Developing a Growth Mindset

Knox County leaders are shown working at a table to identify characteristics of a growth mindset.

Knox County leaders are shown working at a table to identify characteristics of a growth mindset.Do you have a growth mindset?  That may be a tough question to answer.

Knox County’s leadership team participated in an interactive discussion and analysis of the growth mindset today during their annual retreat.  The session was conducted by Chip Southworth.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. Those with a fixed mindset document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.  In a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can get smarter, they realize that their effort has an effect on their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.

“When I first read “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck, I learned about the concept of a Growth Mindset and it articulated my philosophy of education,” states Southworth.  “I began to associate teaching methods that develop a growth mindset in students.”

That is the aim for Knox County in the year ahead.  During the upcoming opening day session for staff, Southworth will share an abbreviated version of the workshop conducted at the district retreat.  “It is important for the entire district to recognize what a growth mindset is, and apply it in teaching and learning, no matter what role or title,” explained Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles.  “In order to grow as professionals, and in order to grow our students, we must embrace a growth mindset.”

“The aim of my professional learning opportunities is to go beyond setting goals,” explains Southworth.  “The aim is to help educators, and their students, to develop perseverance, self-reliance, and passion.”

Part of the discussion led principals and directors to identify characteristics of fixed and growth mindset as it relates to a person’s skill level.  (Photos available in the KCPS Photo Gallery)

Southworth’s presentation is based on that of Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University.