How To Introduce Growth Mindset To Your students – Part (2)

IMG_2162In this article, I will share with you my answer to the question “What would be an efficient way to introduce the concept of Growth Mindset to students?” last spring I  conducted a workshop on Growth Mindset to my students and here is my reflection on it.

In part (1) of this article that you can visit here, I have discussed some of the methods used to introduce Growth Mindset to the workshop attendees. It is highly recommended that you read part (1) before proceeding to this part of the article. Students and teachers participated in the workshop where they were introduced to Neuroplasticity using this video here. A role-play scene evoked many questions to their minds; These questions  focused on how they can react to a challenge they would face in their academic life. The audience was engaged in a discussion to try to find out solutions to the problem. Next, I  have introduced an infographic showing Fixed versus Growth mindset and asked the audience to rethink the solution based on the infographic.

Sharing success stories

A couple of students were invited to share the secrets behind their own success stories. The audience was all ears. In addition, some effects made the sharing so impressive, such as light shades, background music and walking among the audience. Brief ‘question and answer’ session followed to urge reflection on the success stories.

Scenario-based team activity

Some tables were pre-arranged for team work. Stationary, guidelines, charts and some infographics were placed on them. I assigned some students to moderate the workshop and help attendees to form teams each of which had both students and teachers. Next a task has been announced: each team had to come up with a scenario that reflects a challenge situation that we might face in our lives. Moderators prepared some scenarios to help the teams such as:

  • You have failed your Midterm exam in Math though you studied very well
  • You have Tried so hard to do better in basketball training but the coach still puts you on substitution deck
  • You are a mother who has kids but still need to make it in your college life

The scenario template was as follows:

Your story is about someone who: __________

Compare the behavior of this individual in the given scenario as follows:

Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset

Team Members: ____________

In the end each team posted the comparison on a display chart and pinned it to a big shared board. Teams were given 20 minutes to finish the work and then 10 minutes to tour around and look at other teams’ final charts. Some honest and fruitful discussions took place between the different teams, which was the most interesting part of the workshop.



The “I believe” board

Team members were asked to write their reflection on a white board. The reflection was phrased as “I believe I will  ___________ “




Share tips on how to develop a growth mindset

One student had prepared some tips on how to develop a growth mindset and presented them to the audience. All of the tips can be found in my presentation that I have uploaded here and is previewed at the end of this article.

What started with fun ends with fun

One of the greatest ideas my students have come up with was the brainteasers, which was the warm up and the closure of our session. An essential part of the session was about neuroplasticity and brainteasers were the students’ own way to introduce the concept. The message behind the brainteasers was “Learning will ignite your brain”; It was a joyful start.We had arranged other light brainteasers to wrap up the session and everyone left with joy.

Display the products of the workshop around


For attendees to celebrate their hard work in the workshop, different teams’ charts along with the “I believe I will” board were moved to a display area where others can look and reflect on. It was one way to spread the positive vibes to others.

Slides of my presentation

Here is the presentation slides:

Useful Resources to use

All rights reserved to Bashaer M. Al Kilani @bashaierk © 2016



How To Introduce Growth Mindset To Your Students – Part (1)


If you are a connected educator then you have definitely seen the term Growth Mindset floating around in social media channels that you use. It is probably what led you here to this post and maybe to similar posts. This was the case for me using twitter and participating through many educational chats that have discussed the topic. Trends in social media represent people “thinking out-loud” of the same topic. Trends will shed the light on others’ experiences and thoughts. However, only the tip of the iceberg is there in social media. If you do not deeply reflect and investigate beyond the 140 characters then you might end up with distorted, scattered ideas or even misconceptions. This is why I had my share of investigation, reading and practice on the topic. Besides presenting the topic from learners’ perspective in a conference, I have posted about it from teachers’ perspective here. I have also hosted one #edchatMENA chat on the topic that I have archived here and another one on misconceptions about Growth Mindset here. The persistent question I had in mind while doing all of this was “What would be an efficient way to introduce the idea to the learners?”

