Creating a Building-Wide Growth Mindset Culture Can Reduce Teacher Burnout
Teachers and administrators are leaving the field in droves. This isn’t news to anyone in education. They’ve been seeing it continue to happen, and even increase, over the last two years. The percentage of people with inactive licenses has increased dramatically and the number of people entering the field continues to decline. These people leaving the field are people who CHOSE education. They chose to do the challenging work of showing up each day to support students. Yet, they feel like they have to leave. Beyond the concrete solutions, like axis3, that support teacher retention, what else can you be focusing on as a building leader or educator? Creating a culture that allows educators to thrive and rely on a growth mindset. Let’s explore three types of school building culture – what we hear when it doesn’t exists, what impact that has on burnout, and what growth mindset principles to lean on to change it.
Educators are valued.
Are you hearing statements like this? “I’m not sure anyone really understands what I do each day.” This is a sign of feelings of resentment, lack of clarity, and de-professionalism.
Utilize Growth Mindset Measures to Shift to a Culture of Value:
- Model positive attitudes. No, not everything has to feel happy, but a culture in which people embrace a positive attitude and recognize the impact it has on themselves and others, is a culture where people feel they CAN be positive. Positivity creates a feeling of momentum and excitement versus feelings of being stuck.
- Work hard and celebrate the work. What if instead of saying ‘this is hard work’, we said, ‘this is meaningful work’? Working hard helps us all improve and gets us closer to the outcome we all desire. Create an environment where working hard is meaningful and an experience to learn more about each other.
You will know that you are on the right track when you start to hear statements such as: “I’m happy to play such a critical role in supporting the success of my students and our building.”
Educators are experts.
Are you hearing statements like this? “I feel so good when I’m in the classroom and like a disaster when I’m facilitating an IEP meeting.” This is a sign that there are feelings of incompetence and a lack of confidence.
Utilize a Growth Mindset Measures to Shift to a Culture of Expertise:
- Individualized feedback. Feedback is hard. It can feel uncomfortable. And it’s in those moments, that everyone grows. Create an environment in which everyone is working on providing valuable feedback in unique ways that support each individual.
- Try new things. It can be very easy in education to do the same thing over and over again. If it’s working, it’s hard to change! However, when we try something new, we learn more about ourselves and the people around us. It allows us to practice failing and expands our curiosity.
You will know that you are on the right track when you start to hear statements such as: “I’m not sure this will be something I’m very good at. At least I know I can always try it and change it if it doesn’t work!”
Educators are connected.
Are you hearing statements like this? “Is it this hard for all first-year special ed teachers?” It is an indication that there are feelings of isolation, doubt, and worry present.
Utilize a Growth Mindset Measures to Shift to a Culture of Connection:
- Reachable goals. Create goals that you KNOW you and your team can obtain. Nothing feels better than high fiving when a goal is achieved. Achievable goals can also be rigorous. When we achieve a small goal, we are encouraged to try something bigger the next time.
- Say ‘I can!’ The script that runs in our heads will always challenge us with CAN’T. Right when you find yourself saying it or hearing someone else saying it, challenge back with ‘I can’, ‘you can’ or ‘we can’. There are always more things we can do, than what we can’t.
You will know that you are on the right track when you start to hear statements such as: “This first year was a challenge and I’m so grateful I had the team around me to help me through.”
How is your building doing with a growth mindset culture? We’d love to hear about it. We work with outstanding leaders and teachers to create outstanding environments where everyone can thrive. Stay connected by joining us at The Connected Educator Summit and check out our courses for impactful PD on your schedule. Also, download some free SEL materials on the topic of Growth Mindset here.
Written by Elizabeth Orme, Founder & CEO, Creatively Focused