How can Speech Language Pathologists use growth mindset?
The work of Carol Dweck and colleagues have taught us that some students rebound while others are devastated by setbacks. Dr. Dwek studied the behavior of thousands of children and generated the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” to describe beliefs about learning. Research in neuroscience shows us that the brain is more malleable than ever. New connections can be grown and existing ones can be strengthened. Let’s take some tenants of growth mindset and generate ideas on how you can incorporate them into your therapy sessions.
1. Intelligence can be developed.
*Researchers have found that it is possible to promote a growth mindset by teaching students about neuroscience evidence showing that the brain is malleable and gets stronger through effort, trying new strategies, and seeking help when necessary. Take the time to teach growth mindset especially if it is not being covered in other areas of the curriculum.
Here is a link to my favorite book for teaching children they are capable of strengthening their brains. While the vocabulary in the book can be daunting, don’t let that hold you back. This book is intended for children ages 5-8. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain!
You might also like my TPT product: Strengthen Your Amygdala! It is used to teach students that they can strengthen social skills through practice and making social connections.
*Focus on learning goals with your students. Communicate their overall learning goals at the start of your school year and have specific learning goals for each of your sessions. For example, “today, we will use the correct tongue position to make the R sound at the start of words.”
2. We can work through our challenges and setbacks.
*Encourage students to tackle tasks that give them the right amount of challenge.
*Periodically, (perhaps around IEP time) review with your students the progress they have made and talk about new sounds, strategies or skills they have now that they didn’t have before! Attribute these successes to making mistakes and working through challenges.
*Teach your speech students that the tongue is a muscle. It learns the correct positions of sounds by practicing the sound repeatedly until it learns the new pattern of making it. Retraining your tongue and mouth to make new sounds can certainly be challenging! This growth mindset product is written specifically for articulation students:
3. Effort is the path to mastery.
*Attribute successes to the amount of effort or practice. For example, “at the beginning of the school year, you were not using pronouns “he” and “she.” You practiced, kept trying and now you are using them correctly.”
*When a student is not successful with a task, don’t attribute it to low ability! Instead, encourage them to look at the process of learning the task and try the task a different way, with different supports or strategies, or with more effort.
*Reinforce a student’s effort! “You’ve worked on this for quite a while and you didn’t quit!
*Use effort rubrics. At the end of each session have students rate how much effort they put into the task.
4. We learn from criticism and mistakes.
*At the start of the year, establish that your therapy room is a learning zone where mistakes are expected. This speech room is a mistake-friendly zone!
*Role model making a mistake in your classroom. Acknowledge the mistake and move on stating “I made a mistake, I must be learning!”
* Give students a brain sticker or stamp (or gummy brains which are found in stores around Halloween) when they make a mistake and say “your brain is growing.”
*Don’t just praise mistakes but talk about why they are important. Here’s an example: “When we make an W for a L, we learn what not to do. Each time we go to make the L it will become easier to remember the mistake we made and try to make the sound a different way.” The focus should be on what students learn from their mistakes, not the mistake itself.
*Make feedback process oriented, stay away from performance labels such as “good/bad.” Instead give feedback about the process, such as “try looking at John’s face when you talk to him.”
*Beautiful OOPS! This is a wonderful picture book about mistakes!
You might be interested in my other growth mindset products specifically related to reading and language: