By: Kristin, M.A., CCC-SLP of Kiwispeech.com
Growth Mindset 101
If you’re new to the concept growth mindset, the general idea is that there are two different mindsets we can have – as people, and especially as learners and teachers.
The first, a fixed mindset – is the belief that we cannot change things about ourselves or our skills. People with a fixed mindset believe that we’re born with innate talents and that their actions have little impact on this. They value perfection, easy, and success. They avoid mistakes and challenges. They don’t take on challenging things.
Conversely, those with a growth mindset believe that with effort, they can make changes. They believe that their actions make a difference and that they can grow and learn new things. They value the process, challenges, and learning. The don’t avoid mistakes because they know that’s how they learn. They are happy to take on a challenge.
It’s also important to know that we do not always operate in only one mindset. We may fluctuate depending on the day, the strength of our mindset, or the type of task we’re faced with.
For more on Growth Mindset – check out these resources.
So here’s the thing…
In speech, we are so often focused on correct productions, repetition, and achievement of goals that it’s really easy to forget that the process of learning is really important. Additionally, we all know that (especially as kids get older) motivation is an integral part of making progress. Add the fact that speech (or language) is inherently difficult for the kids we see – that’s literally why they’re with us – and you start to see why using a growth mindset in speech is so important.
So if you’re ready to start implementing growth mindset into your sessions, one way to do that is simply to start changing the language you use.
1. That sound was hard for you. Nice job!
Providing positive feedback on effort as well as achievement shows your students it’s okay to have to work hard at something. When we only praise the great productions (and not the hard ones) we risk our students believing that those hard things should be avoided.
2. You should be proud of yourself for how hard you worked.
Reminding students that they should look internally for feelings of success rather than to others is one way to reinforce that it’s the personal growth that is important.
3. I can’t wait to challenge you again next time!
Getting excited about challenges and hard things encourages your students to do the same. Show enthusiasm for taking on new goals, tackling hard skills, and even the struggle that sometimes comes with them.
4. Awesome! You really took your time with that practice!
Yes, it’s great to get 100 trials, but we want those to be GOOD trials. I’d rather have fewer correct trials than 100 where the student is just going through the motions.
*As an aside to this, yes, there are principles of motor learning that come into play here especially with certain disorders (like CAS), where we know that more is better, but I still would argue that we need to value the quality of productions.
5. Look here at how much you’ve improved!
I like to really draw kids’ attention to any improvement I can show them. If they went from 0% to 10%, that can still feel really low to them. But, if I can show that line going up on a chart*, they are able to see their progress and hopefully continue to be motivated.
*If you’re looking for a great resource for measuring and showing progress – I use this resource (pictured) which allows me to gather my data on a single page and includes a chart for my students to graph their data.
If you’re interested in more growth mindset resources specifically for speech and language therapy, you might like:
This freebie of 10 growth mindset statements your STUDENTS should be using in speech.
This growth mindset bulletin board for your speech room.
You may also like this entire curriculum of growth mindset in speech – walking you through 15 growth mindset lessons and including everything from what to say, activities for your sessions, and homework to keep families on the same page.