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The Personal and Professional Skills module is based on skills we have already learned and ones that we can develop in the future. The module has encouraged me to explore and reflect on my own skills and attributes and understand the skills and attributes needed to work in early years setting.

There are many aspects of learning that I have gained in the personal and professional skills module. But one aspect I find most interesting is mindsets. Towards learning everyone has two mindsets: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset tend to have concerns over how they will be judged by others. People with a growth mindset tend to relish and learn from being judged by others. Carol Dweck states that a fixed mindset is the belief that your intelligence, talents, and other abilities are set in stone. You believe that you’re born with a particular set of skills and that you can’t change them. If you have a fixed mindset, you will likely fear that you may not be smart or talented enough to achieve your goals. You may hold yourself back by engaging only in activities that you know you can do well. Dweck and her colleagues examined the brains of people with different mindsets. The brains of those with a fixed mindset showed higher activity when they were told that their answers to a series of questions were right or wrong – they were keenly interested to know whether they had succeeded or failed. But they showed no interest when researchers offered them help to learn from their mistakes. They didn’t believe they could improve, so they didn’t try. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that with effort, perseverance, and drive you can develop your natural qualities. You also believe that you can overcome obstacles. You choose to learn from the experience, work harder, and try again until you reach your goals. In her research, Dweck built on the theory of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to continue to form new connections into adulthood, after it has been damaged or when it is stimulated by new experiences. This supports the idea that you can adopt a growth mindset at any time in life. A growth mindset can help you to realize your own potential through learning and practice.

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In the past, I had a fixed mindset toward learning because I always believed that if I wasn’t good at something I can’t do it. For example, in school, I did not try enough in my exams as I believed I wasn’t intelligent enough to get good grades as I always looked at my peers who were ‘naturally’ clever. However, my peers, who were ‘naturally’ clever, were revising to get where they were, and I was not. If I had a growth mindset, I could have improved my skills with effort and practice, such as asking for help, revising, and actually trying to understand. I would always tell myself I was not good at something, but this belief was an easy excuse to avoid tasks. The fixed mindset I had prevented me from developing new skills, learning, and growing. Whereas my peers with a growth mindset were willing to try even with failure as they believe that it helped develop new skills.

While studying for my A-levels I had a fixed mindset at the beginning as I thought my course was hard and felt overwhelmed. My coursework grades were bad and I wanted to change. I started to put in effort which led to the beginning of a growth mindset, as I really wanted to go to university and achieve big things. While at university I feel that it is important to follow Dweck’s steps to switch to a new way of thinking. These steps are: listen to yourself, recognize that you have a choice, challenge your fixed mindset, and take action. After learning about Dweck’s mindsets, I believe that having a growth mindset is the best approach for my professional development. Children are constantly learning and their mindsets are growing. By having a growth mindset, I will increase the child’s ability to experiment and attempt different challenges they may not have tried before. Dweck says that offering praise when someone does well reinforces a fixed mindset, while praising their effort encourages growth. When you focus on an individual’s results, they learn that trying doesn’t matter. But praising their efforts rewards their process of learning, so they become more motivated to keep striving toward their goals. This is important when working with children because they need to be praised correctly, such as by highlighting the effort they made or the strategy used. Also telling children that it is okay to make mistakes Is important for their growth mindset. If I have a fixed mindset while working with children, I could potentially be stopping their growth.

In conclusion, after discovering my typical fixed mindset through this course, I believe that a growth mindset is what will help me achieve my goals while at university and as an early-year professional. Having a growth mindset while learning will help me feel comfortable taking risks, increase motivation, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase productivity. Dweck states that you can develop a growth mindset at any age, so when working as an early-year professional and during my studies, it is important to consistently enlarge and nurture my skills to help me reach my full potential.

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