Last week I wrote about the dangers of finding ourselves in what Carol Dweck terms a Fixed Mindset. This week I want to explore the concept of a Growth Mindset a little more.

Much of the work I do in schools is around enhancing engagement. Often I’m asked what should ensure all kids and teachers have access to in order for this to happen?

MacBooks or PCs? An intranet-based LMS? A peer coaching approach?

My answer is usually – before we worry about any of these – we should ensure everyone – including teachers and parents – is equipped with a Growth Mindset.

Those in a Growth Mindset understand that regardless of their abilities and talents – whether they be superstars or struggling – they have the potential to improve, do things differently and see the benefit of sharing their experiences and time.

But more than that, a Growth Mindset is essential if we are to see the real benefits of any of the more obvious interventions and strategies. For example, a peer coaching approach – whilst by far one of the most powerful strategies for change and improvement – only has impact if those involved are open to challenging and improving themselves and their craft.

In a Growth Mindset, Dweck suggests that individuals take on challenges, knowing that in the likely event of their failure, they will learn from the experience. They seek out feedback, not shying away from the negative, rather using it to propel them forwards. In a Growth Mindset you persist in the face of setbacks and revel in the effort it requires to succeed.

If you can imagine each of these behaviours as a continuum, Growth and Fixed Mindsets are polar opposites.

Recently I’ve been talking with teachers and student about this and we’ve discovered that you might find yourself in a Growth Mindset in the morning but a Fixed Mindset in the afternoon, often depending on what you’re doing, who you’re with or the consequences attached to success or failure.

The skill is being able to recognise and leverage the factors that put you in your Growth Mindset.

Next week I’ll share some great resources that can help you do just this!

Author: Dan Haesler is a teacher, consultant and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. His website is: and he tweets at @danhaesler