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Inclusion Column

The Power of: Yet

By: Rosy Saucedo

For the past 17 years, I’ve witnessed how ASFM has been changing and growing into the school that we know today. Moving into the fourth year of being an Inclusive school I keep going back to the concept Carol Dweck has researched for the past years: fixed vs. growth mindset. It is well known the positive impact of the growth mindset around inclusion.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.

Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can get smarter, they realize that their effort affects their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

So, how are these concepts related to Inclusion? Adults play an essential role in the child’s development (in every way); the power of stereotypes (fixed mindset) versus the power of the “yet” (growth mindset) in the child school journey is an essential key. As adults, we can empower the child’s ability to engage deeply in their process of learning, in developing, even more, their abilities (and yes, more brain connections!) The way we interact with them, the way we reinforce their learning is the big difference in constructing a fixed or a growth mindset. What does this mean? Recognize and reinforce the effort, the strategies, their focus, their perseverance, and the improvement. As a result, children will become more resilient, will embrace challenges and changes, will see mistakes as learning opportunities, and will be flexible enough to take risks. Every time we push children to learn something new and difficult the neurons in their brains can form new and strong connections. All of this with the power of growth mindset.

I have found how powerful the word “yet” can be. Showing children that they are in a learning curve gives them a sense of control and confidence that they will get “there” and as an adult, you are recognizing the skills needed for any kind of learning and challenge; believing in them. Children will or can become what we expect of them. If we show a fixed mindset of “he/she always misbehaves”, “he/she has a hard time with math”; they will live up to those stereotypes. In my experience changing expectations and embracing the powerful “yet” word into our minds and language and into theirs, can deeply impact our and their sense of self-perception. Children learn so easily from our verbal and nonverbal reinforcers.

James Anderson has shared the concept of a “Fixed vs Growth Mindset Continuum”. He mentions the idea that we can stand in different places in the continuum for different strands. I have found that this concept can represent more whereas adults (educators or parents) we stand. Whether you believe you are capable of making changes and embracing challenges might determine the way you think and approach other people are capable of change. One might perceive the effort as a path for mastery, however, might ignore feedback and criticism.

The growth mindset concept can become vulnerable, fragile or even inexistent in a society where children are being raised for “now”. Unfortunately, children show a crying need for constant validation of their achievements; and adults do give in and reinforce those behaviors which take children farther away from developing a stronger growth mindset. For this reason, we need to be intentional about transforming the meaning of effort and challenge in their lives.

Here are some tips. Listen to yourself: When your child is struggling, what is your reaction? Do you get frustrated? Do you acknowledge some of the steps taken towards the desired end? Do you praise only expected goal or learning that took place? Model a growth mindset: Children observe and imitate us. Let them know about your own challenges and how you can set up goals and stick to them; the challenges and the mistakes you make in the process of achieving that goal. Mistakes as learning opportunities: Use these experiences as means to learn what was missing in the formula to get to the desired end. Finally, be intentional and use wise words: Reinforce process and not product. Acknowledge the small steps and the perseverance instead of the final outcome.

As ASFM continues to move forward with being an Inclusive community we need to reflect upon ourselves in the way we view challenges, effort, feedback, making mistakes, and accept help, among other things. Reflecting in these areas will impact the way we interact and encourage learning in children.

Bibliography:
Ray, J., Weller, C., Derler, A. Why Growth Mindset Is Crucial to Inclusion. (2019, January 3).Retrieved from https://neuroleadership.com/your-brain-at-work/growth-mindset-crucial-inclusion/
Dweck, C. The Power of Believing that You Can Improve. (2017, July). Retrieved from
https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset (What Characteristics Are Critical to Success (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.developgoodhabits.com/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset/
Anderson, J. The Mindset Continuum. (2017). Retrived from https://mindfulbydesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/mindset_continuum.pdf

Marquess, A. 10 Phrases to Help You Develop a Growth Mindset in Parenting (n.d.). Retrieved from
https://bouncebackparenting.com/phrases-help-develop-growth-mindset-parenting/

Greater good Science Center. Parenting is really hard. Having growth mindset helps. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.mindsetworks.com/parents/growth-mindset-parenting