In Connie Stone’s third grade class, students and herself included start each day by repeating a pledge out loud. It is a pledge to continually work hard, to learn from mistakes and to foster an attitude of belief in others and themselves.

Stone explains that this pledge is important because it helps the students get in the right mindset for the day. This idea of getting in the right mindset is explained by Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University. Dweck describes two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, students believe their attributes are fixed traits that cannot change. They also believe no effort is required to improve their abilities. However, with a growth mindset, students believe and understand that learning is a process that takes time. With time and effort, students believe their abilities and intelligence can be improved.

A growth mindset is something Stone tries to instill in each of her students by not only reciting a special pledge, but also through self-reflection. At the end of each day, every student has the opportunity to journal their feelings and answers to the following three questions:

  1. What did you learn today?
  2. What mistakes did you make that taught you something?
  3. What did you try hard today?

By reflecting on these questions, students can day by day rebuild their confidence and work towards improving their skills. Stone argues, “It’s not shameful to make mistakes”. If students become aware of and accepting of their mistakes, they can learn and move forward. Stone says she also takes advantage of this journaling time to find ways to improve as a teacher.

As a teacher, Stone realizes that school is tough and often times discouraging, but she knows that self-reflection along with the right mindset can help students achieve greatness. She already sees improvement among her students and will continue to apply these practices day by day.