Step 2 B: Growth v. Fixed Mindset


After watching the video, use the comment section below to reflect on what it means to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset and how you demonstrate characteristics associated with either or both. Then, read through a sampling of responses from your colleagues.



1,311 thoughts on “Step 2 B: Growth v. Fixed Mindset

  1. San Fernando High - Mettlen says:

    Growth mindset is the belief that you can work hard and improve your knowledge and intelligence, kind of like going to the gym and lifting weights, the more you go the more you grow, same thing with intelligence. The more you work out your brain the more it will grow. People with this mindset tend to do better in school because they view learning as something that will make them more intelligent.
    Fixed mindset if the belief that you are born with a certain amount of knowledge and intelligence and no matter what you do, you will always be the same. People with this mindset tend to believe that no matter what they do they will always not be as smart as the other people, or are smarter because they just are, not because they worked any harder.


  2. Andrea Smith says:

    I am a firm believer in being positive. A Growth Mindset can make an impact on how our students learn within the constraints of a classroom environment. A Growth Mindset allows for freedom and questioning. It allows do overs and supports a student’s learning process through reminders that it’s alright. You can do it again and we can discover together the right answer. A student’s self-esteem is caught up in whether or not they can accomplish what they set out to accomplish. It is the job of the teacher to allow for mistakes, support when necessary and always be positive.


  3. Loyda Ramos says:

    Last year I implemented biweekly lessons on what it is to have a growth mindset vs. fixed mindset. I teach and Autism Core program. Most of my students are naturally rigid when it comes to their learning. In other words, it is more challenging for my students to be flexible. For this reason, I downloaded a few resources on having a growth mindset so that I could slowly start to change the thinking of my students. By implementing these lessons into my curriculum, I realized that my there were so many opportunities during the instructional day to implement growth mindset thinking. What I found is that my students started to echo and repeat some phrases I taught them. For example, my students started saying, ” I can try again”, “Oh no I made a mistake! I can try again”, “I am smart I can do this!” When I heard my students saying this, I became amazed and the positivitness that comes from a Growth Mindset curriculum.

    I also found that the students in my classroom who have a fixed mindset were a little more negative in their thinking. They were more harsh on themselves and would say, “i can’t! I’m dumb”. The student in my classroom with this mindset were more rigid and closed to trying something again. I found it challenging to change their thinking. With one student in particular, I was not able to change her thinking completely but I noticed that her tantrums diminished in intensity greatly. Little by little she began to say, “oh I can try again”. I am a firm believer in the positive impact that teaching our students a Growth Mindset can bring into the classroom.


  4. S Duran says:

    Growth-mind set is sort of working out because it feels good, not because you need to do it. A fixed-mind is sort of like the person who tries so many diets, but never loses the weight and gives up! As teachers, we need to realize that students who are stressing out over grades, and who worry about how their their “low” or “high” GPA may stigmatize them. If there is growth mindset, our students will learn to take any classroom experience as a challenge that brings them closer to a certain goal.


  5. People with a growth mindset have faith in themselves and think that If they try hard they can do it. People with a fixed mindset think that they were born a certain way and that is all. No matter how hard they try there is no way to improve their mind.



    I will give examples of two students who were amazing but had very different growth mindsets. My first student, Stella, had a growth mindset. It did not matter what came her way – she tried and challenged herself to do things out of her comfort zone. She was playing violin in my class and around the middle of the first semester, she became injured and was required to take two months off from playing her instrument. Instead of treating this as a defeat, Stella took it upon herself to take on much more of a leadership role in the class and was learning how to transcribe music as well as help students who were not as advanced as her. To me, she exemplifies what it means to have a growth mindset because obstacles can hinder some people. However, if you have a growth mindset, you will find ways to continue growing.

