The Top Five Things I Learned from a Five-Year-Old About Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset Blog Header

The shiny new bicycle was forcefully shoved to the ground in disgust as Parker shouted,

“I cannot do it; I’ll never be able to ride my bike.”

To the parents out there, I venture to guess this triggers “fond” memories of youthful days gone by, but to me, not having kids, this experience with my five-year-old nephew was a first.

We had braved the unseasonably cold South Carolina weather for a mere five minutes before Parker came to this abrupt conclusion. Bundled in his winter coat and hat, he begrudgingly stormed off and sat on a rock on the side of the road. When I asked him why he was so upset, he fought back tears and explained, “Chase can ride his bike without training wheels, and I will never be able to.”

Now, being Uncle Chris, I wasn’t even sure who Chase was, but in this moment, I wanted to run to my writing notebook and sketch out this blog. However, I felt it best that I stay with the nearly-in-tears five-year-old to support him.

There’s a lot of talk about grit and growth mindset as it applies to education, and at this point, I would submit that most people reading this blog are not only familiar with these concepts, but probably way more well-read about them than I. However, in that moment, as I lovingly sat down next to Parker and put my arm around him, I had new reflections about how I would apply Parker’s learning experience to my own teaching and thinking.

Read more

Does the Language You Use Limit Your Learning Environment?

Does the Language You Use Limit Your Learning Environment?

I have long been skeptical of the “One Word” promises made at the turn of the new year.

On one hand, I totally get it; it’s an efficient way to stay focused on personal improvement. And like any goal setting, focus is essential to success; we often try to do too much with our goals — personally and professionally. In that respect, I see the value. However, the scope of one word seems, in some ways, too focused. I’ve struggled to see how a one-word focus would truly help me become a better me, a better teacher. But with this said, I also had no suggestion for a different approach.

So, as 2017 faded into the cold and dreary new year backdrop of 2018, I sat down to do my usual new year reflection and goal setting, resigning myself to this seemingly too-narrow approach for lack of a more effective strategy. It was while I scribbled in my writer’s notebook, jotting down key words and phrases that captured elements of my personal and professional growth that I hope to see improve in 2018, when the music in the background, which is always playing when I write, shuffled to a different song, grabbing my attention in a way it never had before. Having heard this song well over 100 times already, I couldn’t believe the way it was now inspiring my goal setting.

Read more

Mid-Year Check-in: Assessing Your Year So Far

mid-year check-in

Congratulations: You made it to January!

For many experienced educators, January can feel like an exciting time to reboot. For new teachers, January can bring back feelings of disillusionment that may have started around November (be sure to read this post on staying energized if you’re in the latter category).

Whether you’re feeling dismayed or excited for the rest of the year, taking just a few minutes to reflect and plan can often make you feel a little bit better.

At the beginning of the school year, Teaching Channel launched our Back to School Starter Packs, a set of checklists and resources organized by grade band to help you start the year off on the right track. Now that we’ve reached the midyear point, we’re offering you a simple review sheet to see how well you’ve done with all of your plans.

Read more

Dig Into Number Talks!

Number Talks imageHave You Tried Number Talks?

What strategies are you planning for building number sense and problem-solving skills this year?

Check out our Number Talks collection to see a daily, short, structured way for students to talk about math with their peers.


Read more

PodcastPodcastTch Talks 21: A Student’s Perspective on SEL in the Classroom

Tch Talks: A new Teaching Channel podcast

Does social-emotional learning really make a difference for at-risk students? In Part Three of our series on Social and Emotional Learning, Daniel McCutchen, a recently graduated student from Austin High School in Austin, Texas, joins Tch Talks to discuss his experiences in an intentional SEL-dedicated course. Daniel is not only a former learner, but also attends national conferences and presents on the topic with his teacher. Learn how SEL helped Daniel adjust to the demands and expectations of high school, to prioritize the most important things in his life, and to develop life skills that he is able to apply in a variety of circumstances.

Read more

I Want to get Better at… Growth Mindset Next Year

Summer 2017 - I want to get better at...
As you pack up your classroom, filing away lessons and deciding whether to keep or scrap student work samples, your mind may already be racing with ideas about ways you can make next year even better. You’ve probably heard about how having a growth mindset helps students to persist through challenges and take risks — and you may be thinking about how you can help your students do just that next year.

Want to learn more about growth mindset? We’ve got you covered!

Read more

Growth Mindset in STEM: EDP and the Writing Process

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

As a first generation college graduate, a decision I made early in life was to have a growth mindset. If you’re new to the term growth mindset, or maybe just on the hunt for resources, check out Teaching Channel’s Growth Mindset Deep Dive. While many people assume things in my life have come easily, I’ve spent my entire existence struggling to succeed. Blessed or cursed (depending on your perspective) with an insane amount of drive as well as a natural curiosity toward all things, my life has been a constant cycle of discovery, failure, retooling, and — mostly — eventual success.

This lifestyle has carried over into my classroom, as I believe that regardless of the content I’m teaching, it’s my duty as an educator to prepare all of the young people that walk through my door to face the challenges that lie ahead of them. That’s why I’m such a staunch advocate for the incorporation of the engineering design process into all classrooms. The EDP is the epitome of growth mindset and transcends the classroom into every facet of day-to-day life.


In that spirit, I continue to refine my practice. Every year, I identify one area of my instruction as a point of emphasis. In the past, these areas have ranged from classroom management, to individualized learning plans, to the integration of technology. One area I’ve been putting off is refining the writing process that occurs within my STEM course. Why have I been putting it off? Quite honestly, I struggle with writing. I believe in the value of writing, but freely acknowledge that it’s not a strength I possess. Opening up this area of my practice could be humbling, but it’s my hope that we (myself as well as fellow educators) will all benefit from this experience.

Read more

PodcastPodcastTch Talks 8: Sarah & Friends with Sara Kadjer


Sara Kadjer, professor of English Education at the University of Georgia, discusses her distinguished career, from middle school teacher to higher ed faculty. A pioneer in digital literacies and new media education, Sara talks about the greater complexities of the world today and the important role teachers play in helping young people navigate those complexities. Through it all, Sara is inspired by the joy of working with children and witnessing their learning. “Real innovation is not in response to anyone’s edict.”@skadjer

Read more

PodcastPodcastTch Talks 7: Sarah & Friends with Meenoo Rami


Meenoo Rami has taught high school English in Philadelphia, written the book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, and is now the Education Manager for Minecraft, the wildly popular virtual building game. Sarah Brown Wessling talks with Meenoo about her work in education over the years, with a special emphasis on being new to the profession.

Read more

Growth Mindset: Rephrasing Praise

Getting Better Together

Having a growth mindset is multifaceted. In part, it’s about persistence —  adapting and trying a different approach when the first attempt fails. People with a growth mindset see feedback as critique, rather than criticism. Learning becomes its own reward and ticking off goals along the way motivates the learner to continue.

Creating a classroom climate that is conducive to developing a growth mindset in students requires thinking about several points. Teachers think in terms of students setting worthwhile and attainable goals for themselves, engaging students in learning situations where they can work collaboratively and cooperatively, each contributing and learning from one another. Growth mindset in the classroom also means offering constructive feedback to help guide students’ next steps, and giving praise that highlights effort and resilience rather than the attributes students have no control over.

Read more