Using Growth Mindset in school counseling happens naturally if you follow the Solution Focused Brief Counseling (SFBC) model. Since many of the SFBC and Growth Mindset principles overlap, it is often seamless to use both in your work with students. Read on for explanations of Growth Mindset and SFBC as they apply to school counseling. Then we’ll jump into Growth Mindset tips and techniques that you can use with your own students!
Growth Mindset in School Counseling…with SFBC
The focus of SFBC is to guide the student to create a solution in a limited amount of time. SFBC is based on the assumption that students have the resources to solve their problems and that counseling is most effective when one creates solutions to their self-perceived problems (Sobhy and Cavallaro, 2010). It is probably the main counseling theory that school counselors use because it is so effective in helping students solve their problems and because it lends itself especially well to the time constraints of counseling in the school environment.
School counselor time in working with students is super limited due to huge caseloads and due to working in an environment where the focus is on academics and not on mental health needs. Thus, the school counselor is always rushing- to get their current student back into class and to get to the next student on their caseload. So where does Growth Mindset factor in? Well, so many of the SFBC techniques embody the Growth Mindset perspective! Read on for more details…
Growth Mindset in School Counseling
Carol Dweck, the founder of the Growth Mindset states, “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.” Because so many student problems can be solved by changing the student’s mindset, it’s very enlightening for students to approach problem solving from a Growth Mindset perspective. Using SFBC techniques such as reframing the problem and celebrating small accomplishments are very much aligned with the Growth Mindset beliefs.
Helping Students Solve Problems with Growth Mindset
The activities below are applicable to solving all kinds of student problems and many of them also foster Growth Mindset. The following activities will show students how to behave or reframe their thoughts so that they can solve whatever is most problematic to them. Most of these activities will also simultaneously help students improve their grades and behavior.
Growth Mindset in School Counseling: Goal Work
Ask your students to think through what they are already doing well, then brainstorm ways that they can do more of this. Guide your students to set small goals that can be achieved and built upon over time. Then praise their progress, no matter how small.
After deciding on a goal with the student, write it down together, using index cards. Photocopy the goal card and, if you are in a school setting, send it to them weekly. Alternately, if you are in a non-school setting, you can give the student a copy each time you meet with them. This weekly goal reminder is crucial is helping the student/client to remember, revise, and achieve their goal.
Growth Mindset in School Counseling: Change Your Perspective
Show your student this picture of Ferryden Primary School’s Growth Mindset stairwell to foster a discussion of how they might apply each step to their own problem that they are trying to solve. Discuss the following questions.
- Which step are you on today with your ________ problem that you want to solve?
- What would it take for you to go one step higher than where you are today?
- What will your life look or be like when you are on the top step?
Another way to expose students to Growth Mindset is to watch this fabulous Michael Jordan commercial. The video views failure from a completely different (and better!) perspective. Showing this commercial is a great way to kick off a fab discussion about how a test is just a test! You can also discuss with them how test failure today can lead to academic success tomorrow.
Growth Mindset in School Counseling: Brave the Wilderness!
Teach your students to “Brave the Wilderness!” This means teaching them that it is fine and even necessary, at times, to be on their own and to do their own thing. It also means teaching them the difference between belonging (being a part of a group that wants you there) and fitting in (being a part of a group that is indifferent to you).
All of these ideas are essentially common sense values that Brene Brown has managed to articulate in a way that we can all understand. She does this through her fabulous book, Braving the Wilderness- it is a must-read for educators and counselors! Begin teaching your students the skill of “braving the wilderness”! Guide them to explore, choose, and apply their healthy coping skills when they are feeling nervous about “braving their wilderness”- here is a link to an activity on healthy coping skills. Another way to help them master this wilderness skill is by telling them to believe in and belong to themselves first!
Growth Mindset in School Counseling: Resources
Obviously, these ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg for using Growth Mindset in school counseling. If you need more resources, below is an individual counseling guide and a group counseling guide that are full of SFBC and Growth Mindset techniques and ideas!
- The individual counseling sessions guide, Where There’s a Goal, There’s a Way (or ¡Gol! if you need the Spanish bilingual version)
- The group counseling guide, Get Your Group On!
Newsy & Noteworthy
February was a super exciting month for us at my school! We were awarded the CREST excellence in school counseling award by the Texas School Counseling Association AND we celebrated National School Counseling Week (NSCW) at my school with lots of announcements, signs, certificates, and info-sharing. Our main goal was to share info on the fabulous school counseling profession. We also educated our people about the appropriate roles and duties of the school counselor! While we didn’t expect any gifts or goodies (NSCW is to celebrate the profession, not the individual counselor), we were so grateful for the love we felt from our staff!
In other exciting news, my second group counseling book is all done and now available for preorder! Get Your Group On Volume Two will include counseling guides on the topics of stress management, grief/loss, and academic achievement! Here’s the link if you want to take a closer look or order your copy now!
I also have a brand new guidance lesson on college and career readiness that even includes career interest inventories! This resource includes two 90 minute lesson plans! It has website links and activities to start the college prep process as well as detailed information on the 16 career clusters. It also includes a college and career readiness vocabulary game and counselor request forms. This lesson is appropriate for upper elementary through high school students. Click on the photo below for more details or to download it!
Finally, I had a blast at the TX School Counseling Conference in Galveston presenting on crisis, groups, and advocacy! But the highlight of my year was getting to experience my first book signing event! We sold out of Get Your Group On Volume 1, so I felt it was all a big success!
That brings us to the end of March’s counseling post. Please leave a comment because I’d love to hear about your experiences in using Growth Mindset in school counseling. Catch up with me again next month when I discuss how to help kids battle test stress and anxiety in general as schools across the nation gear up for the state testing beast!