Students need to know that they are in control of their brains and their own development. We as teachers and educators can guide them to become independent, confident, and aware that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
Persistence, perseverance, and motivation are the keys. It is not about intelligence and the marks they get, it is about how they can develop their abilities and skills to reach their goals.
Dr. Carol Dweck mentions in her book Mindset that it is all in the approach. Children need to learn to receive positive feedback, and constructive criticism and learn that if one way doesn't work, they should try another method.
1. Fixed mindset vs. Growth mindset
Students can research what is the difference between these two mindsets and which one is best for us and for our well-being and development. Make bulletin board posters about the advantages of a growth mindset and how it is important to use the right words and not to reinforce being perfect.
Learn More: Cherry Workshop
2. Make Monday Mantra Day
We have all heard of mantras but we never thought about using them with middle school students or teens. With all the craziness that is happening around us, we all need a little daily pep-talk and encouragement to help us get through the ups and downs of our day.
Having a variety of mantras can give you a positive mindset and these classroom activities are loads of fun.
Learn More: Teacher Vision
3. Rewiring the things you say: Learn the Growth Mindset Theory
It is imperative that we listen to ourselves when we speak and take note of the positive phrases that we use again and again. If we tell ourselves toxic messages we could be creating an internal battle before the war has begun.
Have students get post its or colorful paper and write out simple messages that mean a lot and will help not hinder. Effective praise goes a long way!
Learn More: Develop Good Habits
4. Reading and life lessons
If you look back you can pinpoint the life lessons you have had. In teaching, we all have our own learning process and we try to create the right study habits but we need to consider habits of thinking and the students' individual abilities in and outside of the class.
It is a complicated process to teach positivity and really empowering mindset projects in the classroom. Here are some amazing books to help in the process of teaching growth mindset and life lessons.
Learn More: The Daring English Teacher
5. Never give up!
Time to roll up our sleeves and show that we are creative people by participating in a crafts class challenge. In this lesson plan, the students can exercise their basic ability to replicate a complicated shape of paper done only with one or two sheets of paper and scissors. This task opens up their thought process and starts to create positive ideas that they can do anything they want to.
6. Self-Reflection and Self-Portrait
Whether it be a drawing, a silhouette, or even a sculpture, this craft is focused on self-reflection of our faces, expressions, and how we see ourselves and how others see us. The common experience with most tweens and teens is that they are self-conscious and normally do not praise how they look.
By doing a self-portrait piece, they will explore who they are and what they like about their image. Around the portrait they can come up with strengths to write about themselves and the other classmates can add on. They will be surprised by how strong and beautiful others see them.
Learn More: Omaritani
7. Meditation and Martial Arts can help with achievable goals
Knowing how to disconnect from the tension and focus on your inner self is a great way to help with toxic messages that influence young minds. The idea of the growth mindset is thinking positively and retraining the way you think. We all have the brain power to do anything we want and meditation and martial arts will help to create inner strength and balance.
Learn More: Education World
8. Positive Reinforcement is a Plus!
Creating the confidence that the student has their own abilities and skills to succeed and endure without giving up. They know that saying "I am not good at math" is a fixed mindset but saying "It might be possible for me to improve in math" keeps that window of hope and the motivation flowing.
Using Gamification helps students learn how to receive positivity and give it to themselves and to others. Some activities you can do are 1. Compliment them like crazy. 2. Praise effort only 3. Set up an instant gratification system and 4. Teach them to nurture themselves and others.
Learn More: Positive Psychology
9. People are Plants
We all grow like plants, we need water and sunlight and nurture. Of course, school children are strong and resilient and they can adapt to any climate or weather. But over time the toxicity builds up and the negative messages start to sink in and our middle school students start to have self-doubt and suffer anxiety and depression at the age of 12.
Let's stop this in its tracks by creating positive brains and helping them deal with any difficult times on their own. Mindset Kits will help your middle students learn and grow while feeling good about themselves and their autonomy.
Learn More: Mindset Kit
10. I made a mistake Hooray - time to celebrate!
Society needs to move away from perfection and actually celebrate mistakes. If students make mistakes they will grow and actually become very productive adults. Professor Jo Boaler shows us how we can get students to challenge themselves and learn from our mistakes.
Learn More: Mindset Kit
11. Move Math to a growth mindset.
If we take a survey on the street and ask a number of people "What was your worst school subject"? Possibly 75% of them will say some related math subject. "I hate math." I am not good with numbers". Math is not my strong skill. Using the growth mindset tools you will be able to reboot the brain into thinking this math is challenging, but in time and with the effort it is possible to understand it.
Learn More: Mindset Kit
12. Growth Mindset "Cootie catchers"
Children love these cut-out and fold-up games where you choose a color and number and then watch the magic happen and unfold the secret message or as some say "cootie catcher". Middle school students can use their creativity in making a growth mindset paper games to play in and outside of class.
Learn More: Everything Mom
13. Zachary and Cold Water - The impossible is possible.
Encourage reading stories about overcoming fear and having to have inner strength and never giving up. Have your middle schoolers read the story "Zachary and Cold water" by Daniel Rusar and have them reflect on the message or theme of the story and how it relates to growth mindset and persistence.
Learn More: Selves Books
14. Music Makes a perfect mindset
15. "Can you guess which mindset it is?"
From Michael Jordan to Homer Simpson we have a great collection of short clips so that middle school students can identify the growth mindset and how some people have to change their chip. A great interactive activity for the classroom.
Learn More: Growth Through the Middle Years
16. Got your G.E.A.R?
17. Poster time for goal settings.
Make a mural or a huge poster to set realistic goals. If you see it, read it, and believe that daily it will happen. Teens can work with all materials to make visualization posters that will help them achieve their objective.
18. We are Strong is the way to Success
In the past, it was all about looks and now it is all about education and endurance. Kids today have it hard and they have to face a lot of challenges. Divorce, war, poverty, money issues, pandemic ... WOW that's a lot to handle.
So being strong is the new growth mindset.
19. Are you SMART?
This is a fun easy peasy visual board that all teens will love to make.
S= Be Specific in what you want
M= Measure out what do I need to achieve this goal
A= Is it really achievable on my own
R= Be realistic
T= Time Frame Set up