This “growth mindset” contrasts with a “fixed mindset,” one in which students believe that qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed traits that cannot be changed and alone guarantee (or hinder) success. We build students’ growth mindset by engaging them in challenging material as a way to build skills and knowledge; supporting them in persisting through obstacles and learning from failure; and praising their effort rather than their results. We model collaboration – as well as giving and receiving critical feedback – as an important method for building intelligence and abilities. We celebrate students’ hard work and desire to learn in all aspects of garden education and provide the space for students to recognize a growth mindset in each other.
Specific practices include:
- Providing opportunities for students to see and reflect on their own growth. For example, the immersion weeks give students an entire week to tackle a project, try different approaches, and see the results of their effort. Help students notice traits like persistence and hard work in each other by providing time for reflection and appreciation. If you see students over multiple years, invite them to think back to their first time in the garden. What have they learned? Have they improved their skills? We often ask older students to teach each other, based on the experiences they have had in the garden so far. In addition to building student leadership, this allows students to recognize their growth!
- Coordinating with the school or teacher’s system of recognizing effort and work habits. At King Middle School, we call this system “Habits of Work.” In the garden, we look out for these habits and reinforce them through specific feedback.
- Giving specific and positive feedback related to what students can control (effort, strategies, attitude). Try “I really love the effort I’m seeing here.” instead of “Wow! You did a great job! This must be so easy for you!” or “It’s OK. Not everyone is a natural at this. Let’s move on to something you’re better at.” Share stories of developing your own skills through persistence, and don’t be afraid to mention your mistakes as well!