Lately, the education world has been abuzz with discussions of “growth mindsets” and addressing the emotional training that gives students the resilience to overcome setbacks and perceive themselves as capable of change and transformation.
The conversations and lesson plans that have grown out of this concept have been incredibly valuable. It’s important to remember, however, that growth mindsets aren’t only valuable to students. They’re an important component for teachers to develop as part of their professional practice, too. What’s more, teachers may be particularly in need of growth mindsets because the nature of their profession can lead them to see a lot of challenges and stumbling blocks in the world.
Why Teachers Need a Growth Mindset
Let’s take a closer look at why growth mindset training may be particularly valuable for teachers.
- Teachers are stressed. Teachers tied with nurses among some of the most stressed employee groups. Nearly half (46%) of teachers report feeling stress on a day-to-day basis as part of their jobs. All of this stress contributes to a global epidemic of teacher burnout, and more than 15% of American teachers leave the workforce every year, taking their expertise and experience with them.
- Teachers carry their students’ emotional burdens. While not separate from the stress that teachers feel, it’s worth paying particular attention to the emotional workload of teaching. Teachers get the wonderful reward of seeing students grow and thrive, but the flipside is that they also see students who struggle. Teachers see students who battle food insecurity, homelessness, behavioral issues, and more. What’s worse, the hard stories tend to remain in their memories.
- Teachers see students in snapshots of time. Another reason that teachers may get disconnected from a growth mindset is that they often do not get to actually see the growth they inspire in their students. If a teacher teaches the same grade level for many years, they’re getting a sliver of time out of their students’ lives but don’t always get a chance to see how the lessons they impart develop years later.
For all of these reasons, it’s crucial that teachers use the same tools for resilience that they encourage in their students. Learning to see the world as a flexible place where change is possible is a necessary component of doing the job well and taking care of their own emotional health.
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Teachers can build a growth mindset in the same way their students do. Some practical tips teachers can take to build a growth mindset include the following:
- Practice gratitude. There are lots of exercises that are great ways to be consciously grateful in a way that will help shape a positive worldview.
- Find a network of support. It’s nice to have someone to vent to about career frustrations, but it’s also important to make sure that those networks have not become full of negativity. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and can help you find the positives.
- Watch your words. Words have power, and it’s important to be conscious of how you talk about our students, your career, and yourselves. You shape your perception through your language, so it’s crucial that you choose your words carefully.
With some focused steps, teachers can be well on their way to developing a growth mindset that will make them better teachers equipped to weather the inevitable challenges of the profession so that they are positioned to better appreciate its great benefits and rewards.