January 17, 2016

Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying

I'm not sure about you and your kiddos, but my fabulous fourth graders have a huge lack of perseverance. I find that when a task is a challenge, or requires them to think harder or outside of the box, they want to give up! They are quick to come to me with the usual "I don't know how to do this," or "this is too hard," or "what do I do now?" It is frustrating as a teacher, because I am trying so desperately to teach them to be problem solvers, to try different ideas and approaches.

I think a lot of this has to do with not wanting to fail. They would rather not have to struggle at something and simply have the answer handed to them. But I've realized (it's taken me a while mind you!) that spoon feeding them is NOT the answer. I am doing them no service when I tell them the answer for everything. They need to learn and discover, and yes, sometimes fail, on their own. It's not always fun, and sometimes they get frustrated, but when that light bulb goes off, it sure is rewarding for them (and me!)

With this struggle going on in my classroom, I've been putting a lot of emphasis on Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset essentially means that we know that we are always learning and growing, and even if we are not perfect, or even good, at something right away, it doesn't mean we can't get better. We are continuously evolving and growing. People with Fixed Mindset believe that they are either good or bad at something. There is no changing. We had discussions about what someone with a fixed mindset might say ("I'm not good at Math), versus what someone with a growth mindset might say ("This Math is a challenge, but I will try different strategies and do my best!). We read books. A favourite was The Most Magnificent Thing. We thought about times we have struggled and how we could have a growth mindset in these situations. We went on a scavenger hunt all over the school, answering questions all about Growth Mindset. And we made our own inspirational posters to encourage our peers to have a growth mindset.

I think my kiddos are slowly but surely understanding that it's ok to make mistakes! It is, however, not ok give up or not attempt. I hope that this is a mindset that they will carry throughout their school days and beyond. Life isn't always easy, but knowing you can learn and grow through every difficult situation is a life lesson I hope I can inspire them to remember.


  1. I love this. I work with title 1 kids so all I see all day are kids who struggle and have a hard time persevering when things are rough. Totally going to steal these ideas

  2. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post :) Pushing our students beyond their comfort zone is HARD but it's all about mindset - that its OKAY to fail! Good luck with your kiddos!