In one study, 7th grade students were taught about Neuroplasticity – how the brain changes when you learn new things. They were shown the evidence that intelligence can be developed with practice and learning new strategies. Students in the treatment group who got this message did significantly better after the intervention than students in the control group (Paunesku, Walton, Romero, Smith, Yeager, & Dweck, 2015).  In another study with over 1500 high school students, students were randomly assigned to participate in a 2-session online intervention that taught about Neuroplasticity. It helped underperforming students who showed a significant increase in their GPAs (Blackwell, Trzesniewski & Dweck,2007).

In this article, I will share with you my answer to the question “What would be an efficient way to introduce the idea to the learners?” I will present how I introduced Growth Mindset to my students in a workshop that was conducted in last February 2016. The part of the teams’ activity and resources for the workshop will be introduced in part 2 of this post.

Students are the ones who will answer the question

So, you want your students to learn about Growth Mindset then nothing is better than urging them to moderate and deliver the workshop to their peers. They will be more convincing to their colleagues. I had great ideas for the workshop and I asked some students to volunteer to co-present with me. We planned sessions to introduce the idea to them before they pass it on to the workshop attendees . They were very enthusiastic about the “I can” attitude underpinning the Growth Mindset concept. They then planned their own brainstorming sessions. Surprisingly, the great ideas that I had for the session were all placed on the shelf as they looked very modest compared to what they came up with.

Invite teachers to attend and participate

Students were happy to work with their teachers on the workshop activities and discussion. This made them feel supported. In addition, the other privilege of having teachers among the audience was that it made the learners recognize that we are all in a non-stop learning journey. The learners’ enthusiasm mixed with teachers experience and guidance led to a very engaging session that was intriguing to each attendee from a different perspective.

Let them have some fun

One of the greatest ideas my students have come up with was the brainteasers, which was the warm up and the closure of our session. An essential part of the session was about Neuroplasticity and brainteasers were the students’ own way to introduce the concept. The message behind the brainteasers was “Learning will ignite your brain”; It was a joyful start.

Show them evidence on Neuroplasticity

I have used this video to let the students learn about Neuroplasticity


This was great. The students came up with a script that shows one problem that is common to most of them in their academic life. They created a dialogue in which three characters were engaged. One character represented a student who was confused about which academic program to join (one program is apparently easy but the other is what the student dreamed about). For the other two students, one represented the growth mindset voice and the other the fixed mindset voice when providing advise to their friend. The problem was left with no solution in the end of the scene. The audience was asked to reflect and to help the student make her decision.

There is still more to come in part(2) of the article soon.

Copyright 2016 Bashaer M. Al Kilani @bashaierk


Paunesku, D., Walton, G., Romero, C., Smith, E., Yeager, D., & Dweck, C. (2015) Mind-Set Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement. Psychological Science OnlineFirst, published on April 10, 2015 as doi:10.1177/0956797615571017

Blackwell, L., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C. (2007). Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention. Child Development, Vol. 78, No. 1.

Empowering Teachers


“The education process has to be autonomous and cannot be predicted or regulated from outside. (Bognar, 2009).

Each day more teachers make the decision they put off for a long time. They decide to quit their teaching career and to leave all the struggle behind. If the educational systems do not do their expected role in empowering teachers the drop off rates will turn into a phenomena.
While everyone agrees on that teaching is a very stressful job many do believe that teacher’s empowerment can help teachers to keep going. “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies” is World Teachers’ Day slogan for 2015 introduced by UNESCO. Teachers are required to meet curriculum standards and to teach “for the test“. The academic year is overloaded with duties where planning and marking is mostly made after working hours. However, with such a very demanding job teachers find themselves with least involvement in decision making and realize their voice is reduced to be minimal. The empowerment research agrees the conditions under which teachers work are often set up in such a way as to deny teachers a sense of efficacy, success, and self-worth. There is often too much isolation and surviving on ones’ own. (Terry, 1998)
So how can teachers be empowered and how can this raise the retention rates?

