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Welcome back, Kristin Bowers! You may remember her from such past episodes as Data Collection (, but today we’re digging into something a little less empirical: Growth Mindset.

But first, a question for you:

Would you consider yourself a “math person” or a “creative person”? 🤔

We all know the (stereo)type I’m talking about when I use those air quotes — I’m sure you can name the “math person”in your group of colleagues, or the “creative one” from your group of friends. And, maybe they’d be the first folks you’d ask for help with your taxes, or if you wanted a handmade birthday card for your grandma.

While helpful in those circumstances, “typing” like that also has its limits. And, according to the theory of growth mindset, there’s no such thing as a “math person” — some of us just might have to work a little harder at math, to achieve success.

“Hmmm, that sounds like it’ll take more work.”

I mean, yeah, it will!

But, if you shift the way you think about that work, and understand that there’s nothing — no skill, no trade, no craft, no subject — that you can’t learn… holy crow – that’s so empowering!

(Sidebar: Have you ever heard of The Artist’s Way? It’s a classic book, that coaches you through daily sketching and journaling for 12 weeks, to uncover your own creativity! Practice makes… possibility!)

If we can instill in our kiddos the belief that they are capable, and there’s nothing they can’t learn, they’ll feel safer and more confident in challenging themselves, making mistakes, and moving on in the right direction.

So if you’re ready to make that (very powerful!) shift in thinking, this is the episode for you! Kristin’s got a ton of great, practical tips for SLPs on how we can incorporate growth mindset into our therapy practice, and our professional development.

Grab your beverage of choice (I’ll have a chai latte!), put your feet up, and listen in.

Key Takeaways + Topics Covered

– “Grit” (the ability to stick to something through adversity) might matter more than intelligence or education.
– Many of the kids we’re working with in therapy settings are already facing adversity – that’s why you’re working with them! – so we can take the opportunity to teach them on how they learn and grow, as well
– This theory applies to “gifted” kids as well. They may be high achievers in mainstream school subjects, so they can struggle in hearing feedback or coaching in SLP settings.
– There’s a sweet spot between practicing something they consistently can’t do and something they consistently CAN do.
– Power of Yet
– The greatest chance of success is when we can ALL incorporate growth mindset – SLPs, teachers, parents, students!

Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Grit by Angela Duckworth
The Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck
The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve by Annie Brock & Heather Hundley
Pygmalion Effect – Rosenthal & Jacobson
Range by David Epstein
Growth Mindset tools on Kristin’s Teachers Pay Teachers store
Kristin’s freebie poster

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Thanks so much!


Marisha: Hi there and welcome to the SLP Now Podcast. I am extremely honored and excited to have Kristin Bowers back on the podcast today. And if you're not familiar with her, she is an ASHA-Certified Speech Language Pathologist who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, with her B.A. in Communication Science and Disorders and then in 2010, with her master's in Speech Language Pathology.
She has experience in early intervention as well as private practice and she currently works in the school setting servicing children from kindergarten through fifth grade. She's also the owner of Kiwi Speech, and she creates amazing and absolutely beautiful therapy materials for speech and language services. Most of which are available on Teachers Pay Teachers and I brought her on the podcast today because she is passionate about finding effective ways to have kids practice their sounds, and also supporting other skills like problem solving and growth mindset. And I've been getting a lot of questions about growth mindset, and I think this is something that I've been able to incorporate into my therapy. But I'm super excited to learn even more about it from Kristin today.

Kristin: Hi, how are you?

Marisha: Awesome. So, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. I am really excited to learn from you, and I'm curious, how did you first start learning about growth mindset?

Kristin: I'm a pretty avid reader, and I usually try to read in addition to one fiction book. I'm usually reading a nonfiction book, and I think one of the first times I really came across growth mindset was in the book Grit by Angela Duckworth and although she doesn't directly talk about growth mindset, she talks a lot about grit and how successful people one, may not be more intelligent than the other or more successful people rather and almost no matter how you're going to measure that success, it's not that they're necessarily more intelligent, it's that they have this thing called grit, which she, excuse me, what she sort of defines is this ability to stick through something, stick to something over a longer period of time or to stick with something when it gets hard and that's really closely related to growth mindset.
And then I think the term growth mindset is coming up just so much more in the educational world. Just as philosophies on education change over time, it's just something I started really seeing in the general education world and I really loved that book, Grit, and so just seeing how they fit together and how they could really apply to some of our students, as much as or almost more than just your average kid, right?
So some of our kids are coming to us for the sole purpose of something is hard for them, right? That's why they're in speech. So having an approach to that not just targets their sound or the vocabulary they're using, but also just the way they think about learning in their ability to improve was really important. So I think they just kind of really settled with me, and it was just something I gave a lot of thought to, and started really kind of developing ways to support my students not just in their speech and language skills, but also just the way they thought about learning and their ability to grow.

Marisha: Yeah, I couldn't agree more, and I feel like I had a similar experience around that as well. It just started with a different book for me. I read The Growth Mindset book, I believe it was Carol Dweck.

