Back to Blog
Trends in STEM

3 Ways to Encourage Positive Thinking in Your Classroom

One of the many factors that determine a student’s academic and personal growth is the mindset they bring to class each day. Their ability to persevere when faced with setbacks or hardship not only impacts their engagement in the classroom but is also predictive of their resilience outside an academic setting.

Educators can cultivate environments that foster this type of positive thinking, instilling the necessary skills to overcome challenging situations and bounce back from temporary setbacks to achieve any goal.

Below are three tips you can use today to help encourage a positive mindset in your students.


Promote Gratitude

Beyond having a positive impact on personal well-being and relationships with others, promoting a sense of gratitude can help establish a supportive environment where all students feel heard and respected.

Andrea Hussong, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recommends focusing on four key skills to practice gratitude:

  1. Notice the things (big and small) you can be grateful for.
  2. Think about why you have received these things, and who made them possible.
  3. Feel the emotions that arise from connecting with those who have shown you kindness, love and generosity.
  4. Do something to express your gratitude.

Engaging in classroom activities that invite students to engage in these four skills – whether in a journal or in a shared group setting – will help them realize and internalize their gratitude.


Share Inspiring Role Models

Positive role models serve as sources of inspiration for students, helping them realize what they too can achieve. When it comes to identifying role models in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, introducing diverse role models is especially important because it contributes to ongoing efforts to foster greater diversity and innovation within these career fields.

Part of our mission at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® is to share the stories of our Inductees – the world’s greatest inventors. In addition to incorporating valuable lessons from these diverse innovators into all our PreK-12 education programs, we also provide free, inventor-inspired STEM activities you can use in your classroom.


Embrace a Growth Mindset

Popularized by famed psychologist Carol Dweck, a growth mindset is one that views setbacks as part of the learning process and provides opportunities for continuous improvement. To cultivate this way of thinking, help your students focus not on their end result (a letter grade, completed project, creative work) but on the hard work and effort they put forth.

In an article published by Edutopia, Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers, internationally recognized experts in the subject of brain-based teaching and leading, suggest that one effective way to help students build a growth mindset is to have them create a success file, where they can keep concrete examples of past learning successes. To do this, Wilson and Conyers recommend the following strategy:

  1. Give each student a folder to use as their success file.
  2. Ask students to write the word “success” on their file, and/or draw a picture that represents success to them.
  3. Each day, ask students to add examples of successful learning to their folders. These could include completed tasks, challenges they’ve overcome or anything that supports their unique definition of success.
  4. Begin each day or class period by reminding students to review their success file. This will help them build a positive mindset, which can lead to additional academic and personal success.


Looking for More Educator Resources?

For additional resources designed to support your students, we invite you to subscribe to our educator email newsletter here by clicking here.

Related Articles