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  • LDAU

Mindset the Psychology of Success for ALL Students Including those with Learning Disabilities

Patricia Matthews Ed.D.

In 2006, Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of Psychology at Stanford University, published a book based on over 30 years of research into how people succeed called Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. Since that time her work has been refined for use in the classroom in practical and simple ways by her and many talented educators. This work has swept classrooms across the United States educational systems allowing implementation of her simple but powerful theory on the two mindsets she explores in her groundbreaking research. Dweck discovered that teachers can help students with learning needs thrive in the face of a challenge, grapple with a difficult problem and have overall better academic outcomes by using specific growth mindset strategies.

Two important resources for teachers include, The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by Month Handbook for Empowering Student to Achieve (2016) and In Other Words Phrases for Growth Mindset: A teachers Guide to Empowering Students through Effective Praise and Feedback (2018) are essential works that can help an educator wishing to support their students struggling with negative learning beliefs. In these works Annie Brock and Heather Hundley give practical steps to creating a Growth Mindset classroom which comes directly from their personal classroom experiences. They challenge teachers to develop 6 skills. First, normalize mistakes help students see that mistakes are simply learning opportunities. Second, teach constructive praise and feedback help students give growth-oriented praise and feedback to each other. Third, provide opportunities for peer review. Fourth, make sure to value process over perfection reward effort in the classroom. Fifth, make students teachers in the classroom when they have mastered a concept for example ask them to help teach it to a classmate. Use a call out technique that directly calls out the behavior of a student engaging in a growth-oriented peer interaction as a positive part of the classroom goal. Brock and Hundley point out that this approach is a way of creating positive interactions that shows value of a growth mindset throughout the classroom.

Dweck stated the following in her ground breaking work: “As parents, teachers, and coaches, we are entrusted with people’s lives. They are our responsibility and our legacy. We now know that the growth mindset has a key role to play in helping us fulfill our mission and in helping them fulfill their potential.” (p. 211)

Teachers of students with specific learning disabilities must value the power of thought and mindset psychology in their daily classroom instructional work. As teachers we have the potential with a positive mindset focus to help students harness the power of their personal speech to reframe their own mindset, engage in positive self-talk and practice growth mindset strategies that empowers successful learning.


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