First of all,
I’d like to thank each and every single person who has ever read my blog and helped me spread some knowledge out there. I truly wish you success in any endeavor you choose to pursue. After all, success is pretty much all we discuss during and after this festive and fattening period, isn’t it? Some might say we talk about love, friendship, happiness, change and the like, but aren’t these things closely related to success? If you have love, friendship, work satisfaction, that means you’re happy, which means, in turn, that you have success. By the way, here’s a blog post with a lesson plan about success.
Now let me ask you something. Are you one of those people who make the (in)famous New Year resolutions? Do you promise to make yourself very happy, like Ross did back in 1999? The problem is: after a couple of weeks everything is pretty much forgotten. Those promises (to lose weight, to get a new job, to travel more, to work on something you really love) fade away before Valentine’s Day. I am certainly a victim of these failures. I have promised myself I would change things that really mattered and never did really act on them to make real change, you know? What is the problem? Can we not change? Do we not have what it takes? Answer me this:
Do you believe you are a certain way and you cannot change the “essence” of who you are and that your intelligence is practically immutable?
Do you think you can substantially improve yourself, make yourself more intelligent and work on your social skills and personality?
If you agree more with question 1, chances are you’re a person with a more Fixed Mindset. If number 2 seems more like what you would answer, you’re probably a person with a more Growth Mindset. Having a more Fixed Mindset, according to Dr. Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success means you think talent and the so-called inborn traits, such as intelligence, social and other academic skills are the key factors that will determine how successful you are. However, if you have a more Growth Mindset, you understand the importance of challenge and making mistakes, always having effort as the base of everything you do.
You see, a more Fixed Mindset individual tends to stay in their comfort zone doing the things they know they’re good at to be praised by their peers and feel awesome. They avoid challenge and effort as, in their mind, those things mean they’re not so intelligent. They are also more likely to cheat if they get a bad result or grade the next time they try. Now a person with a Growth Mindset focuses on the process and knows that what gets them where they want to be is the effort. They like being challenged and want to learn from their mistakes.
Dr. Dweck tested several students and interviewed or analyzed the lives of CEOs, sports coaches, parents, and teachers and came to a conclusion that may change the way you look at things: people with a more Growth Mindset are more successful. And the best news I can possibly give you this year is that you can practice and change your mindset. There is hope after all! So, I’m going to list a couple of conclusions or tips I got from her book and inspire you to make new resolutions or keep the ones you made going:
1- You can make yourself “more intelligent” by making the effort and practicing. If you’re struggling with something, work harder, try different strategies, ask for help. You can do it;
2- That student that may seem hopeless in your classroom can change. Tell them about Carol Dweck’s conclusions and make them realize they can change. Praise their effort and not so much the result. Give them good feedback and set high standards that they can meet;
3- Learn to identify when your Fixed Mindset persona strikes. Learn the cues, the triggers and talk your Fixed Mindset persona out of their fixed mindset ideas. Let’s say you procrastinate too much when it comes to exercising. You want to go running or cycling and this Fixed Mindset persona comes in telling you: “Come on, it’s raining today. Let’s watch another episode of Vikings on Netflix”. You need to convince your Fixed Mindset persona that exercising has several benefits, including to your brain. It helps if you give this persona a funny name like Evil Twin, Dr. Lazy or whatever you choose;
4- Don’t get so frustrated if you don’t achieve your goal right away. Watch Dr. Dweck’s TED Talk below about the Power of Yet. Remind yourself you’re not there yet, but you can still get there if you try harder, stay on it, and change your strategies;
5- Start small and celebrate your small victories every day. If you told yourself you were going to do something and you stuck with it until it was done for the day, tell yourself: “I’m awesome!”. Reward yourself monthly if you can go through with the things you planned;
The truth is, folks: shifting from 2017 to 2018 does not open a magical portal that will change things automatically. December 31st and January 1st are only dates 24 hours apart and when you look at the Cosmos, they mean virtually nothing. Another lap around the sun. It is you who needs to change your attitude if you want different things to happen. And to be very honest, if you embrace a more growth mindset, I truly believe you can do it. After all:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result
Now I’m not saying you’ll be able to change your mindset so easily and you’ll probably still have a fixed mindset for many things or situations in your life. What I’m proposing is for you to look at yourself and your students with different eyes and help them and yourself place more value on effort and not giving up. I promise things will be very different if you try.
One of my goals this year is to win the Pearson ELT Teacher Award and I won’t give up getting the votes I need. If you liked my first post of the year, please help me win this competition by voting for me. You can vote every day until the 25th. I’d love to count on your help. Click on the image below, vote for me and help me achieve my dream.
What about you? What are some of the things you’d like to change this year? I’d love to hear from you and let us all have a wonderful 2018!