Teaching Growth Mindset in the Secondary Classroom

We’re all familiar with the importance of growth mindset, but often times we see growth mindset being taught at the lower levels as opposed to middle and high school classrooms.  We, as teachers, have the opportunity to change that!  We can be the leaders our students need in order to inspire them to be the very best the can be.  With our help, our students can unlock their potential, develop a growth mindset, and experience success not only in the classroom, but in the real world, too.

Where do we begin? How can we possibly teach the importance of growth mindset while simultaneously meeting all of the standards and preparing our students for the dreaded standardized tests?  My solution to this is beginning the school year with a growth mindset portfolio and creating an atmosphere that encourages growth mindset for the remainder of the year, so that students don’t forget its importance shortly after the unit.  Below, you will find 5 specific tips that will help you teach growth mindset at the secondary level.

Teach your students about the theories, research, and science behind a growth mindset.
At the secondary level, it’s important for our students to understand the reasoning behind why we are learning about mindset in the first place.  If you can convince your students that the knowledge they are about to learn is worthy of their time, they will be more apt to focus and take the lessons seriously.  Providing students with the science behind growth mindset is a great starting point, but I think even more important is providing students with various examples of how growth mindset applies to their lives.  Start with the connection between the brain and mindset, and then give specific scenarios to encourage students to continue learning.

Teach YOURSELF about growth mindset.
As teachers, it’s incredibly important that we fully understand the studies that support growth mindset.  That means doing a little research of our own.  Before I started creating materials for mindset, I studied four books so that I could accurately represent mindset to my students.  It’s perfectly okay if you aren’t an expert (yet)! Below is a picture of some of the books I studied.  Specifically, Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck.  The book is extremely informative, but it’s still easy to understand for someone who intends to use it in their classroom or with their teammates.


Assign informational text pieces about growth mindset to meet standards.
It’s constantly in the back of our minds.  How are we going to align this to the standards?  Simple! Assign informational text articles for text annotation.  There are hundreds of scholarly articles related to growth mindset.  Not only will your students strengthen their research and annotation skills, but they will also develop a deeper understanding of the research behind mindset. Whether you’re using scholarly or magazine articles, your students will be engaged and meeting standards simultaneously.

Use decorative interactive bulletin boards to create a mindset atmosphere.
I’m sure you’ve experienced a unit in school that you are excited about, but shortly after, you forget about it because it’s no longer the topic of conversation and you know you won’t be tested again.  Let’s not make this the case with growth mindset.  It’s imperative that your students are constantly reminded of the importance of having a growth mindset.  I’ve created two growth mindset bulletin boards to help you do just that! The first is called “Mindset Moments” and it is designed to give students the opportunity to brag about an experience they’ve had in which they’ve overcome an obstacle and experienced success through effort and perseverance!

The second bulletin board is an interactive board that encourages students to motivate one another throughout the year.  There are 6 pockets for: motivation, confidence, attitude, failure, effort, and perseverance with 6 quotes in each.  In addition, there are blank quote templates.  When a student takes a quote from the pocket, he or she must write their OWN quote to replace it.  By the end of the year, the pockets will consist of inspiring quotes from student to student.  This is also a great way to create a positive classroom dynamic amongst students.

You can find these bulletin boards in my Teachers pay Teachers store! Click this link to find “Mindset Moments“.  Click this link to find the interactive Growth Mindset Bulletin Board.

Use a growth mindset portfolio to inform, inspire, and educate your students.
You’re a competent, skilled, and intelligent educator.  You work endless hours to find and create the best materials for your students… but what about quality mindset materials for middle and high school students?  They’re hard to find, which is exactly why I created this 3 week unit, Growth Mindset Portfolio for teens.  It’s kind of my baby (lol).  I spent about one full month straight researching and designing the in depth pages and interactive activities throughout the portfolio.  The unit is broken into six sections: Introduction to the brain and mindset (fixed vs growth), Failure, effort, & success, The keys to motivation, Developing identity, Critical thinking & leadership, and a reflection capstone project.  For a more detailed description and preview of what’s inside the portfolio, click here!

Oh! Did I mention that each of the cover pages is an adult coloring page?! They also include fun facts about color therapy to inform students of its benefits!

The lessons and activities are not only informative, but they are also hands-on and engaging!  Students will end the unit feeling motivated and inspired to grow their minds and experience a success they didn’t know what possible before! Click here or on any of the images for a more detailed look inside the Growth Mindset Portfolio!

Best of luck teaching growth mindset to your students.  It’s something all middle and high school teens should be familiar with!



  • This looks awesome! I'm a music teacher, and often we get stuck in the rut of "hurry up and get to the content," thinking that things like growth mindset and building community aren't needed in our classrooms. But so many of my students (especially those who are taking music to satisfy their Arts credit), think that they just aren't musical and that musical talent is something you can only be born with rather than something that takes a tremendous amount of work and persistence. I'll definitely be using these themes at the beginning of next year.

    • I agree, it is right. leaning and working hard is more important than performance. any expert was once a beginner. I will use the mindset in my math class. Making mistake is good way to succeed.

  • Hi there! Just started following you and your resources are incredible! I just have a question….how do you make your books? Do you bind them yourself? If so, where do you get the materials to do that?

    My email is Jessica.shelp@gmail.com if its easier to email!

  • Hello! You wrote that there are tons of articles about growth mindset on the internet. Would you please recommend a few for 8th grade?


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Welcome! My name is Brittany Jeltema, also known as The SuperHERO Teacher, and I am a curriculum designer and classroom flipper. I have a strong passion for helping teachers reach as many students as possible through creativity, engagement, and empowerment!

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