Growth Mindset YouTube Challenge

Name: Micah Finkelman, Colin Murfree

Organization: City Squash (Bronx Middle School)

Date: June 27, 2018

SEL Competency: Growth Mindset

Driver of Focus: Goal Oriented & Mastery Based Experiences

Cohort Demographics: 6th Grade


City Squash staff noticed a lack of confidence and a disinterest in improvement, both academically and on the squash courts in our high school team members. In order to combat that apathy, we built a plan to work with students in their first year of middle school to build Growth Mindset, utilizing their favorite medium: YouTube. Students displayed an increase in understanding of Growth Mindset, and a large amount of students displayed mastery of their skills!



  • 6 weeks, 2 sessions per week
  • Session: 1 hour and 15 minutes


All lessons were taught in a classroom with 1 teacher and 8 students present at a time.


Over 7 weeks, students were tasked with choosing and learning a previously unknown skill from a list of possible choices by teaching themselves via YouTube. After choosing the task, time was spent mapping out their in and out of class schedules and deadlines, and developing a firm grasp of the skill and breaking it up into all its parts.  In the final week, they performed their skill for an audience of peers and staff. Over 7 weeks, staff explicitly taught growth mindset using ClassDojo’s video series.


This activity allowed students to explore a passion that they might not have otherwise given a second thought. Ideally it would prove to the children that with a bit of effort and self-discipline, they can learn any new skill they want to.


Based on Network-Wide SEL Survey Analysis, City Squash’s Bronx Middle School cohort was identified by Research Alliance for NYC Schools as one of 18 Bright Spots; meaning they had a greater positive effect on youth SEL compared to sites that serve similar students across the Network. The chart shows the change in the percentage of youth responding positively to Survey questions related to Growth Mindset. In addition, based on our final exit ticket and reflection each student demonstrated an increased understanding of growth mindset and more than 75% of the class demonstrated mastery of the topic.


  • Know your audience; pick projects students enjoy, but that are manageable over 7 weeks. For example: One of our projects was to learn how to juggle.  It was significantly harder and required far more practice than our other projects. Luckily, only one student chose that project. He did not master juggling, though he was convinced that given more time he could. This is important because if you have multiple failures during final presentations risk of reinforcing a fixed mindset.  
  • Both explicit instruction in Growth Mindset vocabulary/language (through Class Dojo videos and discussions) and applying Growth Mindset to learning a new skill and demonstrating the skill are important. Either alone is not as powerful as both together.
  • Have informal check-ins with students to check on their progress, challenges, and mindsets. Adult partners can provide resources and encouragement.
  • Growth Mindset is very transferable to individual sport like squash. Link to growth in squash “ladder” (ranking) or skill.

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Find a printable version of this practice here. If you have questions or thoughts about this practice, comment below.

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Stefano Barros

Stefano believes that one of the best ways to develop young leaders is through community building in youth-centered spaces. This is the driving force behind his focus on strengthening SSN’s reservoir of resources through collaborative learning and research. Stefano joined the team after holding college access and youth leadership development roles in Boston and New York City.

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