Growth Mindset Journey to Now

Growth Mindset Meta-analysis blog

My visual journey to now,

As excited and overjoyed as I was to begin my Doctoral program into Creativity and Generative Design, thinking about the overwhelming stressful commitment of this three-year life changing commitment, I had to keep telling myself,

I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was fighting a,

Then we began to read the book that started my brain to sprout.  The ideas and concepts presented by the author were some that I’d never entertained the thought of beforehand.  This book challenged my thinking about gifted and talented, especially since I have my gifted and talented certification from DESE


The information ignited a fire in me for reaching all students in my classroom no matter what previous labels and negative experiences had transpired up until that point.  I had an epiphany of wanting to change my classroom teaching and approach.

Then came the fuel to the fire that took my flame from flicker to three alarm status, with Carol Dweck’s,

This revolutionary style of thinking and teaching takes the limits off of teachers to become the facilitators and students to grow their brains and mindsets through hard work, effort, and perseverance by changing our thinking and talking,


By taking a short assessment, anyone can discover their present mindset

After taking the above assessment, I realized that my mindset is not totally fixed based off of the following assessment results,

Assessment Feedback
Your Current Mindset:

Right now, you are unsure about whether you can develop your intelligence. You probably care about performing well and you do want to learn, but you may still think that achievement should come easily and feel a bit discouraged when you perform poorly at something.

You are moving toward a growth mindset, but there may be a few ideas holding you back from achieving all that you are capable of doing. It could be that you are reluctant to risk failure, or feel concerned about others’ judgments of you, because you see performance as a measure of your ability. Or you may have a few areas where you are not certain that you can “cut it.” If you are holding back from taking on challenges or trying new things, you probably have more potential than you are using!

People who believe that they can increase their intelligence through effort and challenge actually get smarter and do better in school, work, and life over time. They know that mental exercise makes their brains grow smarter—the same way that exercise makes an athlete stronger and faster. And they are always learning new ways to work smart and build their brains.

A growth mindset is something that you can develop. Would you like to find out how you can practice more of a growth mindset and reach your full potential? Visit to learn more.

I do believe the growth mindset resonates with me on a personal basis as well as a professional basis, and I will have to work hard to change and grow my mindset as I help my students to work hard to change and grow theirs.  We will all need to destroy the stinking thinking cycle.

These resources can be incorporated into the classroom to help students be malleable, as well as encourage and motivate them toward developing a growth mindset


A sharable resource for those educators who are incorporating growth mindset techniques, but are not seeing the success they would like with growth mindset should read,


At this point in this journey I have realized that the growth mindset way of life is summed up in these messages


Vielia /pronounced (Vielay)







Inviting Creativity into the Classroom: A Case Study


I teach two sections of English I Honors in a small, rural high school with approximately 100 incoming freshmen each year. Approximately 25-30 of those students are enrolled in an honors-level English class based on grades, test scores, and teacher recommendation. They have gotten into the honors track through hard work and determination. They have been told for years that they are “gifted,” which they have internalized as meaning they are naturally smarter than their peers. You would expect them to be oozing confidence. Yet, several of them are not confident in their reading and writing skills, the very skills that earned them a coveted spot in the honors class.

img_3708Some of my students get excited when I mention that our lesson is going to require them to be creative. Eyes grow wide. Smiles widen. But this does not describe the majority of my students. When confronted with questions that requires divergent thinking, some of them get downright flustered, shut down, or belittle themselves. For these students, creativity has become stressful and anxiety-inducing, rather than a source of joy and an opportunity to play. I believe that what separates the students who embrace creativity from those who fear it is a difference in what Dweck would call mindset. Students who shrink back from creativity don’t see their own creative potential. Some think that they were born without the “creativity gene,” and even exhibit defensive speak when tasked with using their creativity: “I’m not a creative person.” “I’m a Type A person” (Dweck 2016). In an attempt to combat this type of mindset, I began my school year with three goals: 1. Create a dialogue on what it means to be creative. 2. Engage students in learning activities that promote create thinking and problem-solving. 3. Ask students to engage in creativity outside of the classroom.

Creating a Dialogue with Students


A student Quick-Write on creativity.

They say that the first step is admitting there is a problem: creativity is not getting the attention that it deserves in American classrooms. In the name of high-stakes testing, “what counts as curriculum” has been narrowed down in many districts, with a push for tested subjects so strong that creativity has been pushed out entirely (Cordova 2012). I wanted to ensure that my students knew that creativity wasn’t “fluff” or a “dumbing down of the curriculum, but a necessary skills. So, I began the year by showing students TED Talks by experts in the field of creativity, with a focus on how creativity drives our businesses but also how it tends to decline with age (Brown 2008). They participated along with Tim Brown’s audience as he led them through the 50 circles test, noticing that their answers fell in line more closely with the creativity level of adults than the level of children. Students also responded to quotes on creativity from Picasso and Einstein, reflecting on their own beliefs and how those beliefs align or challenge the views of experts. The overarching theme that emerged was that often, children are discouraged from being creativity, which is sometimes viewed as “childish,” for the sake of being more “academic,” but that doesn’t have to be the case, as long as individuals continue to actively pursue their creativity, engaging in what Syed would call “deliberate practice” of imagination (Syed 2011).