    My other student Emily had a fixed mindset. It seems no matter how much she played in class with the orchestra, and no matter how many days she spent in sectionals, she felt that she was not good enough to play in the final concerts and almost gave up playing cello! In talking to her one on one, she kept telling me that she was not confident in her playing skills and she felt that she was never going to get better. Along with this, she was slowly starting to leave her instrument at school and would claim she forgot it because she was busy. People with a fixed mindset do not think that they can learn new things. They also think that no level of trying will help them make strides in their learning. They tend to be less vocal about their issues and will hide or choose not to participate in class.


  7. Irineo Yanez says:

    Growth mindset means believing that one has the ability to learn. Students with this mindset tend to do better in school because they learn from their mistakes, ask questions, and seize opportunities for growth. They see their learning as a muscle that can be worked out and grow.

    On the other hand, people with a fixed mind set see intelligence as fixed. You were pretty much born the way you were and that’s what you got. Students in this boat usually don’t ask questions are afraid of new experiences and don’t fair as well as their growth mindset counterparts.


  8. M. Seestedt says:

    People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. They are not afraid to fail and enjoy challenging activities. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset believe that you are born with intelligence, like hair and eye color. Moreover, those with a fixed mindset are afraid to fail and of looking not so smart.

    My previous response I gave a personal example of how throughout my K-12 career I had a fixed mindset. I did not try to challenge myself because I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know anything. I wouldn’t challenge myself. I was only concerned with passing and did minimal work to pass.


  9. Rasheda Young says:

    Students who have a growth mindset are more willing to fail because they don’t link their intelligence to their identity; however students who has a fixed mindset are less likely to take risks because their identity is closely tied to their identity. They tend to believe that intelligence means “I know it all.”


  10. laurenvaron says:

    In my experience, teaching students how to approach learning with a growth mindset has changed how many of my students feel overall about school and about unfavorable subjects. By third grade, many students enter my class with a fixed mindset. They say things like, “I’m bad at math” or “I can’t do this” without even trying. Taking time at the beginning of the year and throughout the school year to teach students about growth mindset and how to shift what they say to themselves, has had a huge impact in my classroom.


  11. Susan Enman says:

    I think the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, are most clearly illustrated in how a student deals with failure and challenge. Students with a growth mindset, see these instances as an opportunity rather than a road block to further accomplishment. The growth mindset says that learning takes work and are therefore prepared to do the work it takes, The fixed mindset sees no point in working because they feel like intelligence is something you have or do not have, so what is the point in working.

    A student with a growth mindset may get a question wrong on a test and go to after school tutoring, a student with a fixed mindset may get a question wrong and not seek any additional help because they believe that no matter how much help they get, they will never do better.

    One point that is noteworthy is the idea that a fixed mindset can exist in both the A student or the F students.


  12. Rick G says:

    Alrhough I found that the video presents a rather oversimplified view of the “fixed- growth mindset issue, it is clear that the growth approach is preferable. It is preferable because it includes openness and continued effort to learn whatever skill is being taught or presented.


  13. Noe Solares says:

    In the video, the biggest thing you notice about students with a growth mindset is their attitude towards solving problems or working on their daily tasks. That is why the tasks should be challenging to promote the growth mindset, but they should not be frustrating because it might promote a fixed mindset. That is why teachers usually tell their students to work on the easy problems first to avoid the frustration that comes with the more difficult problems.


  14. Angelique McNiff says:

    A growth mindset means believing that you can improve through goals and effort – you are not a static character but a dynamic individual who can learn more. Overall, teachers probably believe in the basic principle that students can learn, so it would seem logical that they teach to help them learn; however, this is not always the case with teachers and messages like this video are good reminders to practice this idea in our classroom by teaching with that attitude and by helping them learn rather than punishing them for not doing so.


  15. Jenny Burman says:

    A growth mindset is centered on the journey of learning not the attainment of facts. I find myself in both mindsets. Sometimes I want to appear smart and sometimes I care only about how interesting the path is. When someone in my circle asks me a question about my teaching discipline, for example, “Why is lake Tahoe so blue?” I want to be able to answer them and show them that, “ I know my stuff.” I also enjoy the process of experimentation that gets me to develop my own understanding of phenomena.



