Annie Brock – The Growth Mindset Playbook, Early Childhood Edition

Do you want the playbook to unlock your student’s full potential? Lucky for you, today’s guest is Annie Brock who literally wrote the book on growth mindset in the classroom! She actually wrote multiple books on growth mindset! In this episode, Annie shares incredible strategies and research to help you bring growth mindset into your classroom and into your students’ lives!

A fixed mindset is the belief that talents, skills, and abilities cannot be developed; that they are fixed and set in stone at birth. Fixed mindset people think that they are either born with a talent, or they are not — and that’s the end of it. Except the story doesn’t end there! A growth mindset says the these things can be developed with hard work, dedication, and practice. A person’s potential is unknown and unknowable. It is impossible to predict what someone (or you) can accomplish with years of passion, toil and training. When a person puts in the effort, they WILL grow. And we cannot put a limitation on that growth. Annie discusses exactly how to encourage and support this belief in the classroom so kids always see the possibilities of their potential!

A key component of growth mindset has to do with process praise vs. person praise. When we praise the person by saying, “You’re so smart, artistic, intelligent, well-behaved,” well, then we are feeding their identity and attaching these characteristics to something innate about them (and therefore, something that cannot change). But when we praise the process, by focusing on a student’s hard work, their strategies, their capacity for improvement — kids see this as things that are within their control and will continue to seek out challenges to hone these skills. On the flip side, if a student sees themselves as brilliant, they aren’t going to put themselves in challenging situations where their “brilliance” may be threatened. With a growth mindset classroom, we should always associate achievement with the work that it took to get there rather than anything internal.

Annie provides all types of cultural callbacks to work through throughout the year so kids (and teachers) understand the building blocks of growth mindset. She lays out great culture-building ideas and phrases like “fail forward,” “mistakes help us grow,” “feedback is a gift — accept it!,” “challenges grow my brain” — and these are just a few examples of the framework for building a growth mindset classroom. For the full list, make sure to listen to the full episode here!

My favorite moment of this entire conversation had to be our discussion about the power of “yet.” Annie explained that there is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET. The word “yet” offers a promise of the future. It is not here YET, but it is coming. Some teachers and schools have even implemented this strategy much further, getting rid of failing grades and replacing them with “Not Yet.” Failing has a finality to it. It’s over. But with not yet, students are still given the opportunity to pass and more importantly, learn! This is a strategy I have already implemented in my personal and professional life with great results.

For more amazing strategies and to learn more about Annie and her awesome work, listen to this week’s episode of the Punk Rock Preschool podcast!


Show Notes:

  • 02:40 – Introduction
  • 04:04 – Growth Mindset Definition
  • 06:28 – Why Is Growth Mindset So Important?
  • 11:54 – Cultural Callbacks and Mantras
  • 18:32 – Show Rather Than Tell that Growth Mindset Pays Off
  • 25:45 – Twelve Month Approach to Growth Mindset
  • 34:40 – Identifying Growth and Fixed Mindsets in Early Childhood
  • 38:47 – How to Praise the Process
  • 45:23 – Shame and Vulnerability
  • 01:00:12 – Results of Growth Mindset

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post. Also, please leave an honest review for the Punk Rock Preschool Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful and greatly appreciated and I will read all of them!  If you have any questions or want to learn more, head on over to! And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *