Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

Top Ten Tips for developing a Growth Mindset in your Classroom



  1. Be Critical. Students should expect and welcome criticism. They must also be given the opportunity to act on any criticism or critique. This will allow students to realise that through improving their work and responding to feedback, they can be better than they were. For this to happen, the culture of improvement needs to feel completely normal. As teachers, we also need to think about how and when we give feedback. We should not always tell students how to improve. What if we gave them an exemplar piece of excellent work and asked them what changes they would make? Or get them to write a success criteria based on this to help students see what was missing? Or maybe just come back to the same piece later in the term and look at what improvements they would make. We need to make our students far more aware that they can improve without us ‘butting in’ every five seconds.IMG_1108
  2. Share the pain! Encouraging discussion about what students in your class find difficult; what they are struggling with can be really helpful for students. It helps students realise that we can all be challenged, no matter our starting point. There may be ways in which students can find answers, but it’s also incredibly healthy to listen to the nature of struggle. We can all overcome challenges or set backs, and together, we can all keep going. As the teacher, we need to let students struggle. Don’t always offer the solution, this way students will realise they are capable of doing it for themselves, through perseverance, reflection and effort.jakub
  3. Question the effort. Questioning serves a pivotal role in nurturing a growth mindset. How could this be even better? What do you need to work hard at to improve on this? Is it time to adopt a different approach or do you need to just keep going? Are you putting in enough effort for you to make major improvements this time? Go and have a look at X’s work. What can you tell me about the approach she has taken with this work? Getting the right answers is part of the battle; the other is insisting that students respond to what they know about how to improve. The proof being in the pudding so to speak.IMG_1150
  4. Make it difficult. What about those students who are producing great work without struggle? Is this because they are working exceptionally hard? Putting in extraordinary effort or is it too easy? As designers of learning, we must ensure that everyone struggles. Without making mistakes, we don’t learn. Without a real sense of challenge, the idea that you can grow as a learner is a fallacy. There is always a sense of struggle for almost every learner. As teachers, we need to help make those challenges explicit for every learner. Students cannot hide away from the things they always find a challenge. Whether that be presenting to the class, handwriting, spelling or something more subject specific. With hard work, every student can improve. They need to know that. They need to be given the chance to find out!Year 10 Critique
  5. Make a big deal about effort. This starts with us posing the challenges, talking about the qualities required for excellence. “I know this is going to be exceptionally difficult”, “It’s going to take a lot of effort”. When those challenges are complete, we need to give space in our lessons to reflect and celebrate on the effort it has taken to get there. To celebrate the struggle, to ensure students realise that it was all worth it. They are now more intelligent and capable than they were at the start of this lesson, project or scheme of learning.erin 3
  6. Acknowledge the effort. Make a big deal of those who are putting in the effort. Those who are spending time on their homework. Talk about their work ethic in the class, and what effect it has on the quality of their work and understanding. Let those who are not putting in as much effort see what happens when you do. Keep persevering with those who aren’t. The more they are surrounded by a strong work ethic and a persistent teacher, they will crumble!jade
  7. Demonstrate that work ethic yourself. Be ready at the door, welcoming the students in for another challenging lesson! Have their work marked when needed. Talk to students about their improvements as they enter the door. Make sure you embody the work ethic you want to see in your students.IMG_0952
  8. Display a Growth Mindset. Make your classroom a place where they can thrive as a learner. Have work of exceptional standard for them to see on your walls. Have examples of great learners in your subject. What did they do to get where they are now? How passionate about their work did they have to be become great? What would the greatest minds say about your work? If Steven King were going to mark your horror story, what would he say about how to improve the suspense in this passage?  If Sir Dave Brailsford were to mark your long answer paper for GCSE PE, what marginal gains would he say you could do to improve? Who are your local heroes? Who are those amazing people who have kept going despite enormous challenge to make a name for themselves? The Catherine Granger’s of this world.IMG_1066
  9. High expectations for every single student. If you know about the Pygmalion effect, then you know about the exceptional power we have as teachers to affect students’ lives through our own expectations for them. Know every student can work hard, can embrace challenge, can develop their understanding and can continually improve.IMG_0324
  10. Provide elements of choice. Allow students opportunities for students to have periods of autonomy and choice. This will lead to greater persistence, productivity, well-being and ultimately better understanding through finding their own path, learning for themselves.


Imagine if every classroom, every teacher instilled this culture within your school. Every day, every hour, every minute. It would be transformational. Look to see how it affects the learning culture within your classroom and be prepared to share it with others. Teachers can be the very antithesis of a growth mindset. Having routines and expectations of ‘that bottom set’, which haven’t changed in the last 20 years. This is your biggest challenge. Embrace it!

Author: Pete Jones

I am primarily an Art teacher, but over the past 5 years have been co-developing an experienced-based learning programme in the school I work in called Pebble, (short for Project Based Learning). I read extensively on learning and education, and I intend to use this blog to record what is going on in my head as well as in the classroom. Hopefully I will be able to share resources and ideas with like-minded thinkers in the future. The Pebble course runs through the whole of Year 8 for 5 periods a week. I am desperate for our world wide education system to catch up with the way we live our lives. Transformation of what we learn in schools and how we learn in schools is desperately overdue. Pebble is a skills centered curriculum with the focus very much on what students need to be successful learners, giving them valuable, deep learning experiences to boot.


