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Why 'Yet' Is the Key for Teachers to Nurture a Growth Mindset in Math

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Why 'Yet' Is the Key for Teachers to Nurture a Growth Mindset in Math

Yet—It’s a simple word with the power to forever change a student’s mindset for learning.

When you add yet to the end of a proclamation, it implies a work in progress, soon to be, under construction, to be continued...

Yet gives hope.

And when your kids embrace the power of yet, they are able to develop a growth mindset—the attitude that learning is a process where mistakes are nothing more than opportunities to grow.

“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts)” says Stanford professor and mindset guru, Carol Dweck.

With a growth mindset, I can’t becomes I can’t...yet, which blazes the trail to I can!

This empowering mindset is critical in today’s math classroom, where the myth that only certain individuals are capable of understanding math continues to harm students and make them feel as if excelling in mathematics is forever beyond their reach.

But with a new school year comes a fresh opportunity to change your kids’ mindsets and to show them that everyone is capable of learning math as long as they are willing to work hard and learn from mistakes.

Are you ready to help your kids embrace the power of yet? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.) Practice at Home: Add yet to the end of sentences.  Go from “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet.” Did you hear the change?  Subtle, but powerful.

2.) Practice at School:  Once yet becomes more frequently used in your home vocabulary, you can begin using it more often at school.  Start with your colleagues. Go from “we can’t do it that way” to “we can’t do it that way yet.”  Now sit back and watch how contagious such a positive mindset can be!

3.) Bring "Yet"  Into Your Classroom: When students complain, “I can’t do this,” rephrase their proclamation by adding yet. "I can’t do this...yet” changes everything.  With yet at the end of this statement, your students can see that there is room for improvement. With hard work and persistence, kids can bridge the gap.

4.) Practice Often: Use yet liberally and with great emphasis. You’ll quickly notice your students using yet more often as well. It won't be long before you see great changes in the culture of your classroom.  

5.) Allow Yet on Assessments: By tweaking the popular text abbreviation IDK ("I Don't Know") to IDKY ("I Don't Know Yet), you empower students to apply growth mindset thinking on exam questions, which opens the door for further discussion, remediation, and review.  

By Mary Kienstra

Mary’s goal is to take the curriculum and shake it up, creating lessons that will engage and excite her students. She takes an unconventional approach to teaching, always encouraging student enthusiasm and excitement.  She believes that learning is best when it’s part of an experience, not a worksheet.  Mary’s career includes teaching math and reading to elementary age students, coaching, and blogging at  

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