Break the habit of telling kids they’re smart, keep a running list of comments that promote a growth mindset on hand to praise things your students can control.

  • Carol Dweck explains, "process praise keeps students focused, not on something called ability that they may or may not have and that magically creates success or failure, but on processes they can all engage in to learn"
  • The following are examples from SciGirls to use when students are successful:
    • I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that ___ problem until you finally got it.
    • That ____ was so long and involved, but you stuck to it and got it done. You kept up your concentration, and kept working. That's great!
    • I like that you took on that challenging project. It will take a lot of work—doing the research, designing the machine, buying the parts, and building it. You're going to learn a lot of great things.
    • You really studied for your _____ test, and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!
    • I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that problem until you finally got it.
    • You thought of a lot of different ways to do it and found the one that worked!
    • I know school used to be easy for you and you used to feel like the smart kid all the time. But the truth is that you weren’t using your brain to the fullest. I’m really excited about how you’re stretching yourself now and working to learn hard things.
    • That ____ was so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it.
    • Tell me about what you’ve created.
    • You put so much thought into this. It really makes me understand ___ in a new way.
    • The passion you put into that ____________gives me a real feeling of joy. How do you feel when you ______it?
    • You have really learned a lot about ___ . Look how much better you are getting.
    • That’s a productive approach.
    • You have really improved at ___.
    • I noticed you are thinking deeply; that’s the way to succeed.
  • Below are examples from SciGirls to use when a student is struggling.
    • I liked the effort you put in. Let's work together some more and figure out what you don't understand.
    • We all have different learning curves. It may take more time for you to catch on to this and be comfortable with this material, but if you keep at it like this you will.
    • Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you. (This may be especially important for children with learning disabilities. Often for them it is not sheer effort that works, but finding the right strategy.)
    • That was your personal best and I know you will keep improving.
    • I can see how hard you worked.
    • I know you are disappointed in ___ and that you worked really hard to be successful. Let’s look at some more effective methods to solve the problem.
    • This happens all the time in real labs too. Let’s figure out what went wrong.

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