A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your talents and abilities through hard work, good strategies, and help from others. It stands in opposition to a fixed mindset, which is the belief that talents and abilities are unalterable traits, ones that can never be improved.
We typically teach students a growth mindset through online programs that demonstrate how the brain changes with learning (how the neurons grow stronger connections when students work on hard things and stick with them) and how to apply this to their schoolwork.
"Great effort" became the consolation prize for children who weren't learning. So the very students who most needed to learn about developing their abilities were instead receiving praise for their ineffective effort.
Teachers need to tell the truth. They can acknowledge laudable effort, but they also need to acknowledge when students are not learning effectively, and then work with them to find new learning strategies. (By the way, exhorting students to try hard is another ineffective practice that does not teach a growth mindset.)
Skilled educators set high standards for students but then help them understand how to embark on the path to meeting those standards. It's not a hollow promise.
In the safety of these classrooms, students can begin to leave behind their fixed mindset and try out the idea that they can develop their abilities. We see this happening when teachers give students:
Honest and helpful feedback
Advice on future learning strategies
Opportunities to revise their work and show their learning
In order to work toward more of a growth mindset, we need to observe ourselves and find our triggers. Just spend several weeks noticing when you enter a more threatened, defensive state. Don't judge yourself. Don't fight it. Just observe. Then, as Susan Mackie advises, give your fixed mindset persona a name. Talk to it, calling it by name, when it shows up. Over time, try to recruit it to collaborate on your challenging goals instead of letting it undermine you with doubts and fears.