Last Friday, I participated in a Leadership Learning Team meeting with other educators in our school board.  It was a great opportunity to think about the way we teach, and we were challenged to share this learning with others.  This might have meant other teachers at my school, but I wanted to take it a step further.  Besides talking about these ideas with my children at home over the weekend, my students had the opportunity to look through the videos and respond to some questions today in class.


We discussed the growth mindset as well as the idea that #YouCanLearnAnything.  For some reason, it wasn’t easy for me to talk about this with my students, because I felt that it was getting a bit too real.  A lump was forming in my throat because these ideas are at the heart and soul of any great classroom.  Teachers always hope that students will do their best, will push their limits, and move on to lead successful lives.  I mean, who hasn’t been inspired by movies like Freedom Writers or To Sir, With Love…?


In art class, I often hear students say that they have no talent, or that they’re not artistic. Even before attending their first class, they have convinced themselves that they won’t do well.


What better way to respond to fear than to offer reassurance and encouragement?  By simply understanding the notion that we can train ourselves and improve our skills, we can begin to make the decision to move forward.  When we share this knowledge with students, we empower them.

Students may wonder if these ideas only apply to specific people;  those who struggle, those who succeed, or maybe even those who have talent…

A growth mindset is the ability to keep learning thinks despite failure. Success depends on the effort of a student, not the intelligence.

As I student I see myself struggling with this concept because when I am praised for my natural intellectual ability I have a hard time pushing myself when times get tough. However, I believe I do have a growth mindset because my work effort and ambition is reflected through my school work. This video scientifically proved that my effort does pay off, and I should continue my hard work in order to achieve my goals, and continue to grow.    (Olivia)


Hopefully more students will begin to see the benefits of hard work.  If we talk about growth mindset in classes, our students will be given the opportunity to work on their skills.  Bit by bit, as they push themselves further, they may discover that limits were only simple fears that fade away when we face them.  Pretty soon, those limits will continue to dissolve as students walk through the ghosts of former concerns.








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8 Responses to #YouCanLearnAnything

  1. David Tamblyn says:

    Thank you Colleen for sharing this. What a great exercise! I wish I had been there to have heard the discussion. I am particularly interested in hearing from those students who typically don’t have a growth mindset – the ones who say they are not artistic before they have even taken their first class. After watching the videos and hearing the comments from their classmates has their fixed mindset been undermined? In terms of interventions for students with a fixed mindset you say you offer reassurance and encouragement. Do these strategies work? Are their other intervention strategies?

    • colleenkr says:

      Dave, thanks for bringing that up. It concerns me too, and I shared that with my students yesterday. I realized that introducing the idea of the growth mindset might have been a bit out of the ordinary for my students, but so necessary for them to begin thinking about. Especially important for those who find school challenging, and those who have a fixed mindset.
      To all of my students, I admitted this: “You may not believe this, but if you fail, I have also failed. I believe that if we work hard enough together, we can find a way to help you succeed.” I hesitated to use the word ‘fail’, but that’s the language that students understand, and they need to know that I care and notice when they struggle. Fortunately we are finding ways, through choice-based curriculum, to personalize their experiences in class, offering them more ways to achieve success. For some, simple motivation also helps… in the words of one student yesterday: “I only listened to the Rocky part. It inspires me and motivates me to do better, and be better in everything I do”.

    • colleenkr says:

      I have a feeling that I’m to talk to my students a bit more about this today, with a focus on fixed mindset. Your comments really have me thinking, and I’m wondering what we can do about it. Stay tuned — hopefully we will develop some ideas today in class.

    • colleenkr says:

      My classes read your comment today, and they were more than willing to consider your questions. Here are their responses: https://northernartteacher.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/can-a-fixed-mindset-be-changed/

  2. Pingback: Can A Fixed Mindset Be Changed? | Northern Art Teacher

  3. Heidi says:

    I love the fact that you are doing this with your students. It was so awesome to hear what they had to say and how in touch they are with their learning needs! Thanks for making your thinking and your students visible !

  4. Pingback: Student Voice: Learning Conditions Needed to Support a Growth Mindset | Northern Art Teacher

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