Kristin: Yeah, exactly.

Marisha: But it really resonated with me because a lot of the students on my caseload, they had obviously multiple disabilities, and they were being seen by resource room, or other special education services, and they were really struggling in the classroom. And I just noticed that some of my students just kept persevering. They kept working towards it, even though I knew it was so incredibly hard for them. Whereas other students, especially as they got older, more and more of them started to shut down, and so I really wanted a way to continue supporting them and making sure that they, just trying to prevent that shut down.
But Kristin, you and I have talked about this before, because you see a slightly different caseload.

Kristin: Yeah, it's funny. I think I know what you're getting at, and I was just going to add that. So yeah, I mean, I think in the nature of our role, we have a lot of kids who really struggle, maybe globally with lots of stuff. But I also have found this to be so applicable to the other end of the spectrum, which is some of the kids I see are actually in gifted programs. And I have a pretty large portion of my caseload that are really high achievers in many areas, and in some ways, I find that they are the ideal candidate for this growth mindset approach, and that's because they're good at everything they do, or they always have been, right?
They're perhaps really good at math, and they were early readers and they just in general have experience in school thus far being really successful with everything and then all of a sudden, they're not that great at speech, right? It maybe for some of the kids I see. I think speech may be the first thing that they've ever come across that has been difficult for them, and they don't know how to look around a classroom and see themselves as maybe the one person struggling. They're used to being successful and they're used to seeing themselves in that light, and I find that sometimes those kids are the ones that struggle the most to hear feedback and speech, right?
They don't like being told that they're not doing something right. Sometimes they're the ones that I say, oh, I heard you say, sue, can you fix that and say, shoe, and they'll say, that's what I said the first time. They kind of sometimes they argue with me a little bit, and I think they just are really having a hard time accepting or knowing what to do with this newfound knowledge that they have something that's a little tricky for them. So yeah, I mean, definitely the kids who have a lot going on, can benefit from this. But I think it's also too important to remember that some of these highly intelligent kids that are successful in other areas can really benefit from it just as much, if not more.
So yeah, I think, it's helpful for everyone, and I've also seen it be really helpful for some of my kids that struggle with a little anxiety. I don't know if you have kids, they're really afraid of making mistakes, and they often won't try, they won't push themselves because they're afraid of that and it's been really helpful for some of those kids who may also be seeing a school counselor for some anxiety issues or kind of perfectionism sort of tendencies, so yeah.

Marisha: Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, I think that's just a good like a nice little summary that it can benefit of a wide range of students, if not all students, because we're all going to be, or they all will face adversity throughout their academic careers, and then I think it's helpful for us too. Especially given recent circumstances, we all get to implement some growth mindset but we'll definitely talk about that a little bit more further into the interview. But I'm curious, can you just give us a breakdown of what growth mindset is?

Kristin: Yeah, of course. So, growth mindset is typically talked about sort of in this dichotomy between a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset, for example. So in a growth mindset, we know that we are capable of change and we're capable of growing. So this can be, I think, when it comes to speech, we talk about it a lot in relation to specific skills. But it can also be things that you might consider personality traits. So someone with a strong growth mindset knows that with work, they can become maybe a different type of person.
Someone with a growth mindset likes a challenge, right? They like to see what they are capable of doing, and they don't really get stuck in this. Well, I'm not a math person, right? That's not something you would hear from someone with a growth mindset or you would hear things like well, if I work at this, I can learn this new skill. So yeah, they have a really strong sense of effort, being a way to change something about yourself and they know that putting an effort and putting in work, that those things are possible.
In contrast, as someone with a fixed mindset, might be more likely to say, oh, I'm not a math person. I'll never be good at that. Just if you could do that for me, that would be great or getting a little bit more frustrated or bogged down in the mistakes. Those things are really negative to someone with a fixed mindset whereas someone with a growth mindset knows that, we only make mistakes when we're challenging ourselves, and we challenge ourselves as a way to learn new things. So mistakes are a good thing, right? It means we're at that level where we're learning, and I think that point of the growth mindset in particular is just so relevant to speech therapy, and what we're doing in our role in that.
So yeah, so a growth mindset is the belief that we can grow and we can change if we put in effort and work, to put really simply.

Marisha: That is perfect, and I love what you said about mistakes helping us grow because if we have a fixed mindset, and our belief is that, I am a math person, but if we for some reason fail some tests, then suddenly that belief is just shattered. But if we have that growth mindset of I'm capable of change, of growing. So like, yeah, I think I like math and just those challenges that come up don't break us quite as much as they would if that was our identity, and it's just evidence for against that.

Kristin: Absolutely. I think that's the trait I see a lot in some of my gifted students, right? Is they hold their identity so strongly in being the best or being the brightest. And yeah, when that one thing that comes along, that kind of breaks that, they really struggle, and they do, they can take it really personally. I don't want to generalize, obviously, but yeah, I see some students take it really personally when they're corrected, right? Or when they make a mistake, and yeah, having a growth mindset or starting to nurture our growth mindset in them is sort of a way to help that.