Supportive and insightful leadership
It takes an insightful leadership to realize that teachers’ contribution to decision making enhances the learning process. It gives teachers a share in achieving the success they want to accomplish. Leaders can capitalize the teachers’ strengths that will pay off as a productive involvement towards achieving school vision. Empowered teachers participate in critical decisions that directly affect teaching and learning. Empowering work environments may enhance professionalism, facilitate teacher leadership, improve the quality of work life, and enable effective implementation of school reform (Dee, Henkin, Duemer, 2003)
Empowerment translates in to teacher leadership and exemplifies a paradigm shift with the decisions made by those working most closely with students rather than those at the top of the pyramid. (Terry, 1998). Balls, Eury, and King (2011) in their book “Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound” emphasize that decisions should be made by those who are mostly influenced by them and that conversation about data should be held by decision makers with other stakeholders.
Delegating leadership roles to teachers will give them a say and will instill more accountability. They will embrace the attitude of “Make it happen” as an exchange to the autonomy and trust they are given. Autonomous teachers are more potential to be creative and to initiate solutions to their problems. Preceding to leadership contribution by teachers comes their contribution to setting a clear vision. Clarity of vision will help teachers to follow a path that leads for the desired expectation.

Professional development
Professional development is essential to teachers’ empowerment. Teachers will professionally grow and will be able to reach the learners with improved approaches. Professional development urges teachers to reflect on their practices, sparks their creativity and help them to build learning communities. Just having the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with colleagues can help a teacher gain a sense of community and belonging. (Murray 2010).
Leaders have to provide resources and time for professional development. One of the main reasons to pursue professional development is to be empowered, to have the opportunity and the confidence to act upon your ideas as well as to influence the way you perform in your profession. (Murray 2010). Professional development and collaboration should be embedded in the school day.
Personalized professional development is vital to teachers’ empowerment. The “one size fits for all” is not accepted in classroom, and shouldn’t be accepted when it’s related to teachers’ learning and growth. Teachers need to have a say on “what” and “how” professional development is delivered to them. The benefit of enhancing one’s own learning skills is an ongoing theme in the literature on adult education. As Dorothy Mackaracher (2004) wrote: “Learning how to learn challenges individual learners to develop skills and knowledge for learning more effectively in various contexts and settings.” There is, therefore, a real need, right now for capacity building in the Education Profession (Wideman, 2011)

Are teachers paid fairly? While this could be an essential question to enhance teachers empowerment, this should be looked at as one factor of many that can raise teachers’ retention rates. Incrementing teacher’s salary upon different roles they play in school will encourage more positive contribution by teachers. But this will only apply if we are giving them enough empowerment to thrive and to play these roles. Otherwise looking for different careers where they can gain the same money for less struggle and stress will be an optimal alternative.

Empowering teachers as leaders was seen as a way to put teachers at the center of the reform movement, to keep good teachers in education, to entice new teachers into the profession, and to reverse a general trend toward treating them as employees who do specific tasks planned in detail by other people. By introducing these new paradigms, the teaching profession will become a truly rewarding experience. (Terry 1998)
Policy and decision makers should realize that teachers’ empowerment is now more significant than it ever was. Education is challenged with globalization and knowledge economy that enforces a transformation in the education paradigm. Without energized, motivated teachers education will keep reforming in a trial and error basis. Without having teachers empowered to be at the center of decision making and reform efforts, education systems will lack the capacity building needed for its progress. Teachers’ drop off will be added to the many other dilemmas education face. We need to create new career-advancement opportunities for teachers, give them greater decision-making authority and responsibility, and allow them to be successful in their work. (Hirsch, 2015)


Balls, D., Eury, A., King, J., (2011). Rethink, Rebuild, Rebound: A Framework for Shared Responsibility and Accountability in Education.
Bognar, B., (2009). Initiating Teachers’ Action Research: Empowering Teachers’ Voices
Dee, R., Henkin, A., Duemer, L., (2003). Structural Antecedents and Psychological Correlates of Teacher Empowerment, Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 41 Iss: 3, pp.257 – 277

Murray, A., (2010). Empowering Teachers through Professional Development.
Rebora, A., (2008). Empowering Teachers: A Researcher Seeks Teachers’ Input On How To Improve Their Working Environments. (Interview with Eric Hirsch). Accessed October 30th 2015.
Terr, P., (1998). Empowering Teachers as Leaders
Wideman, R., (2011). Empowering Teachers and Schools to Play Their
Key Role In Improving Education- A Keynote Address Delivered At The North Eastern Ontario Education Network 2011 Research Carousel: Evidence In The
Classroom – Affecting Student Achievement at the Grassroots Level

Copyrights Bashaer m. Al Kilani @bashaierk 2015