    Growth mindset is about trying hard, persevering, and learning. People with a fixed mindset are more likely to seek out tasks that make them look smart, require less effort, and they tend to give up more readily when faced with setbacks. I have students who have growth and fixed mindsets and their mindset has a huge impact on the classroom. My student with a fixed mindset would have meltdowns if he thought an assignment would take work, he didn’t care if he learned new material, and he gave up very quickly. We worked hard all year trying to shift his mindset but it was challenging because his family instilled a fixed mindset attitude by mocking cousins who needed more effort to complete tasks, and my student was worried that meant he looked dumb. Mindset needs to be worked on in and outside the home.


  17. Allison Conant says:

    Growth mindset is about being willing to accept “failure” as part of the process and to be willing to give yourself enough time to learn a new task — and to engage in that task in a way that does not incur judgment. As a teacher I know that I can foster that culture in my classrooms. It’s interesting to consider how to encourage students to look at natural talent — is that indeed innate or at some point did a student just get better instruction? Was there an attitude shift at one point?


  18. Maria E. Guzman says:

    The use of “eye color” and “muscle” really helped me in defining what fixed and growth mindset is all about. I now know that if you have a fixed mindset, you think that you can’t increase your intelligence, because you were born that way, much like being born with brown eyes. Whereas if you are of a growth mindset, you consider your intelligence as having room for improvement, much like building muscles in your body. Great way to illustrate the two mindsets!


  19. Sophia Kang says:

    To have a growth mindset means to be okay with setbacks and failures. Those with a growth mindset see learning as a process rather than a reflection of their inadequacies. To rephrase the video, the characteristics of a growth mindset mean responding setback with optimism and using effort to learn while a fixed mindset comes from a place of shame and desire to achieve perfection. I can see why students with a growth mindset usually perform better because they are learning organically rather than on a set formula.


  20. Brenda Casanova says:

    Having a growth mindset means that you are able to take criticism in a positive way because you want to grow as a person. Folks with a growth mindset are open minded, take risks, and are okay with making mistakes. Also, they are determined and are willing to take on a challenge in order to keep growing. On the other hand, folks with a fixed mindset have difficulty with taking criticism. People with a fixed mindset will have difficulty completing tasks because they are afraid of failure and tend to give up. They are less likely to take risks and be okay with making mistakes. However, I think it’s important to note that we are more complex than this binary and we can embody both mindsets at different times. It’s important to let our students know this so that they don’t feel discouraged if they currently identify with a fixed mindset. One can always work their way up to having a growth mindset more habitually over time.


  21. Jill Hagan says:

    A fixed mindset is one from a person who thinks that intelligence is given and one’s brain cannot be grown, like a muscle. Learning is static, there is little effort, one must look smart, and there’s sort of a fatalistic attitude if someone does not “get it” right away.

    A growth mindset is someone who is curious, who tries to learn, does not give up, and believes that the brain is a muscle that can be “grown.” We saw a growth mindset with Keshawn when he was at Berkeley. He was convinced that he could learn, and he continued to use affirmations about his growth mindset.

    I think that I have developed a fixed mindset about being artistic and my singing. I must have been told as a child that I was not creative, and I chose to believe that person. I have told my students that if there were an art contest between a kindergartner and me, that the kindergartner would win. Still, I do try to draw on the whiteboard in front of my students, and they have a good laugh. I also do not believe I can sing. I have tried singing lessons, but my inner child from my glee teacher seems to win out and I really do not sing well. In terms of other aspects, I have a growth mindset and do believe that I am intelligent and can learn.


  22. AmberK says:

    Fixed mindset versus growth mindset is definitely more of an idea or an attitude about how you approach something. In relation to intelligence, people with a fixed mindset or attitude believe that you are born with a certain amount of intelligence and that is how far your intelligence grows, but a person who sees things with a growth mindset recognizes the importance of making mistakes, learning from your mistakes, and grow your intelligence by attempting challenges. A person having a fixed or growth mindset could be a result of their culture and/or upbringing. The beautiful thing is that students are sponges and can easily absorb a new mindset if promoted properly.


  23. Stefnie Evans says:

    Someone with a growth mindset understand the power of effort to change what you know and can do, increasing intelligence. The obstacle is the effort, and that many people, students and adults, don’t want to expose where they have a lack of understanding. Someone with a growth mindset understands that failing is a key part of growing, which is why they will grow their intelligence.

    Someone with a fixed mindset is unwilling to try. This can be because of failures of the past, but the result is the same, their mindset/belief about being able to increase their intelligence is non-existent.

    I have experienced both mindsets. There are hobbies I have wanted to take up, and I counted the cost of growing in the skill required to “enjoy” the hobby and determined that I may never get there, or the effort wasn’t going to guarantee growth. Yet other things that I really wanted, I put in the effort believing that the effort would pay off, and my intelligence and skill would grow.


  24. Michael Dang says:

    Growth mindset is a belief that intelligence can be grown while fixed mindset is a belief that intelligence is static. Fixed mindset students are very focused on image preservation by showing that they are smart or hiding that they are not. Growth mindset are process driven and understand that effort yields results. My growth mindset is reflected in how I respond to setbacks and challenges in my life by bouncing back from them and using them as learning opportunities to overcome them the next time around. My fixed mindset is best reflected by my self description as “not really artistic” when I have not taken the time to enroll in any art classes yet.


  25. ISELA DE LA TORRE says:

    A growth mindset means you believe that you have the ability to affect positive change in your learning and thinking, if you invest the work and energy required. A fixed mindset is the belief that one’s ability to learn and develop thinking is limited to what they already possess. In other words, they do not perceive themselves as being able to affect a positive change. A student with a fixed mindset will not enjoy a challenge and will probably succumb to defeat quickly when tackling new concepts and any new learning that does not come easy. However, a student with a growth mindset will tend to embrace the challenge because they believe they will ultimately be successful in that area because they’re putting in the energy and work to do so.


  26. Sonya Kinsey says:

    Having a “growth mindset” is having a positive desire/attitude to develop and learn as much as one can. Having a “growth mindset” keeps one having perseverance and contributes to success. I have a few fourth grade students who have the “growth mindset”. During math, they eagerly want to always challenge themselves, leafing to perseverance and then success.


  27. Jennifer Bower says:

    Learning for the sake of learning…love it! Learning to become a better, more well-rounded person…awesome! Learning something new just to challenge yourself…fantastic! We all need a bit more of this philosophy in our classrooms. I used to tell my AP students that the experience of a college level course was more important than the AP Exam itself. (My administration pushed the oppostie in our district, our state ranks high schools by the number of AP classes offered and the number of passing scores attained.)

    If only competitive universities allowed fgrowth mindset in their application process. Other than the personal statement in which students could write about their challenges, write about their “growth mindset”, there is no room for anything but good grades, SAT scores, volunteer hours, etc. No wonder our more academically advanced students are so stressed out.


  28. ericdavolt says:

    I’m not totally convinced that learning and intelligence are the same things. Learning is acquiring new skills and/or knowledge. Intelligence is applying the skill or knowledge you’ve learned. They are related terms though. I think that fixed mindset vs growth mindset has more to do with attitude. Am I willing to work hard and enjoy the process or do I do something because that’s what I have to do?


  29. C Bakewell says:

    To me, having a fixed or a growth mindset are both about attitude, not intelligence. I can open my mind to learning new things and be successful in that, but am I smarter? Or just more capable?
    I agree that we should promote growth mindset thinking with our students because it will be beneficial for them to adopt a positive attitude and not shut down to learning when it gets challenging. However, even with the most effort and desire, the average person will probably not be able to grasp certain concepts on the level that true genius would.


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