Marisha: Yeah, and I think we started talking about this a little bit already. But why do you think it's important, and why did you spend so much time learning about it and creating resources? Yeah.

Kristin: Yeah, I don't know, I think for me, it was just really applicable to my caseload. I think it's also really applicable as a parent, you think about the things that we say as parents and maybe the things we don't. And I have a daughter who has very, she has many strengths, obviously, but she really struggles with her speech, and I think my biggest concern for her is more when we thought about kindergarten, right? She's a June birthday. So she was kind of in that age where we thought, she's going to kindergarten, right? Or should we keep her back and we had this conversation, but my biggest concern was less the academics and more of the confidence, right?
I was really concerned that she would go to kindergarten and she would get kind of beaten down with the things that she couldn't do or maybe her lack of ability to communicate effectively, and I was really worried about her confidence and at the end of day, that's all a growth mindset issue, right? That's not an academic thing, that's not going to come from me drilling her with her sight words. That's all about just nurturing an approach to learning, and just yeah, I think as a parent, it became really relevant to me. And again, it was applicable to just so many of my students.
I thought, man, if they just had a more open approach to learning or they were more willing to make mistakes, I knew we could make more progress.

Marisha: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And then for me, it was interesting too, because I kind of talked about this already, but I was seeing a lot of students who were struggling globally. Every part of school was hard for them and their peers and sometimes even teachers were placing fixed mindset beliefs on them. Like you're not smart, you're not good enough, you're slow, you're I don't know, all of these different things, whether it was said explicitly or more implied. So that's what got me super interested in figuring it out because I saw what happens over time as the students get older, they just shut down more and more. And of course, that's not always the case but after I learned about this, I thought it could be a really cool way to give these students some extra skills to kind of combat that a little bit and to celebrate their mistakes and celebrate the effort because they likely put in more effort than anyone in the class-

Kristin: Absolutely.

Marisha: ... Even if they don't get the same results but, yeah, it was really cool to see how that could impact students.

Kristin: I agree and I think you mentioned something else too, is kind of it's not just about the single child you're working with, but also kind of the system around them, whether it's the teachers or the students, but even when it comes to, whoa, why do they go to speech? Sometimes you've got that question, and I think sometimes equipping the students with an answer to that, why do you come to speech? Well, some people might need a little bit of help with reading, some people might need a little bit of help with this, and you need a little bit of help with speech. It's not a bad thing.
We all have these things we may have to work a little bit harder at but that's not a problem. We've got this. Equipping them and just again, using it in your language with the other people you're around, the other students. They get to come to see me to work on something extra, how great is that, right? They have this opportunity to work extra hard at something and phrasing that as a positive, not a negative.

Marisha: Yes, I love that frame, or just how you framed that. That was perfect. So, now let's get to some of the good stuff. So how do you incorporate? Because I think before we, I don't know, this is kind of my approach, but before I incorporate something with my students, especially when it comes to this kind of thing, how do you feel like you're able to incorporate my growth mindset in navigating your own job as an adult or a professional? Do you feel growth mindset plays a role there?

Kristin: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think the more you learn about it, and the more you read about it. So you're right. I mean, circling back to the books we we're talking about. I mean, I think my interest first got piqued by Grit but I've read the mindset book by Carol Dweck, and there's also one called The Growth Mindset Coach, it's by Annie Brock and Heather Handley. But I think the more you learn about it, and the more you sort of learn these phrases and you hear them whether it's words you say out loud, or you hear them in your mind, and you think, man, that's not a good way to look at this and just changing the way you approach.
I mean, we're all going through right now learning teletherapy at a faster rate than we ever thought we would need to, and just being like, okay, you know what? I can do this. For some people, maybe they didn't think they were technology people and are now being forced into this. So just having that open mind about I can learn this. It might take a little bit of work but the more effort, the more time I put into it, I am able to achieve the outcomes I want. For me personally, I have been working a lot on just developing more creativity in myself, and I think that that's something people consider a more fixed personality trait, right?
You're either creative or you're not, more so than maybe learning to read but I just have been trying to get myself the time especially now that we have a little bit more of it, of practicing creativity, and knowing that if I practice creativity, I can become a more creative person. So I know that doesn't directly relate to speech, but just thinking about things in those terms.
I also think the more you adopt a growth mindset, you can kind of use it, looking at yourself, but the way you think about your students and their growth is really important. There was a study by Rosenthal and Jacobson in the 1960s, and forgive me for not having the specific citation. But basically, they told teachers that a specific subset of students in their class was bright and was really likely to succeed, and then when they looked back at those students later, that specific subset of students had increased even their IQ points. And of course, those students originally had been completely randomly assigned.
So the whole point was that the teachers perceptions of the child's quote unquote, their ability, so to speak, impacted the way those students were nurtured by teachers and then impacted their outcomes. So making sure that we are maybe not applying these thoughts like, oh, this student is likely to succeed. Let me make sure that I challenge them and bring that out in them, and on the flip side, oh, the student probably doesn't have the capability to grow. So I'm not really going to challenge them too much.
So yeah, I mean, that's a really applicable, I think, example for us about why it's important to incorporate a growth mindset, not just in looking inwardly, but in how we approach our students and their goals.

