Growth Mindset for Math Teachers

I’ll admit that I’m still a bit discouraged by last week’s Global News story blaming inquiry-based math instruction for low test scores. While the article won’t dissuade me from teaching math by inquiry, I do worry about the message that it (and others like it) send to teachers who are working hard to develop innovative strategies that will ensure the success of all their students.

Encouraged and inspired by this image by @sylviaduckworth, I now offer a pep talk to teachers:

Instead of “A traditional approach to math is good enough,” try, “I owe it to myself to show my students and colleagues the best I can do.”

Instead of “I’m not good at this”, try “As I reflect on each lesson I teach, the next one improves.”

Instead of “I’m awesome at this,” try, “This success is a foundation for an even better lesson tomorrow.”

Instead of “I give up,” try, “I’ll try something different next time.”

Instead of “This is too hard,” try, “My effort is evidence of dedication to my profession and my students.”

Instead of “I just can’t do inquiry-based math,” try, “I am going to learn how to do inquiry-based math.”

Instead of “That strategy didn’t work,” try, “I am going to learn from that mistake.”

Instead of “I’ll never be as good as my colleague,” try, “I am going to work with my colleagues so that we all improve.”

Instead of “Plan A didn’t work,” try, “I am creative, reflective and a life-long learner, so I am going to keep refining my approach.”

Just today, a professor shared this quote from Theodore Roosevelt which I now pass along to you:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


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