March 6,  2020

Adult Growth Mindset

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.


3 Big Ideas

Carol Dweck defines growth mindset in this way: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” It remains a hot topic in education and parenting. I wondered how to apply this to professional development. Adult professional learning and a growth mindset are needed more in today’s schools and classrooms than ever before. Dr. Lisa Brady, school superintendent of Dobbs Ferry, New York, says, “Principals and teachers need to develop a growth mindset just as much as students do.”
See “Growth Mindset Quotes: 21 Inspiring Quotes on the Power of Persistence” and an opportunity to sign up for a free short PDF summary of Dweck’s work.

  1. Include the veteran voice: Some teachers might avoid adopting a new skill or technique for fear they might jeopardize their identity as highly skilled instructors. By reaching out to experienced teachers and including their perspective and wisdom, they are valued for the insights they offer. Try developing a new skill side-by-side with them. Be sure to share about the struggle and success!


  2. Give meetings/classes a face-lift: Meetings or classes where information is simply shared is a thing of the past. Collaboration using technology facilitates the inclusion of multiple voices and viewpoints from multiple locations. For example, using shared drives to hold exemplars and evidence for later use can be a powerful way to build connections. Additionally, using real-time video conferencing (Skype, Zoom, etc.) can allow schools and classrooms to connect to observe best practice in like-schools across the country and globe. This doesn’t diminish the need for a connected and collaborative culture where there are meetings and professional gatherings- -it reinforces it! We are social beings who enjoy sharing ideas and learnings with each other. Give learning multiple forums.


  3. Model a growth mindset: Be the educator-leader who never stops learning! Share your learning with others and even establish a practice of asking others what they are trying, learning, or practicing. Paula Rutherford of Just ASK Publications and Professional Development asks each of us often, “What have you learned since last we met/ (spoke)?” By asking, leaders communicate that they value and expect continuous learning, they know what teachers are trying and can then support their growth by offering resources.



“Becoming is better than being.”

    – Carol Dweck

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”  

  –  Unknown

1 Question

“What have you learned since we last met/spoke?”


About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.



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