When the Growth Mindset Shines Bright

Teach Better TeamBlog, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • Unlock the unlimited potential within yourself by modeling a growth mindset for students.
  • Despite any setbacks or challenges, we have a say in where we focus our thoughts and energy.
  • This post shares the story of Michael Jordan and how his growth mindset led him to success.

Success never comes without obstacles to overcome. Buried deep within any of these obstacles either are opportunities for growth or self-limiting beliefs. However, the very person that will decide which direction your obstacles will lead to…is you! As we embark upon new territories and unexpected challenges ahead for learning, I think it is important for us all to remember that within this “new normal” there are still many silver linings to embrace. 

Growth Mindset

Source: Edutopia

There are definitely self-limiting beliefs related to the way things “used to be.” We can find these negative beliefs in endless places if we choose to look for them. They can flash across your face every time you look at your cell phone or read the media.

However, you have the choice to control your brain. Yes, to put it simply, you actually can convince or trick your brain into thinking in the best direction toward growth. It’s your choice. You decide. Having a growth mindset will increase your work rate, persistence, and determination. It will lead your trajectory toward living out your life’s purpose. 

Remote learning, hybrid, or 100% in-person environments all have challenges and opportunities. We are all at the mercy of the pandemic. The patterns of your thoughts and beliefs are important to be aware of as we continue to do what’s best for the students in our schools. 

Focusing on opportunities for growth when times are tough can lead you out of the darkness and into the light. Once you are able to unlock the unlimited potential within yourself, your students will follow. It begins with the choices you make and where you focus your thinking.

Consider Which Thoughts You Would Rather Live By 

  • How can we teach with masks on? —or— At least we are going to see students again who have not had an inspirational teacher in their life for months.
  • How can we teach new students remotely again? —or— I am proud that I get to be there today for my students. I am proud to be a mentor, listener, and role model.
  • There are so many things we don’t have enough time to do. —or— All we have is time. Every moment we are with our students are teachable moments.
Focusing on opportunities for growth when times are tough can lead you out of the darkness and into the light. Once you are able to unlock the unlimited potential within yourself, your students will follow. Click To Tweet

Keep the Fire Burning

You are in control of the content you read. Be aware what you pay attention to! Surround yourself with positive people in your media feeds like Jeff Gargas, Rae Hughart, Dave Schmittou, and the rest of the Teach Better Team.

Follow Brian Aspinall, Jonathan Alsheimer, Dr. Frank Rudnesky, Darrin Peppard, Don Epps, Staff Room Podcast, March Ryan with #RunandRant, and so many more. Jump on a #Twitterchat. There are so many.

You will be inspired and can learn an insane amount in 30 minutes. You control your media feed and whenever you slow down your scrolling it should serve to light your fire instead of trying to put it out.  

Growth Mindset Can’t Have an On/Off Switch

The growth mindset is not something you should be turning on and off. That is not going to be a healthy way for you to live. Try to be as consistent as possible. Surround yourself with awesome fuel for your brain that empowers you and keeps you focused on your “why.” 

Successful people utilize a growth mindset. That’s a fact. Michael Jordan’s story shows us the perfect example of how we can take setbacks and turn them into a positive mindset. Michael embraced some of the most defeating moments in his life. Within those moments he discovered his true grit and journeyed to greatness with historical success.

Michael Jordan’s Last Dance

As a sophomore at Emsley A. Laney High School, Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team and was cut. He was too small at 5’10” and couldn’t dunk. He went home and cried. Then, his growth mindset kicked in, and he picked himself back up. 

Source: Getty Images


He practiced every day at 5am with the coach who cut him from the team. He practiced before practice, after practice, and anywhere else he could. When times got tough, he committed to working harder to overcome the obstacles along the way. He went on to score several 40-point games as a JV player that season. He became obsessed with improving instead of focusing on the fact that he was cut from the team.

Visualize It. Believe It! 

Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it,” Jordan would say. Obviously, the next year he made the varsity team and capped off his senior year by being named a McDonald’s All American. The rest is history. 


Michael’s successful career, like any professional athlete or human being for that matter, was also full of challenges and setbacks. Prior to winning the first three consecutive NBA championships from 1991-1993, the Bulls lost to the Detroit Pistons 3 seasons in a row. This was one of the lowest points of Michael’s career. Michael was fed up, and once again his growth mindset took over. 

Michael went back into the gym, put on more than 15 pounds of muscle, and his team finally beat the Pistons, beginning their road to their first of six NBA championships. To this day, he is only one of four players in the NBA to win that many championships.

Positive Results

Jordan’s career in the NBA was remarkable. He earned NBA Rookie of the Year, 6 NBA championships, 5 NBA Championship MVPs, and appeared in 14 All-Star games. Michael was known for constantly pushing himself and others around him to be better. 

The Power of the Story

Michael’s story is important for any teacher and student to know. He was not born with the ability to be one of the best basketball players ever. Michael was determined, worked extremely hard, and never became satisfied with a championship. He wanted more from himself and the others around him. Teammates like Steve Kerr, Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong, and even Scottie Pippen were inspired by his work ethic and his competitive nature. They grew stronger together.

Bring stories like Michael’s into your classroom. Tell them to your students.

Growth Mindset and Successful People

There are very few people in history who have had success without utilizing a growth mindset. There are even fewer people who have developed success in those around them who did not believe in the strength of a growth mindset. If you believe in the growth mindset and live it to the fullest, then you are capable of believing in the unlimited potential of others

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Moving Forward

We all have setbacks, challenges, and difficult experiences. However, in the end, the stories that are told and remembered most are about those who persevered and found the silver lining. As you move forward with your students, you must remember your “why.” You are there to serve your students. They are in need of an educator who can make this the best year ever. You want them to tell stories about you someday. 

Be the educator who led your students to the promised land in the midst of a pandemic. You can make learning experiences fun and enjoyable. Smile. Dance from 6 feet away. Laugh. Celebrate. Create once in a lifetime memories during this historic moment. 

You always have a choice on where to focus your energy and thinking. Now, let’s get out there and make this dream a reality. 

And remember…“A bend in the road is not the end, unless you fail to make the turn.”


About Brandon Beck

Dr. Brandon Beck is a National Board Certified teacher and Award Winning Professional Soccer Coach. He also holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. His primary purpose as an educator and teacher leader is a simple one: “To inspire people (adults and kids) to have faith in themselves and believe in their inner genius.”

He has been an elementary teacher for 20 years, a monolingual, dual language teacher for the past 10, and holds a wide range of educational experience in versatile settings. He is also a Professor at Manhattanville College, NY, an editor and reviewer for AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, a regular presenter at state, regional, and national conferences, a motivational speaker, life coach, and an education consultant.

As a researcher, writer, educator, and consultant his areas of expertise include: Self-Efficacy, Teacher Effectiveness, English Language Learners, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Social Emotional Learning, Therapeutic Animals, Coaching, Professional Development, and Teacher Preparation.

Dr. Beck is a Mutt-i-grees National Trainer. Mutt-i-grees is a program designed by Yale University’s School for the 21st Century in partnership with North Shore Animal League. The Mutt-i-grees curriculum is an innovative Pre-K – Grade 12 social emotional learning program that brings adopted shelter dogs into schools.

Dr. Beck is also an entrepreneur, ex semi-pro soccer player, and a professional soccer coach. He is currently a nationally certified instructor for the United States Soccer Federation. In addition, he has coached High School and Premier soccer teams that have won numerous state, regional, and national championships.