Are We Teaching Our Students That They Can Grow?

Educators are learning that in addition to knowing content, students must also have a healthy approach to learning. That is, students must see themselves as learners who can grow.

We all know students who become frustrated when the task seems difficult. Some students feel defeated the moment they walk in the door. Carol Dweck (in her book, Mindset) has helped us all realize that an important factor affecting the learning outcomes of our students is not merely IQ, but also how students see themselves as learners. Do our students see themselves as learners who will grow or as students with predetermined strengths and weaknesses for life?

It is worth taking time to teach our students a bit about how our brains work, stressing the value (and payoff!) of hard work and effort. Often our students jump right to the I can’t do this thought, so giving them a category for understanding where that thought may be coming from and what to think instead may help them move forward. 

I have created a resource for teachers, support staff, and parents to use in order to teach children they can learn and grow even when it seems hard.  It starts with a narrative with simple illustrations (for an individual or whole class) followed by reflection sheets and  3 classroom posters containing helpful growth-centered scripts.

Based on your students’ level of understanding, you, as the educator or parent, may need to take a deeper dive into some of the concepts presented (e.g., What is patience? What does effort look like? What does hard work look like?). I have avoided using words such as “task persistence” or “task initiation,” but you can describe the learning process in terms of these skills if your students are ready.

If you haven’t already, make this year a year for helping your children or students see themselves as learners who grow with hard work and practice!

(Click here or on any image to fully preview or purchase the product.)




“You just need to ask for help…”

How many times have we said this to kids?  Students are feeling stuck, falling behind, and discouraged, and we say, “Oh Johnny – you didn’t ask for help… you just need to ask for help and I would be happy to help you!” Obviously, we mean well.  The problem is, as is often the case, we’re assuming far too much.  We’re assuming the student has the skills to identify what he/she doesn’t know and we’re assuming that the student has the skills to actually ask for help (a multiple skill process in itself).   This is often a skill deficit and, like anything else, children need to be taught.  Even if the student has an emotional barrier to asking for help, he/she still needs to overcome that barrier with a new skill.

There could be any number of reasons a student is not asking for help:


  • He doesn’t want to look stupid.
  • She finds adults intimidating.
  • He finds the assignment overwhelming.
  • Her mind is on a home stressor.
  • He doesn’t know what to ask.
  • She doesn’t know how to ask.

All students benefit from being taught self-advocacy skills.  Taking 5-10 minutes to teach your class how to ask for help will go a long way to help all students feel more comfortable and empowered to advocate for their own needs.  Some students need additional teaching and individual attention to learn this skill.  Asking for help is a skill that all students need not only throughout their education but throughout all of life.


Social narratives such as those shown above and left walk students through the process of asking for help from start to finish. These can also be used for classroom presentations shown on a smartboard or projector.  Click on the images for more information.