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The #1 Way to Create Better Connections and Develop a Growth Mindset in Teachers and School Counselors

By March 25, 2016Blog

We all want to create better connections with students and develop grit and a growth mindset in your teachers and school counselors. Let’s begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey inspires us all.

What did you accomplish? I accomplished, Connection. Learn[ing] about the students and the different way of thinking.

Am I better off? Yes. Why? “I was able to make a better connection with my students.”

~ Jessica, Teacher and Juvenile Justice & Truancy Counselor

Isn’t that what we all want? Educators, school counselors, mentors and caring adults learning about students and the different way of thinking, not just anyway, but a growth mindset way of thinking. If you are skeptical, below you will see the hand writing and full completed survey from my growth mindset workshop. The growth mindset workshop was with  a school counselor and students in her Juvenile Justice and Truancy program – with what can be called unfair life challenges.  Good news is, after completing the relevant and rigorous self-discovery activities in 7 Steps for EMPOWERING YOUTH: Self-Awareness Developing GRIT and a Growth Mindset, they have a better student-teacher relationship. They are all now more self-aware, learning how to develop grit and their growth mindsets to overcome obstacles in school and life.

The BIG question on everybody’s mind seems to be how do we develop a Growth Mindset in our teachers, mentors and caring adults? So that we all can create better connections and cultivate positive relations that inspire and develop a Growth Mindset in our students?

First, I have to thank Tony Sinanis of Leading Motivated Learners for the inspiration to write this post after seeing his blog on Grit and a Growth Mindset. Tony is a Lead Learner at Cantiague Elementary- 2012 National Blue Ribbon School; 2013 Bammy Award for Elementary School Principal of the Year and 2014 New York State Elementary School Principal of the Year. Congratulations Tony, and thank you for the inspiration. how to create better connections with students and develop a growth mindset in teachers, counselors and parents by Jim Cantoni Realizing Dreams

The BIG Answer is, “Learn-By-Doing and Side-By-Side.”

In looking at education from a outside lens, over the last three years I have found that when educators complete the student-centered activities in 7 Steps for EMPOWERING YOUTH: Self-Awareness Developing GRIT and a Growth Mindset, side-by-side and learn-by-doing with students, their mindsets are more open to change. The reason? It’s all about sparking Aha! Moments and changing fixed mindsets, even for the educators – teachers, schools counselors, parents, mentors and caring adults too.

Good to Great – Changing fixed mindsets – “I’ve always done it this way”

The outcomes from workshops that I have facilitated with just teachers, school counselors, school board members and mentors are good, however based on experience, when these caring adults are completing the activities for the first time and  students not only discovering their passion and dreaming BIG dreams, but creating plans to realize their BIG dreams, are greater and that’s the most powerful!  The “now I see how to do it” light bulb comes on brighter when everybody sees the results-based outcomes of what Pre-k to college students are accomplishing – quite often in minutes, not months. Here are  a few of the outcomes and relevant learning examples with high-impact student activities (yes, even Pre-k to college)  using my book called, 7 Steps for EMPOWERING YOUTH: Self-Awareness Developing GRIT and a Growth Mindset:


  1. A high school student and teenage girl went from 51 to 91 in English after one week – from failing ALL her classes to now passing all her classes
  2. A 9 year old boy in one of the least performing school districts is creating plans to be President of the United States when he is 37 years old
  3. A 10 year old and 5th grade girl identified, set and learned how to achieve her GETTING SMARTR™ Goals to be Olympic Figure Skating Champions by the year 2022. Remarkably, she has created a plan to learn how to overcome her fear of a double/triple axel
  4. A 4 year old boy is not only learning about trust and teamwork at 4, but actually writing about it
  5. A 9 year old inner city girl in one of the lowest performing school districts created her life action plan to graduate high school and help the homeless by 2017, go to college and open her own restaurant by the year 2025
  6. A college freshman created BIG plans to own 64 hotels by the time he is 35. NOW, for the first time he wrote down his GETTING SMARTR™ Goals and clearly sees how he will achieve this.
  7. Many, many middle, high school and college students who were previously “undecided”, discovered their passion in life created their life action plans, and now clearly see their paths to successful futures

So completing the actual activities together, side-by-side is what I have found the #1 way how to create better connections for positive relationships with your students and develop a Growth Mindset in Teachers, School Counselors, Parents and Caring Adults. After all, isn’t life more fun when we are realizing dreams in teams? This relevant learning gets educators, parents and mentors to reflect on their teaching strategies and inspires self-awareness, GRIT and a growth mindset in the caring adults in a very meaningful and powerful way that influences their attitudes and changes “I’ve always done it this way” behaviors.

As author and founder of Realizing Dreams, I welcome your thoughts on the outcomes from my self-discovery book and life action journal, 7 Steps for EMPOWERING YOUTH: Self-Awareness Developing GRIT and a Growth Mindset.  Email me or just give me a call at 1-860-657-0770.

Yours in empowering schools, families and communities,

Jim Cantoni

Realizing Dreams

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