Marisha: Yeah, that is so fascinating. I remember seeing that study, and that was just, that's incredible, and so even just the things that we say to our students, it can change their IQ. That's just mind boggling.

Kristin: Right. I mean, right, which is something... I totally agree. My whole family knows now. I hear when they say something to my daughter, she does something, and they're, oh, you're so smart and they know immediately because I don't want to say don't allow that but they know that that's not a phrase I want to hear because that's not really a growth mindset phrase. I'd rather than say, wow, I loved how hard you worked on that or I like that you sat there and worked on that for a long time. That must have been hard, rather than just you're so smart. But they know now. They know they're going to get some side eye from me for phrases like that.

Marisha: Oh, that's amazing. But it'll benefit them too. If you're modeling that.

Kristin: Yeah, exactly.

Marisha: It'll trickle down to your dad or and other people.

Kristin: I have faith that they too can improve their ability to use a growth mindset.

Marisha: I love it. Yeah, and I was thinking about this question a little bit too. I think it's, especially us, whenever we're navigating a lot of change, I think growth mindset really helps kind of decrease the stress because we're expected to make mistakes as we're figuring this out. We're not identifying as like, I'm amazing at tech. I'm going to rock this teletherapy. We just look at it as another hurdle that we're going to overcome. We put on our problem solving pants, and we expect some of those mistakes and look at those as evidence that we're growing, and I think that applies to this situation now as we're moving into a more digital therapy, as we, for new therapists who are just starting out, it feels like an insurmountable, we have so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles when we're first starting.
Like your first IEP, writing it, having that first meeting, the first therapy session, the first new type of client. I feel like we're constantly encountering things, and if we have that growth mindset, it just makes it that much easier to tackle.

Kristin: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, I feel like this is turning into just a list of book reviews.

Marisha: Let's do it.

Kristin: But I'm currently reading a book called Range by David Epstein, and it's about how having kind of skill. So the subtitle of the book is how generalists triumph in a specialized world, and I actually kind of I don't love the subtitle for what the book ends up being about, but it just talks about how having a really varied range of skills and interests can benefit you in the job market, but just in general it talks about someone, not sure she's the absolute CEO or the highest up in the girl scouts. But she basically got there because she was this person who had this very broad range of experience.
It wasn't a person that was on the direct track to that position but I guess it reinforces this idea that right? Trying new things, even if in the beginning, you may fail, or even if they're hard or even if when you start, you're not the best, that being free and feeling open to try new things is a huge aspect of growth mindset, a huge aspect of growth mindset. And as you know, that's a huge aspect of speech, I think but it's talking about it kind of outside of the education world and just having that broad set of skills and interests and things that you've tried really can help you in the long run in many ways.

Marisha: Yeah, and I'm absolutely loving all of the book recommendations too. I haven't read Range...

Kristin: I have a long list of nonfiction book recommendation.

Marisha: Oh, me too. Okay, awesome. So now let's get into the super good stuff about how we can incorporate this with our students and in our therapy sessions, and you have a little bit of a framework that you use in terms of how much you incorporate this, can you give us a little breakdown of what that looks like?

Kristin: Yeah, definitely. So we sort of talked about it, I would say almost the first two ways when we think about applying this to our students, right? A lot of us are like, wait a second, I only have 30 minutes with these kids. How am I going to take time out to work on growth mindset, and I don't think it needs to be quite that concrete.
So first of all, just having a growth mindset yourself, even if you apply this to a specific child, not at all, right? And you just adopt it in your own mindset. I mean, that can be really valuable right there, and it's like we talk about that research or that experiment they did. But when it comes to more a child facing stuff, you can really just change the language you use with students. So this doesn't mean teaching them, oh, let me tell you what a growth mindset is, and I want you to do this and do that. But just the way you deliver therapy, there are ways you can deliver it that are more of growth mindset friendly. So we talked a little bit about being afraid to make mistakes, right?
Maybe I'll circle back to that. So I'll go through these first. So the first one is, yeah, just in the language you were using with your students. So I would consider this pretty passive, right? You're not teaching the students about a growth mindset directly, but you were just using that language, and then the second would be maybe encouraging a little bit more of the language in students. So if you hear them say something like, oh, I can't say my R sound, you might say, oh, you know what? You can't say you're our sound yet. I have a growth mindset bulletin board that I have up in my speech room and it has a whole bunch of different phrases that are specific to speech. So it'll say something like, I know I'm learning my S sound because it feels hard right now, and it's sort of just flipping some of those phrases we often hear on their head and putting them in more of a growth mindset friendly kind of statement. And then the third would be, yeah, taking a few minutes to sit down and directly teach them.
This is what a growth mindset is, this is what a growth mindset sounds like. This is what a fixed mindset is, and this is what a fixed mindset sounds like, and trying to help them monitor themselves for those things and change the way they think about learning. So yeah, you can just use it in your own language, you can sort of more passively encourage your students to use it or then you can directly sit down and teach them what it is.
So I think finding a sweet spot for you and to me, it's very student dependent. I have a few groups that tend to get a little competitive. They're all working on the S sound, but two do lateral and two have frontal lisps but they just tend to go like, oh, I think I did it the best that time or in that group, I've done explicit growth mindset work and I've talked to the teachers about it. It's a struggle they see in their classrooms too with them, kind of maybe arguing with the teachers about what they did or didn't get right and just really not taking to feedback or correction all that well. So, they're ones that I've pulled out growth mindset, actual work for them to do while we're practicing speech, and then others I just try to use it in the way I speak with them.

