinking about my issues.  I have a fixed mindset about some aspects of my personal life and that affects my behavior and my choices.  I have rendered myself powerless in some areas giving my locus of control away to external factors when I actually do have the power. I just need to shift my mindset.     One that I am currently grappling with is the belief that I am not a runner.  I am a runner, not the kind of runner that I would like to be yet.  In fact that one little key word, "yet" is a way to begin to challenge a fixed mindset when you hear or say the I can'ts or I am nots. The most important idea from Dweck's research is that we can change our mindset and help
 our students change theirs.  It just takes work.

Questions that I would like to keep thinking about.....

What are we communicating to kids as we, their English teacher say, "There is a reason I am not the math teacher? "

Where do our mindsets initially evolve from...when things become hard and we don't see improvement?  I remember being shocked when my daughter at 18 months said that she wasn't good at math.

A question that I would love you, my reader to think about...

What mindset would you consider beginning to unfix today?  


  1. Your post resonated with me and I am so glad that you shared it. I really love Dweck's work on mindset. For years I possessed a fixed mindset regarding my ability to do math, and like you with running, it's something that I grappled with. I've realized that I've been hampered by a severely fixed mindset. Now, my fixed mindset is slowly evolving into a growth mindset. However, that evolution is a process:)

  2. Just read a piece tonight on growth mindset and staff development on Edutopia. I'm a big fan! If we talked less about testing and Bloomboard, and counting data, and focused more on reflection and growth mindset, I think then we'd really shift the halls of education today! Great writing! Looking forward to more!

  3. Yet... Can help turn a fixed mindset statement into a goal oriented statement.

  4. I love Carol Dweck's Mindset! I have taken the SOL challenge as part of changing who I believe I am as a writer. I liked when you said, "The most important idea from Dweck's research is that we can change our mindset and help
    our students change theirs. It just takes work." It definitely takes work but each little step even stumble feels so good when you are learning and growing! Great questions posed at the end.

  5. This is a great post! Such an important topic and your ideas are so well articulated. I find that I frequently have to have chats with myself about my mindset. Definitely being/not being a writer is one of my issues. Success in relationships (all kinds of relationships) is another frequent topic. And I would love to add runner to that list. I want to be a runner. Unfortunately, I want to be a runner while I'm sitting on my couch in front of the space heater. Those two things don't go well together.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So true.

  7. You are a life coach in a reading coach's clothing, Beth. I've always thought I wasn't very good at math and had that mindset until I discovered accidentally that I had taken more math courses in high school and college than a math specialist in our area. It was that ah-ha moment that I realized I was allowing this myth of only being good at one or the other (math or language) to persist. Why? I'm not sure... but I've since stopped joking about having poor math skills. It's not true, and it's not the message I want to send to students.


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