Forms of Teaching

There are a number of forms of teaching with a variety of different styles, and subjects. No two teachers will be exactly the same. Teachers’ personalities and backgrounds will also make each classroom experience different.

LearningThat being said, although teachers will all have different ways of teaching, we should make sure that we have one aspect in common, the way we develop our students’ mindsets and future learning.

There is one incredibly important fact that comes into play when preparing students for the future: mistakes are okay. Even better than okay, they’re an essential part of the learning process.

In Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she describes two mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Throughout the book, she gives examples of the mindsets in a variety of settings: at school, at work, in sports, and even in relationships. The main idea is how we react to various challenges in our lives and our outlooks on setbacks and successes.

Fixed Mindset

The fixed mindset first and foremost believes that our abilities and our skills are static. That they are given to us at birth and we are incapable of improving those abilities. “I can’t play tennis, I’m just not good at it” or “You’re so good at math, you must be naturally talented.” Phrases like these suggest that people, 1) did not need to work hard at becoming successful at something and 2) they are just naturally gifted.

Since people with the fixed mindset believe they are naturally gifted at certain subjects they view failures with utmost disgust. Failure means they are actually not naturally talented. They take failure as a brand for themselves.

Although, teachers don’t realize it, they actually use diction in the classroom every day that promotes this type of thinking. “You are so great!” “Oh wow, you are so smart!” “You really have a lot of talent for English!” Although, these are words of praise, they are actually having an adverse affect on our students.

What happens when these students make a mistake? They get a bad grade in English or they fail a test. All the praise for being smart and talented seems like a lie. The student then believes, “Maybe I’m actually not smart” or “I failed my English test, I’m actually no good at English.” Instead of making these incidents teachable moments, they instead brand themselves as failures.

People with the fixed mindset will even blame other people for their setbacks. “The teacher just doesn’t like me,” “The room was too cold to take the test.”

Growth Mindset

The main idea of the growth mindset is that your skills and abilities all have the potential for growth. Of course, some people will start off better in some subjects than others, but how many times have you seen these people start to slip and others surpass them.

Those who are gifted with abilities sometimes feel they don’t need to work hard to keep them up. At that point, in comes someone with the growth mindset who believes, with hard work, he can improve himself.

People with the growth mindset take a setback or a mistake and say, “What can I do better next time?” They take each setback and use it to improve next time. People with the growth mindset understand that it takes time, dedication, and hard work to achieve something they really desire. Nothing will come to us overnight or in a span of a couple weeks.

The most terrifying moment for any person is when they have worked so hard and so long for something only to fail in the end. It’s devastating and I’m sure we have all had it happen to use at some point; however, growth mindsetters are more likely to take the risk and bounce back than those with the fixed mindset, who are more likely to brand themselves failures.

The Classroom

So how can we promote this type of mindset in the classroom? First of all, encourage mistakes. Mistakes are essential. No one learned anything important without making a TON of mistakes along the way, especially learning a language.

Change the diction we use in the classroom. Say things like, “Wow, great job! You must have worked really hard!” “Your math is really good today, have you been practicing at home?” “I’m really proud of how hard you’re working on your English!”

Make an environment where your students feel safe and comfortable to make mistakes and learn from them. Be careful of the praise you give your students, but congratulate them with each victory, including the mistakes!

Are you currently a teacher? Did you teach in the past? We would like to hear your thoughts on this article. Let us know in the comments section below. 

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