Marisha: Oh, that's perfect, and then should we dive into some more specific examples for each of the types?

Kristin: Yeah. Here's the thing when we're giving speech, and I'm apologizing in advance for making this very articulation specific, but I always want to have students at this sort of sweet spot, right? And we talked about this a little bit when we talked about data collection, right? I don't necessarily want a child practicing in speech, something they can do 100% of the time, that's not going to help them move to the next level. But on the flip side of that, I don't want them practicing something they can't do at all, and I'm always going to try to scaffold that and give them support.
The by definition, we want those kids making mistakes, and if they're not what we're having them practice is probably too easy. So teaching them that mistakes are fine, and mistakes are okay is a good thing. I sort of joke with them sometimes when they say oh, but this sound is really hard for me, and I say, well, yeah, you know what? Can you say the B sound. Now, first of all, these would be kids that are maybe working on R, T and H, and I'll say, okay, I want you to say these words, ball, bat, whatever, and they're looking at me like okay, ball, bat, and then I give them a big round of applause, and make a great big deal out of it and I say, oh my gosh, you did so wonderful at that. I'm so proud of you and they're just kind of sitting there staring at me because of course, they could say those sounds. They're below where they're working on now, and I sort of say, well, that's the point, right?
You're not here to practice things you already know how to do, you're here to practice something that is hard. That's literally the point of you coming to see me. So no matter what happens, you're always going to come here, and I'm always going to make you do something that's hard for you and once you meet this goal, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to make it harder again, and I think just laying that out to them so they can see that is always going to be hard and that's not a bad thing is really helpful.
I find very few kids come back after that and kind of complain that it's hard because it's literally the point of our job is to find that thing that's hard and to challenge them. So, yeah, first of all starting to frame things that mistakes are not bad. They're the point of coming to speech. We're going to make mistakes, and that's how we know what we have to fix, and then the other major, major thing, I think, is in how we deliver feedback. So in the same way I don't love when my family tells my daughter, you're so smart, right? I'd much rather them say, wow, you worked for a long time on that, or that must have been really hard for you, and that's the positive statement, right? It must have been hard should be the positive statement not that looked really easy, which I think is what we often sort of try to say as praise, right?
Oh, that was so easy for you. You did that so quickly. Good job. But all we're really telling them is that by continuing to show us something they're already good at, that's a good thing and I don't think that that in a growth mindset, that's not necessarily true, right? The good thing you should be finding something you're not good at and working on that. So giving feedback that is more about their action or their process. So instead of saying, wow, that was a perfect R sound, you might say, wow, I really saw how you bunched that tongue up. That was a great work or the other thing, this is I've seen this a few times in the general education is talking about a good mistake, a great mistake.
Jillian Starr talks about how she takes a group of student maybe math problems that they did and she pulls out one that's wrong, and she praises that as a great mistake and they talk about okay, so yeah, the final answer wasn't right but let's talk about all the things the students showed us they knew. So maybe they added, one plus one is three, just as a really simple example, and they'll say, oh, well, they knew to add, not subtract. So that was some knowledge that that student was showing. So she talks about her favorite mistake or her great mistake, and I do something similar in speech.
When you have a child who's gliding R for example, right? And they're saying wabbit for rabbit I often find that somewhere in the middle of shaping that to the R, it ends up being this really distorted L sound, right? If you're doing maybe retroflex. So they don't say wabbit and they don't say rabbit. It sounds something more labbit, and often they hear that L, and they go, oh, sorry. That was an L sound, and I say, oh my gosh, no, that was such an awesome mistake. It showed me that you were moving your tongue. It showed me that you got your tongue up. That was awesome. So to me, I mean, that is a good mistake, right? It wasn't a W, it's a step in the right direction, and the fact that they made an L shows me that they're learning so much.
So praising that mistake is another really growth mindset way to approach their learning and the scaffolding we do to get them from point A to point B.

Marisha: Yeah, I love those specific examples, and yeah, so just to recap. We want to set up our session so that we are giving students that, they're not perfect all the time, they're not always at 100% but that we're also not making it so hard that they can't even tackle it. Teaching them that mistakes are hard. No, that mistakes are okay and even celebrating them. This was a couple podcast episodes ago, but I actually interviewed a special education teacher on mindfulness and growth mindset kind of came up there and she says that she uses glitter washi tape to celebrate her students if they're doing writing or whatever, they'll put the glitter washi tape over a mistake and I thought that was a really cool visual.

Kristin: Oh I love that. It's such a sweet idea.

Marisha: And it's a little harder to do that with articulation but maybe we could just have it on a piece of paper or something. And yeah, and then I love your suggestions on thinking about how we deliver feedback and really focusing on the actions instead of the traits or qualities, like you're smart and things like that or you're good at this and all of that and focusing on them working hard. Awesome.

Kristin: And then the last thing I'm able to add is, is just yeah, making sure that you've set your sessions up as a really safe space to make mistakes, obviously, but also to look silly. You know how often we look ridiculous. I mean, we know as SLPs we look ridiculous sometimes when we're showing them how to make these sounds, right? Or I have a particular student right now who's working so hard on that R sound and it's hard to watch him, right? Because he's contorting his face so, so much to get this R and just making sure that comments, I mean, obvious things like laughing at people is never okay, but making sure that that is absolutely never okay, and being afraid to kind of laugh at yourself and look silly and make mistakes and if that includes you kind of doing these things too then so be it.
But it absolutely has to be a safe space for them to make mistakes and be wrong and to fail. I mean, that's the only way it can work. And again, by the nature of what we do, kids are going to fail from time to time in our room. I mean, they wouldn't be there if they were doing everything perfectly. So yeah, it's essential to make sure that your sessions are a safe space with you and with all the other students.

Marisha: Perfect, and then what about, what does it look like when you're doing that direct teaching? Do you have a hierarchy of activities that you go through? Or how do you set that up for students?

Kristin: Yeah, so I actually, I have sort of over time I've sort of developed a bit of a curriculum for it which is in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and it's just a culmination of all the different aspects of the growth mindset that I learned about through all that reading that I felt were really applicable to speech. So each sort of lesson has something I would teach the students and again, depending on how much time you want to spend with the kids, you can pick and choose how you're doing it. So typically I say, hey, I want to talk about whatever the lesson so to speak is today. And in the beginning that might be, I want to talk about what a growth mindset is, but then later we might talk about things like neuroplasticity, and of course, I don't necessarily call it neuroplasticity, but I talk to them about how our brains can grow, and the more we practice something, the more connections our brain makes, and the quicker we can do it. And we use lots of examples of things that they've learned and got better at in other aspects like maybe music lessons.
So typically there's, I talked to them about it in this particular curriculum, there's almost like note taking pages that are scaled for their ages. So there's like a smaller one that's pretty much like a coloring page that has the main keywords that we talked about, and then there's a slightly older one. And then I have an activity that we do in speech. And again, I don't do this with all of my groups, they don't all need this really specific direct instruction but some do, and then there's also a homework activity to send home. Because of course, if they're not getting a growth mindset message at home then it's the same with our speech practice, it can be a little lost so that the homework is interesting, I sort of tried to design it that yes, the child is practicing it, but I also wanted to make it very educational for the parents.
So there's kind of an intro sentence on each one that might kind of summarize what we talked about. Hint, hint, use this language at home is kind of the point. So just as an example, and in the first one, in speech, I have them think about at school, at home, activities and forth in speech, they're going to write down something that feels easy for them in each of those settings and something that feels hard for them in each of those settings. And the point of this is just understand that no matter what, we all have things in any setting that feel easy and things that feel hard, and they're so different by child and then the homework activity is I have a list of R, sorry, a list of speech specific things like using the right words and sentences or speaking all day without my voice getting tired.
Saying the S sound. Understanding what I read and hear. Those kinds of things, and it's like a sorting table, like a T-Chart, feels easy for me or feels hard for me, and the idea is for them to just be honest with themselves and sort those into a chart and see, which of these things are easy and which are hard. I've tried to make a really good mix of articulation, voice, fluency and language to see that they all have kind of strengths and weaknesses, and then of course you're framing this entire thing and it's okay that things feel hard. That's cool. That's interesting, right? Not that's bad.
So that's just kind of an example of how I would do a really introductory lesson in a speech but we also talk about making mistakes, we talk about supporting others, we talk about perseverance and then there's a power of yet which is discussed pretty commonly, which is kind of adding the word, yet, onto a negative statement to change it. So I can't say my R sound yet or I'm not good at math yet which of course just reframes it that with work and effort you can be good at math and you can be good at your R sound, you just haven't got there yet.

Marisha: Oh, you've really thought of everything with the students.

Kristin: It was a long, long process.

Marisha: Yeah, but I love that you have, because I think and this could still be a language activity if the students are working on comprehension or whatever it may be, there could be ways to incorporate their goals into this type of activity potentially.

Kristin: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. In articulation, I mean, you can incorporate articulation into anything. I mean, it's got S blends and that kind of thing. So yeah, I mean, it definitely does not need to be something that is separate from therapy, they can definitely be done at the same time. And I tried to take real care when I created the curriculum to make sure that it was friendly for that.
If you spent your entire 30 minute session doing this, you wouldn't be losing a session if you were smart about it and you used all your good SLP skills which is, right? Making a session out of anything, or you could just spend a few minutes on it, you know?

Marisha: Yeah, and I love all of the different facials that helps break it down for students and just the different interactive activities and then also, the parent piece is huge and I feel like some teachers could use that too.

Kristin: Totally agree. It has, I had written a parent letter in there, and I've thought, oh, I probably need to go back and add a teacher letter as well, yeah.

Marisha: Yeah, and have you ever done because I feel like this is something that could be a nice activity to coordinate with the counselor, potentially, but maybe that would be I got along really well with the counselor at my last school. So we did a bunch of stuff together just because we wanted to, I guess and we had a lot of shared kids. But that could be an option too, if you're not feeling like it's something that is easily incorporated into your session just given the nature of your group. That could be a cool opportunity too.

Kristin: I totally agree. In the setting I'm at, my schools don't all have full time counselors. So I don't have, we're often there on opposing days or whatever. So we don't have that continuity of care so to speak in my settings, but I thousand percent agree that would be a great person to get on your team for implementing this and working with the teachers.

Marisha: Yeah, and have you had conversations with teachers about this too, or do you feel like it's just something that you inaudible?

Kristin: Oh, no, I definitely have and I don't know if it's just the schools I work in, but honestly, I feel like in a lot of situations, I don't know, maybe it's just the schools. I feel a lot of my schools have had, so growth mindset originally came from the book called Mindset by Carol Dweck, which I know you know because you had read it. In a lot of my schools that has been school wide required reading for the teachers. So I think for sure growth mindset is already being implemented in a lot of the schools I work in, which is three currently. And my schools tend to be pretty up-to-date with new philosophies and approaches, and that kind of stuff.
So in a lot of ways, I feel like speeches are behind on this because it's all the stuff you read out there is kind of how it relates to teaching and education but then there's this gap, okay, so I get how it relates to education but how do I incorporate this into speech, right? Because we have such a different service delivery model. We can't obviously be doing lessons in explicitly growth mindset for 30 minutes once a week when that's our only time for speech. So yeah, I actually felt like in my world, at least speech was behind the rest of the curriculum or the schools. It was nice to have a way to catch up and support them.

Marisha: Yeah, and I know there are some schools that incorporate this heavily. So being familiar, it might be that your general education teachers are teaching this to students, and just being aware of it is using all of the different strategies you shared, is a great way to support what they're doing there.

Kristin: Absolutely, absolutely. If you want, I think, if I could recommend one book, I mean, it's hard to not recommend the mindset book by Carol Dweck, because of that's the original one. But The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Handley, that one is geared specifically to teachers. And while it's obvious, it's geared to teachers and not SLPs, it is just very applicable to education and I found that one to be the most maybe meaningful to me as far as implementation was concerned.

Marisha: Okay, awesome, and then I'll link to all of the books that we've been talking about, all of your materials and everything in the show notes at But I'm curious before we start wrapping up, do you have any other examples or things that you wanted to share for the different levels of your framework in terms of changing the language we use, flipping student's language and then direct teaching? Are there any other favorite or must have activities or strategy?

Kristin: I don't think so. Yeah, I mean, and it is that's how I think about it from a standpoint of I had a lot of people ask, well, I get what growth mindset is, but I don't at how to incorporate it into speech. I don't have time for it. So I think that that was how I mentally broke it up. There's so many different levels, you can spend your time directly teaching it or you can just use it passively. You can be using a growth mindset with them without them even knowing it, and then again, it's important to not ignore the fact that even if you're not using a growth mindset with them, if you're not thinking in a growth mindset about them, then that can have really big impacts on them as well.
Yeah, I don't know. I think that's probably, yeah, the simplest way I can think of to break it down about the different levels, the different intensity levels, so to speak, that you can implement it.

Marisha: Yeah, that's perfect, and I think that makes it a lot more doable because I read that book, and then they have one about Mindset in the Classroom too, and there's the whole mind up curriculum, and they have these beautiful things. And it's like, I wish I had all the time to implement this. But you're so bright there are, starting with us and that research study is just, yeah, that's amazing how big of an impact. Just how we think about our students can be. So that's a huge step in the right direction and then just kind of modeling that and incorporating that language into our sessions and giving students a little bit of feedback. That doesn't take much time. So, that those are worth totally doable.

Kristin: No, but you're already giving it but if you're just changing, like I said, I mean with my daughter, it doesn't take me any more time to say, wow, that looked really hard, good job than it does, wow, that looks really easy, good job. Just switching what it is your praising. There was another, I tried to look it up, I believe it was discussed in the Grit book, and I tried to look it up before I came on here and I wasn't going to mention it because I can't cite it. But in this study, they looked at kindergarten students, and I believe it was in California where there was a large Asian American population, and they gave kindergarten students some sort of assessment, and then they randomized which ones they told did a good job on it, and which ones, so they split the classic 50/50.
But what they found is that many more of the Asian American students were likely to say that they succeeded because they worked hard or they were told they didn't do all they were likely to say, well, the people who did well must have worked harder than me. Whereas the non Asian American students were more likely, and this is in kindergarten, they were more likely to say, oh, well, that person did well because they're smarter or I did well, because I was smarter. And so there's obviously, there's a big cultural component to it, too.
I mean, that kind of goes back to the family piece. I mean, what we're saying in school, and it's just the way we support students, and it doesn't have to do with intelligence necessarily. It's just the way we support students and the language we use to support them. Anyway, so I need to find the citation for that, obviously, but I just thought that that was worth mentioning too.

Marisha: Yeah, no, and it's just amazing to see how big of an impact, just like what we say to ourselves can have. Yeah, it's so cool. Okay, so let's do a recap of some of the different resources that have come up throughout the podcast. So you mentioned your curriculum, which includes all of the visuals and different materials, like the parent letters and things that we can use if we're wanting to implement the center therapy session, but I also feel like it would be, if you don't have the time to read a whole book, that would be a good kind of crash course-

Kristin: Oh, absolutely.

Marisha: ... In different strategies that you can use. So if you're like, I'm not going to use the worksheets, but I want to learn more from Kristin, I feel like that could be a good option. And then we also mentioned your posters, which that would take a little bit of time to set up, but we decorate our rooms anyway. So might as well get some growth mindset in there, and then...

Kristin: Exactly, and there is actually I have a freebie. I can shoot you the link to it, but I have a freebie too, which is just one, one page poster, and it's just 10 growth mindset statements as well. So, I wouldn't say it's a bulletin board in itself, but it is just kind of a freebie poster that you could hang up to remind yourself and your students. Again, they're speech specific growth mindset phrases.

Marisha: Ooh, that's perfect. Yeah, we will definitely add that into the show notes as well, and then the books that we mentioned were Grit by Angela Duckworth, and then Mindset by Carol Dweck, Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci, The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Handley, and then Range by David Epstein. And do you have any other resources or tools, anything else that helped you or do you feel like inaudible?

Kristin: No, I think when I know about it now has come from such a conglomeration of sources and nonfiction books and that kind of thing. But I think if you read most, or some of all those you'd be pretty set.

Marisha: Yeah, and is there, because I think you mentioned this but if you had one recommendation, if they could only read one book, which one would you choose?

Kristin: It might be The Growth Mindset Coach.

Marisha: Okay.

Kristin: Yeah.

Marisha: Cool.

Kristin: I think I read that before I read Mindset. I mean, I knew I had to read Mindset. I think I was waiting for it from the library to be honest, and I knew I had to read it, especially because I was developing this curriculum, and I obviously didn't feel comfortable doing that unless I had really done my research in my background work, and as we mentioned, that was pretty much the original book on the topic.
It's from, I don't know, the 80s maybe it's not new. But if you were just looking for really practical tips about implementation, and you just wanted to take away from Growth Mindset, what's applicable to you, as an educator, I think The Growth Mindset Coach would be a great place to start. Plus, you can honestly skip through a little bit of it because a lot of it has specific lesson plans for teachers which is geared toward the general curriculum. So I did gloss over some of that because I just knew it wasn't relevant to how I was going to implement it.

Marisha: Okay, perfect, and did we miss anything or do you feel like we covered all the good stuff?

Kristin: I don't think so. Yeah, I think we covered the good stuff. If we did, I have like all my Instagram. I noticed going into this, I was just reviewing a few things. I had a few things that weren't loaded, but I have a highlight on Instagram, they've got those, the circles where you can see things grouped by topics. They're usually old Instagram stories, but I have a highlight specifically on growth mindset there in my story. So if you are on social media, and that is somewhere where you hang out that might be another light resource for you, just little tidbits as I think of them.

Marisha: Oh, that's perfect, and then where can speech therapists find out more about what you do other than that amazing story highlight?

Kristin: Yeah, so social media wise, I'm on Instagram more than anything else. So that's just @kiwispeech, and then my website where my blog and stuff lives is

Marisha: Okay, perfect. Kristin, thank you so much for sharing your time with us today. This was incredibly helpful, and I hope that SLPs walk away with tons of tips to implement this in their therapy sessions, and the cool thing is, it doesn't have to take a ton of time.

Kristin: Not at all.

Marisha: It's just like maybe just download that poster and have a challenge to use some of those words, or some of those phrases in your session. It could really be just as simple as that.

Kristin: Absolutely, and you're right. I mean, sometimes it is. Just the change of a single word. So I agree.

Marisha: Awesome. Well, thank you again.

Kristin: Thank you for having me.

Marisha: And yeah, we'll see you next time.

Kristin: Bye.




Hi there! I'm Marisha. I am a school-based SLP who is all about working smarter, not harder. I created the SLP Now Membership and love sharing tips and tricks to help you save time so you can focus on what matters most--your students AND yourself.

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