How to Adopt a Growth Mindset

How to Adopt a Growth Mindset
A Union Colony Preparatory School student works independently at a desk. He is using paper, pencil and a math manipulative called algebra tiles.

I’m terrible at math. 

I’ve never been good at drawing.

There’s no way I can learn to play the piano, it’s too hard.

Most of us have experienced this type of negative self-talk at some point in our lives. We believe we could never learn to play an instrument, speak another language or be good at math because we compare ourselves to others who make it look easy. If it doesn’t come easy, then we tell ourselves it’s not possible.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Not only is this type of thinking not true, it can be quite harmful to our self-image and self-esteem. It prevents us from trying new things and encourages us to quit if something is too hard. Ultimately, it limits our growth and achievement. This type of thinking is called a Fixed Mindset: the belief that intelligence and ability is innate and unchangeable

The opposite of this type of thinking is a Growth Mindset: the belief that humans can learn new things through practice, failure and perseverance. Those with a growth mindset believe that we can learn and grow with effort and hardwork. The key to success, says groundbreaking researcher and Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, lies in what we believe about ourselves: 

The significance here is that when students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort, challenge, perseverance, and even failure will make them stronger. Therefore, they put in extra time, effort, and persistence which leads to higher achievement.


A Union Colony Preparatory School student works at her desk with pencil and paper. There are other students in the background also working at shared tables.

How to Adopt a Growth Mindset

At Union Colony, we’ve adopted this powerful way of thinking to help each of our students achieve their full potential. Our highly skilled teachers create safe classroom environments for students to challenge themselves, take risks and bounce back from failure. Here are a few ways we support all of our students to adopt a growth mindset at our tuition-free K-12 schools:


  • We teach about the brain. Our students know that just like our muscles, our brains grow and increase capacity based on the intensity of training. With hard work, our abilities and knowledge can grow, too. 
  • We reframe failure.  We normalize the struggle. We know that setbacks can build resilience if you view them as a learning experience. We ask: What did you learn from this failure? What can you do differently next time? What more do I need to know or do before I try again? 
  • We reward (safe) risk-taking. The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step. And sometimes the first step can be the toughest. Healthy risk taking behavior leads to greatness–get started and see what happens!
  • We rally around our students who try hard things! A strong support team, who cheer you on and help pick you up when you fall, is a wonderful safety net when we fail. 
  • We praise effort and hard work, not intelligence. By encouraging perseverance and effort, we show students that everyone is capable of achieving, not just the “smart” ones.

At Union Colony Schools, we also embrace the word “yet” in our vocabulary. 


I haven’t learned my multiplication tables yet.

I can’t yet figure out how to solve this problem so it’s a win-win.

“I’m not ready to perform in the talent show, yet.”


“Yet” signals to students that it’s ok to take your time and not succeed the first time. We can stumble and still keep trying. Failure is an option on the way to success. 


Our successes are that much sweeter at Union Colony because we have truly earned them. 

When you enroll at Union Colony Schools, you join a community of learners who embrace the process and celebrate growth. It’s an incredibly rewarding way to learn. 


About Union Colony Schools

Union Colony Schools provide a tuition-free college prep education rich in arts, music, technology and athletics to students in the greater Greeley, Colorado area. With two convenient campuses serving K-5 and 6-12, our dedicated teachers educate for a life of leadership and academic success. Our close-knit, highly rated K-12 schools are evidence of our Excellence in Education. Join us, we're enrolling.

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