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This letter is written by a middle school student, Ellie, who attends a school that is cultivating growth mindsets through staff development, Brainology lessons, and other site-wide efforts.  The student insightfully shares HER growth mindset journey.

Ellie discusses what it is like to try to change your own mindset, and gives us a view into the mind of a really terrific kid.

Dear Mr. O,EllieLetter

This isn't another concern letter, I just wanted to share with you what has gone on academically in my life lately. In wellness class, science, and many other of my classes all I have heard is growth mindset, growth mindset, and growth mindset. In reality, I haven't really thought, "Wow, I can get through this problem with my growth mindset!" In wellness, I always think that my life doesn't truly depend on a growth mindset to get around. I mean, yeah, every once and a while I get a really bad score, and might need to get my growth mindset helmet on.

On my last Spanish quiz, which I did poorly on, at first I thought to myself in class, oh my goodness gracious my life is over; what am I even going to do! My classmate turned to me and glanced down at my paper and asked, "What did you get?" being in the mood I was now in, I snapped back at her, "I don't want to talk about it!" I know that probably didn't hurt her feelings, but I'm sure she thought I was being mean to her. Later that evening, when I went home and started my homework, I decided to do corrections. After finishing my corrections I realized, "Whoa, I kind of used a growth mindset, huh?" After thinking this, I thought that it might be a good idea to look over Quizlet one last time, even though I wasn't assigned to do so. This was the first time this year I completely used a reference from wellness. Not saying that I don't, just that I did everything in my power to use my bad grade as an advantage. Honestly, I was proud of myself.

A few days after my Spanish quiz incident, I had a very busy night. I was juggling a field hockey game, soccer practice, and other homework to do. This isn't unusual in my life, but I was in a particularly lazy mood. I had twenty math problems to complete and I was just about keeling over because they were about the distributive property. These take me forever to do! So, I left math for last, even though that is probably one of the worst things I could have done. When I started it, and I realized how long it took me to do one problem, I timed myself. I really wanted to know how long this would take me. I ended up estimating around an hour and a half. That's when my already unhappy-self had a mini melt down. I had gotten ten problems finished, and that was it! I stormed out of my room and went to go complain to my parents. After telling them in the most exaggerated manor I could, they told me to try to finish, and that I should write a note to Mr. Helmick. It wasn't a bad idea, so I went along with it and finished five more problems. Now that I was tired of math, and wrote a letter I said "Eh, fifteen out of twenty isn't that bad, is it?"

I ended up turning it in as is with the note as well. Of course now I realize that this was a crazy bad idea. I had a fixed mindset and nothing was going to change it, at the time. I should have tried to finish and written a nicer note, or just talked to my teacher in person. I guess just because I had a growth mindset once, doesn't mean I'll have it forever after. This I need to work on. Thank you for reading this. I thought eighth grade was going to be pretty easy, already going through three years of middle school and all. I thought this was my year to shine and that "A+"s would come naturally. Don't worry though, just because the going can get tough doesn't mean this can't be the year for me to excel!



About Mindset Works
Mindset Works was co-founded by one of the world's leading researchers in the field of motivation, Stanford University professor Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. and K-12 mindset expert Lisa S. Blackwell, Ph.D. The company translates psychological research into practical products and services to help students and educators increase their motivation and achievement.