Sunday, February 28, 2016

4 Strategies to Coach Kids into a #GrowthMindset

We have all seen at least one example in our lifetime of a person who overcame tremendous obstacles to discover unbelievable success.  Can you see that person?  Do you remember his personality?  Can you visualize his perseverance? Recollecting your person's tremendous accomplishments, you may be thinking to yourself the following questions:
  • What made them beat the odds?  
  • How did they succeed?
  • What do they have inside them that others don't?  
The answers to these questions typically leads us to the concept of growth mindset and how these excellence models intentionally put the GROW in their growth mindset through both their daily actions as well as their mental fortitude.  In today's post, I want to share with you how excellent people put the GROW in growth mindset, and how we teachers and leaders can coach kids into adopting this mindset.

The GROW in Growth Mindset
To help all kids to grow, we need to first define what the GROW looks like and then articulate how we can help all kids develop the skills that will help them grow into the success that is already deep inside them.

Goals that Grow
These people don't just have a long term goal.  They set daily and weekly goals for themselves that help them grow toward their goal.  They track their progress toward reaching their long-term goal and reflect on their daily efforts.  Based on goal-setting and reflection, they make adjustments to keep them on track and accelerate their growth.

These anomalies have never heard the word, quit.  In fact, they look failure in the eye and say, "You may have won today, but you haven't beaten me."  If they get knocked down 7 times, they will stand up 8.

There is an unbelievable discipline to these people.  They have a routine to their daily lives that is abnormal.  That is why they succeed.  They do things that ordinary people can do but choose not to.

Wins & What's Next
Successful people on the grow don't win or lose.  They win and what's next.  In other words, they celebrate their successes and determine what they need to do next to stay on their path of excellence.

How do we teach kids to GROW?
It can be a challenge to convince kids to believe in their ability to grow, but with the right growth coach and the right strategies, we can persuade kids to give growth a chance.  Here are four strategies to help you coach your kids into a growth mindset.

  • Growth Coach - We must first accept the notion that we don't teach kids.  We coach them by showing kids how to set goals that are based on improvement.  If kids base their excellence on the same standard, they will always compare themselves to one another.  Every kid is different; therefore, they need goals that stretch them from where they are to where they need to be. Our job is to help them create and commit to growth goals that are attainable. 
  • Relationships of Resiliency - When you base your relationships with kids on being their success coach, you are teaching the importance of commitment to a goal and then growing closer to it.  Sometimes kids don't see where they can grow, and they want to give up too quickly when they fail.  But if they have a positive relationship with you, they will listen to you and trust your advice and encouragement, even when they want to quit.
  • Organization - Kids don't naturally have the ability to structure themselves around their growth goals; therefore, they need you to give them organization that will help them do the right work that is directly tied to helping them reach their goal.  The key to growth is doing things that aren't fun or easy, so be sure to sell the importance of doing the work especially if it's hard.
  • Win-Maker - The best coaches can find the win in kids now and leverage that win to help them grow.  They do that by giving them specific feedback that tells them how well they're doing and how they can do even better next time.  They celebrate the now and the potential in what could be.

Growth is a hard thing for kids to chase because it is such an illusive and never ending target. Our job as leaders and teachers is to create systems and structures that are aligned with and promote growth. When we can create both a culture and a structure where growth is a the center of all work in the school, kids will not only accept growth as a goal, they will believe in it and ultimately grow from it. 


  1. Hey Pal,

    And I would argue that this work is even MORE important for kids who struggle in schools. Here's why: Traditional grading systems (think As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs) provide struggling students with little evidence that they are making progress at anything.

    Every kid learns during units, but they may not learn "enough" to move from an F to a D or from a C to a B. Every grade reinforces perceptions that kids have about themselves as learners. Focusing on progress over final grades reminds every kid that they are learners.

    Thanks for the reminder,

  2. Great list of practices. We have our admin and teachingredients staff paired up with students who need additional support. I plan on sharing this list with them.