A Mindset for Learning

I first read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Ballantine Books, 2006) four years ago, but had heard of her work before that. (Watch Dweck’s TED Talk here.) The book resonated with me on many levels, including how it could help my son, who had recently injured his knee and could no longer pursue his dream of being a firefighter. The implications for the classroom were obvious, especially for older students.

But I work with younger students. How to frame this idea for them? I had no idea, and really no time to think about it. Fortunately, there are superwomen like Kristi Mraz and Christine Hertz in the world who make time for these important questions. In their must-read new book, A Mindset for Learning: Teaching Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth (Heinemann, 2015), they break down the elements of a growth mindset into five essential components, or stances. These are empathy, flexibility, persistence, resilience, and optimism. Kristi and Christine explain in detail how these habits of mind can help students see themselves as “ever-evolving and powerful agents of change, both for themselves and for their world.” 


Kristi and Christine also provide a step-by-step routine to introduce the stances using guided inquiry of a shared text. An appendix lists two dozen picture books that celebrate a growth mindset as a starting point for this inquiry. Once the stances have been introduced, Christine and Kristi provide strategies for fostering these habits and helping children use them as problem-solving tools. These include self-talk, storytelling, goal setting, and conferring, among others.

The research base for this work is included in every chapter, and there is an extensive list of works cited and books for further reading. Charts, forms, and examples of student work help busy teachers envision how they can integrate “a mindset for learning” into their classrooms. It’s important to note that this book isn’t “one more thing” to add to an already bursting curriculum. Creating a classroom that supports “an energized and engaged learning community” is the bedrock on which our students’ learning rests.

Listen to Kristi and Chrsitine talk about A Mindset for Learning during The Educator Collaborative’s Fall 2015 Online Gathering here.

I created this bulletin board at school to promote Kristi and Christine’s wonderful book to my colleagues:


Some of the books in this photo are on Christine and Kristi’s list of books promoting a growth mindset, but others are not. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about these books and more in the next few weeks.

Thank you, Kristi and Christine, for writing this important book, and for all you do to help teachers become stronger advocates for children!

2 thoughts on “A Mindset for Learning

  1. Catherine,
    I love the display! What a great idea that I’m passing on to elementary coaches! I love that Kristi and Christine made this so “do-able” for primary teachers. Most elementary teachers are believers but this book just makes the mindset work more intentional and therefore more effective!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love both Opening MInds and Choice Words by Peter Johnston for elementary teachers. Excellent. In fact I would give Opening Minds to parents of every baby! (Though maybe a re-write would be better geared to them…but I loved and love it.) Great post.


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