  1. Wonderful ideas.

  2. Is there a way to get a poster of the Growth Mindset Image above? Great post! Thank you!

  3. Is there a way to get a poster of the Growth Mindset Image above? Great post! Thank you!

    • I can email you a jpeg file of it if you like?

      • Great post . We are moving at embedding a growth mindset future at me school

        Love the Growth Mindset image
        Would you mind emailing me the jpeg file

        Many Thanks

      • Hello,
        Would it be possible to request a jpeg of your growth mindset posters? They are fantastic! I’ve been looking for a few to share with my fellow teachers at our elementary school.
        Thank you,

    • Hi Jennifer another easy way to make a poster of the images is to screen snap the image then print A4 or A3…. that’s what I did and they print quite clear.

  4. Hi Pete,

    If possible would you email me a copy too? A colleague and I are beginning to research and share ideas/practices on growth mindsets.

    Many thanks,
    Su Chapman

  5. Good Morning-
    Love the messages your students have created. Would you please send a file to share with our school. Thanks a million.

  6. Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the inspiration, kids are loving the ideas of ‘Where’s your HEAD at?’
    Would it be possible to send me something to share with the wider school community?
    Thank you,

  7. Thank for this great posting. Is it okay to put a link to it from our new blog http://ffgrowthmindset.primaryblogger.co.uk
    It would be much appreciated; we start a Mindset project at school in the New Year.

  8. Great post! I would love to use this with the teachers at my school to both summarize some of the work we’ve done recently with mindsets and to further our discussion around the topic. Is it okay with you if I copy and distribute this article during our next professional development day?


  9. Hi Pete, I love your mindset image at the top of this post. I’d love to get it made up into posters for use in our classrooms – is it possible to get a high resolution file emailed through/popped in a drop-box/google drive etc?
    Many thanks
    Nga mihi nui

  10. Hi Pete, my colleague forwarded this to me, fantastic! So inspiring. Could you please email me a file to share with my establishment and also the jpeg file of the poster at the start? Thanks so much.

  11. Great, thanks so much!

  12. Please forward the jpeg! A person with a growth mindset never gives up on his/dreams.

  13. Please share the jpeg with me as well. Well done and a great post!

  14. Thank you for reminding and inspiring me to continue to incorporate mindset strategies into everyday learning. Can you please email me poster if already made and/or file to share with building colleagues. Thanks again.

  15. Spot on! Absolutely! Creating and nurturing that mindset is critical. NOBODY rises to low expectations.

  16. Please email me the poster of growth mindset. Thank you

  17. Hi Pete,
    I am echoing the comments here – some great reminders of what students need and what teachers should strive to do. Is it possible to send me a copy as well ? I’d love to put some posters of them up in my classroom and the staffroom.
    Regards, Maria

  18. Great information, Pete! I would love a jpg of the Growth Mindset poster, too. Could our college use this graphic in our Student Success course?

  19. Thanks for this impressive post. Yes, grit is everything but one inspirational talk just doesn’t change things in my classroom. I like your idea of the whole school committed to excellence and reinforcing each other’s aims.
    I would also appreciate any file you send to reinforce this in the classroom.
    Many, many thanks.

  20. hello there
    Would it be possible for you to email me a file with your ideas for a growth mindset? I was lucky enough to be involved with a Shirley Clarke AfL research project and the growth mindset played an important role. I am at a new school and would like to introduce / refresh teacher’s understanding of the growth mindset – your resources would be perfect. Many thanks

  21. Hi,

    Love these ideas, we’re hoping to roll this out whole school next academic year. I was wondering if you’d be interested in speaking to our staff about your experiences for an hour or so?

    Let me know your thoughts

    • Hi Caroline. I do work in Jersey, so it wouldn’t be easy for me to pop up for the day! If you can work out a way for me to get there, would be happy to. So sorry for the late reply. Could t get into my blog for months! Hope this reply gets to you

    • Hi there. Would love to come and speak. Unfortunately I do live in Jersey, which would make it a bit of a challenge. If you can find a way to get me there, would be happy to talk. So sorry for late reply. My blog has been locked for ages for some reason.

  22. Please could you e-mail me the file with the poster at the page, the school I work at is heavily promoting growth mindset and I would like to display the poster.
    Thank you

  23. I’ve really enjoyed reading your post and the ideas within it. I would really appreciate it if you could send me a copy of the first picture (and the next to last, if possible) so I can use them in my school too.

  24. Hi Peter, I am at the stage of introducing Growth Mindset at my school. I would greatly appreciate any resources you can send. Would also love to receive the posters included in your blog.
    Keep up the great work.

  25. Hi Peter. Just wanted to check in to see if I could get permission to use the Growth Mindset graphic found at the top of this page. Our school is just starting off on the Growth Mindset with the power of “Yet” this year and putting together a presentation for our school. This graphic you have sums it up PERFECTLY! Thanks for your consideration and great article.

  26. Hi, I am a new HT and love your stuff. Any chance of sending me some of the images etc to share with staff.
    Thank you

  27. Hi Pete…so glad I found your blog! Going to do a presentation to teachers of teachers on creating a growth mindset classroom. Would like to share your poster with your permission. If you had a high resolution file you would be willing to share it would be most appreciated. Thank you so much for your consideration and your inspiration.
    -Janet M.

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