News & Insights 2 August 2019

The Power of Yet: How discovering Growth Mindset had an impact not only on my teaching but on my path to self-care

When I first started teacher training, Carol Dweck’s research on Growth Mindset formed a central part of the training I received. I was so inspired by everything she said, especially by this quote:

“Instead of luxuriating in the power of yet, they were gripped in the tyranny of now.” (Carol Dweck, 2014)

I realised I definitely had a growth mindset professionally. I knew I was on a learning curve to becoming a teacher and I wanted to embed Growth Mindset strategies into my teaching practice. I can confidently say that I was able to do that. There was nothing more rewarding than, after a few months, hearing my pupils use these phrases with each other:

“I’ve tried really hard today.”

“I can see you’ve put in a lot of effort.”

“Wow, you didn’t give up with this tricky sound, well done!”

In my classroom and in my teaching practice, I had embedded a culture of continuous learning, growth and positivity, and I could see this in the way my pupils were starting to use my growth mindset language in their everyday life. However, in my personal life, everything was spiralling out of control.

Whilst struggling with missing my family, having no work-life balance and challenges with my mental health, I realised I was gripped in the tyranny of now, barely coping with the anxiety that was swallowing me up. I could see no way out. It was around that time that I started watching the Netflix series, Queer Eye, and was really struck by what one of the main stars of the show, Jonathan Van Ness, said:

“To me, self-care isn’t really shallow. Showing up for yourself, putting on a little moisturizer, can inspire so many different parts of your life.” (Jonathan Van Ness)

I realised I was not showing up for myself. I was not eating well, not exercising, not sleeping well, not taking time to myself, not taking care of my skin…So, after watching the episode, I bought myself a face moisturiser and a face wash. I knew that my wellbeing was not going to improve magically, and I needed to put in the effort and I could take self-care one step at a time. It might seem silly to some that a little bit of moisturiser would have such an impact on my wellbeing, but it wasn’t the moisturiser itself, it was what it represented: my first step in buying something to take care of myself. As people say, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.

One year on, recent steps I’ve taken to improve my wellbeing are: I joined an exercise class, I included more vegetables in my diet, I socialised more with friends…

The road to loving and taking care of yourself is long and I am not there yet, but I am luxuriating in this ‘power of yet’ and am miles further than I was this time last year, and I feel great.

Now, as Programme Coordinator at Action Tutoring, I aim to always include Growth Mindset training within the first few weeks of my programmes, hopefully inspiring tutors to use Growth Mindset techniques in their tutoring, just as Carol Dweck inspired me. This will not only have a profound impact on the pupils, but perhaps on the tutors as well.