This month we had some terrific entries, so we decided to honor the entries of four educators! The Growth Minded Educators of September are: Marina Gijzen, John Burk, Lakisha Covert, and Leanna Picard. Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all who participated! We received many fantastic submissions, and will reach out to some of you to discuss potential methods of incorporating your ideas and experiences into other areas of the Growth Mindset community.

Below are the winning entries to the contest question, "What techniques are you planning to use to increase student motivation during the next school year?

Marina Gijzen, Grade 3 teacher, Qi Xia Districit, Nanjing P.R. China

Goal Setting, Intentions and a Growth Mindset

  • Set a goal
  • Identify the ʻblocksʼ
  • Write an intention to overcome the block
  • Visualize what it looks like to have achieved the goal
  • Visualize what it will look like to have achieved this goal: Draw a picture
  • End of the week: Reflect

Keep working towards the goal until it has been achieved.

John Burk, Physics Teacher, Westminster Schools, Atlanta, GA

Here's a description of an activity I do to help my students develop more of a Growth Mindset. I ask them to complete an assignment where they think of one thing they understand well—it might be something from class, a hobby or sport. Then I ask them to tell me how they came to understand it, and finally how they know that they understood that topic.


The interesting thing is that 90% of my students choose something like a sport or a hobby; they say they came to learn it through lots of practice and learning from mistakes, and they know they understood it well because they could teach it to someone else or adapt it to new situations.


Almost no one picks something they learned in school, and we talk about why this is—students are afraid of failure in the classroom because it's often attached to bad grades. Students aren't pushed as effectively in a classroom setting, and often settle for shallow learning because they're often of the mindset that they can't do the subject/motivated by grades, and assessments are rarely authentic.


So we set a goal for our class to help students understand physics, and make our exploration of physics feel much more like a 3-5 sport, than 8-3 school day requirement.


You can read more about this on my blog at




Lakisha Covert, Principal, Lamont Elementary School, New Carrollton, MD

As school principal, I am conducting Growth Mindset presentations with all 590 students. When explaining the concepts, I use a plant to represent a Growth Mindset and a brick for a Fixed Mindset. In the hall, there is a huge Growth Mindset tree. Each week a Growth Mindset quote will be announced over the PA system. Then, a leaf with the quote will be placed on the tree. By the end of the school year, the tree will be filled with leaves containing the quotes. Students who memorize the quotes each week will enter a raffle for a chance to announce the quote of the week. Randomly, I myself as the principal will wear a Growth Mindset apron full of treats. When I walk down the hall I will pick a student to say the quote. If they have it memorized, they will receive feedback and a treat from the apron. Each teacher will be given a Growth Mindset lesson based on the Growth vs. Fixed mindset Brainology chart once a month. I will develop the lesson plan for teachers and they can modify it if they choose. We are the only Growth Mindset school in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Thanks Dr. Dweck!



Leanna Picard, Math Teacher, 6th-10th Lead Teacher, Alexander Twilight Secondary, Sacramento, CA

This year my focus is on Growth Mindset. First, I will be giving my 8th math grade students a pre-assessment on how they tackle challenging problems, how they interact in group work situations, and their basic overall knowledge of Growth Mindset. After, I will give a presentation on the ideas of Fixed and Growth Mindsets. In partners, students then create Growth Mindset posters to hang around the classroom. As a whole class activity, we create a poster on how to grow more dendrites, and the students come up with specific ways they can become smarter. This year, I will also be working with the science teacher to do lessons on how the brain works and how we store memories. To tie everything together, I will be giving my students problems of the week to test out their new outlooks on how they succeed in the classroom.