Teaching Positive Student Mindsets

Teaching Positive Student Mindsets

How people deal with challenges is contingent upon learning how to operate with a positive and growth mindset. The past year has been full of challenges as the world has catapulted into shutdowns, remote learning, layoffs, difference phases, and now distribution of vaccines. Adults and children have handled this whirlwind of emotions and changes in the best ways possible using positive mindsets.

A positive mindset is defined as “an attitude someone has who expects good and desired results.” Another mindset that people talk about is a growth mindset. Even if someone does not have a positive mindset all the time, they can operate from a growth mindset and can strengthen and develop their positive mindset with work. In a growth mindset, problems can be solved, people are flexible and open to ideas, and believe in the ability to grow and change. A positive mindset along with a growth mindset are essential for students to be successful in school. 

→ See how schools encourage positive mindsets in their classrooms

Teacher Modeling

It is known that teachers set the tone for their classroom. Teachers can model how to operate from a positive mindset and change a less-than-ideal situation into a positive environment. Teachers can model how positivity can change the outcome of situations and increase the success rate. If a teacher is deflated, angry, or sad, they can model how to talk about their feelings and soothing techniques to reset themselves and move to a more positive attitude. Teachers can show children that we cannot always control what is happening around us, but we can control our attitude and how we think and act. 

Create a Positive Classroom Environment

Teachers spend a lot of time developing their schedules, structures, and resources to build a culture that provides a warm, inviting, and positive environment for all students to thrive and be successful socially, emotionally, and academically. Teachers can create a calm atmosphere where students feel safe to be themselves, share, make mistakes, and take risks. 

Here are some things that teachers can do to create that positive classroom environment:

  • Fun, positive, and clean classroom set up
  • Including fun songs and videos for students for brain breaks 
  • Positive classroom community games, conversations, and meetings to begin and end instruction 
  • Use positive narration and nonverbal reminders before corrections and consequences 
  • Use Kickboard to give and track positive points and rewards for students to acknowledge their academic and behavioral effort and excellence
  • Use a social and emotional learning curriculum if provided one or teach mini-lessons on different emotions and feelings

Encourage Positive Self Talk and Thinking 

Positive thinking and positive self-talk are critical skills students need to learn and hone to be successful into adulthood. Teachers can help students learn these skills by modeling and practicing them during instruction and when students are struggling. For example, asking simple questions like, 

  • “What are you proud of in your work today?” 
  • “How are you proud of yourself today?” 
  • “Think about the other person/people involved. What might they be thinking. What is their perspective and how is it different from yours?”
  • “Where have you improved in your thinking around this problem?” 
  • “How has this situation helped you grow?”
  • “What is something you can affect in this situation?”
  • “Flip the script. What is a more positive way to describe the situation?”

Using questions like these will help students change the dialogue in their brains about themselves, their experiences, others, and the world around them. 

Use Positive Rewards and Incentives 

Perseverance is defined as continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. One way to teach positive mindsets is to acknowledge, incentivize, and reward student resilience and perseverance with their academic and behavioral efforts with Kickboard. Kickboard makes it easy for students to understand their behavior and academic goals and progress, for teachers to log, track, and analyze data, and for parents to stay connected each day with the opportunity to see notes and behavioral data through the Kickboard messaging app.

Teachers should use positive narration and nonverbal reminders for students before using corrections and consequences. This can look like circulation, pointing on a student’s paper, proximity, visual cues, and more nonverbals. This will help teachers keep the overall wording and culture of the classroom as a positive one. 

Teach Social Skills 

Lastly, teachers can teach positive student mindsets by implementing a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum in their classrooms. These lessons can be taught as its own block at the beginning of each instructional day or can be condensed and taught at the beginning of the lesson and then referred back to during the instructional content of the lesson. For example, if students learned about grit at the beginning, the teacher can acknowledge and affirm students who are showing grit during difficult academic content and even reward them with Kickboard points for showing grit. If your school or district does not have a specific SEL curriculum provided, you can teach mini lessons on different emotions and feelings to students by using a short video, song, story, hold a conversation and practice, and then refer to the skill during instruction.