Engaging Students in Creative Activities


A group rendering of the image as text.

Our class discussions on creativity paired well with a reading of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, which addresses the diminished creativity of adults head-on. The title character of the story expresses his distress at the fact that, when he shows adults his drawing, they are unable to see it for what it is  because they are more concerned with “matters of consequence.” Now that students had acknowledged that they are at a point where their childlike creativity is already fading, they were prepared to stretch their creative muscles with an activity in divergent thinking straight from the pages of Exupery. We analyzed the little prince’s misunderstood drawing and independently brainstormed possible interpretations of the sketch before sharing in small groups and then selecting their most divergent thoughts in a whole-group rendering of the image.

Exploring Creativity Outside of the Classroom


A student-created writer’s notebook entry.

Once students had experience in thinking outside of the box, I decided to have students create a writer’s notebook to document their creativity, which could include writing, art, design, observation, exploration, or any combination thereof. Many students drew ideas from journals that I keep in the classroom–such as Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal series or Quinn McDonald’s Raw Art Journaling–while others turned to Pinterest and Google to find, share, curate ideas for creative entries. The idea was to encourage students to take ownership of their creative growth through a quarter-long independent project. The best part of this project was overhearing students discuss their entries with each other. It was apparent that students had been sharing their writer’s’ notebooks with each other outside of class, actually having meaningful, organic discussions about their creative processes and acting as authentic audiences for one another in a way that I had not anticipated.



Next Steps

As the year progresses, I want to ensure that students engage in even more creative processes, including opportunities for divergent thinking and Responsive Design, a “design-centric theory of innovating” developed by the Cultural Landscapes Collaboratory (Cordova 2012), that can be harnessed to promote creativity in the classroom.  Additionally, I want to ensure that students are given ample time to reflect on their creative growth, its importance to them on an individual level, and its fundamental importance to society as a whole.  I want them to see creativity as an important skill to possess and exercise beyond the high school classroom, including in the workforce; I want them to understand that creativity can be just as important–if not more important–as analytical skills.

Related Sources

Brown, T. (2008). Tales of creativity and play. TED Talks. Retrieved from

Cordova, et. al. (2012). Nurturing creativity and professional learning for 21st century education: ResponsiveDesign and the cultural landscapes collaboratory. LEARNing landscapes, 6(1), 155-178.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York, NY. Random House.

Mindset quiz. (2016). National Council for Community & Education Partnerships. Retrieved from

Syed, M. (2011). Bounce: mozart, federer, picasso, backham, and the science of success. New York, NY. Harper Collins.

The Design Thinking Process-Design A Children’s Ministry Space



The Design Thinking Process-Design A Children’s Ministry Space

#1: Understand. Develop Background Knowledge

Observe your  physical spaces.  Talk with your Children’s Ministry Team of children, church leaders, church members, and community members. Talk about what the Children’s Ministry is doing.  Ask questions and reflect on what is seen. Throughout this process, develop a sense of empathy.  Explore the web, and get information for other designed Children Ministry spaces.


Little Mountain specializes in children’s, youth and adult spaces creating stage sets, themed environments, interior design and digital puppetry.


#2: Point of view.  Focus on becoming aware of the needs of the Children’s Ministry space, and develop insights.   How will changes  that will have an impact on the children’s experiences be made in the space?

How might we engage the culture of our Children’s Ministry?

How might we show and invite all cultures of people into the  space?

How might we have children move through the space?


How might children engage in our experience design?

How might we support our Children’s Ministry narrative?

How might we make our children feel powerful by having a clear cause and effect on their immediate environment?

How might we create sharable stories that children, parents, and church members tell through word-of-mouth in the community and social media?

How might we make use of best practices with technology to merge the Children’s Ministry space with digital spaces.

How might we design a free mobile app that serves as a guide and memory book in order to enhance the children’s experience while in the space.  For example, access to interesting biblical facts and photos of the surroundings.

How might we design a way that children and caregivers can take and place favorite pictures and memories from their visit into a personalized memory book.  This book can be  shared using social media and kiosks onsite at the church.

How might we involve volunteer teen techies and techies locally, nationally, and internationally, in our Design group?

How might we make our Children’s Ministry space accessible to children and caregivers with disabilities.

How might we make use of a themed approach?

How might we eliminate hallways with corridors?.  How can we create assembly spaces for a group experience, with breakout rooms.


#3: Ideate.  Brainstorm an immeasurable categorization of ideas.  Take this action with merriment.  Suspend judgement.  No idea is far-fetched.  No one’s ideas are rejected.  Create. Become wishful thinkers and risk takers.

According to Feinberg & Keller, 2010, who wrote “Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places”…Always keep in mind that the perception of scale for children is horizontal.  Children love small nooks or portals that are in scales with their own size.  Think about children crawling, walking, and sitting on the floor.


#4: Prototype.  Sketch and build models of the Children’s ministry teams ideas.

Don’t forget to add outdoor learning opportunities that  promote a direct experience with nature, and foster a sense of community and responsibility for the natural environment.

#5: Test.  Discuss what works and what doesn’t.  Then go back and modify the prototype.

Dream, create, and design a fantastic Children’s Ministry Space.




Skip to toolbar