Growing Early Mindsets (GEM)

Elementary Promising Program

Program Description

Growing Early Mindsets (GEM) uses academic integration, teaching practices, and free-standing lessons to promote social and emotional learning for students in grades prek-3. GEM can be taught through multiple implementation options, including a spiral teaching and learning approach. The main focus of the program is to promote, teach, foster and apply neuroscience, a growth mindset, SEL, and mindfulness. The program includes ten children’s books and three teacher guides.  Teacher guide 2 includes nine Learning Labs with five lessons each meant to be delivered for at least 20 minutes. Each learning lab includes an anchor book lesson, deeper learning opportunity, strategies for integrating concepts into learning routines such as morning meetings, and multiple read-aloud lessons. GEM includes a robust educator manual with strategies to nurture teachers’ growth mindsets and to develop and improve pedagogical practices, including suggestions for how to create a growth mindset learning culture. The program also provides materials and tips on engaging families that focus on families as partners. For example, each Learning Lab has a family newsletter to support family engagement with their child’s learning. GEM is designated as Promising because it offers a single curriculum for prek-3 and because the program focuses most effectively on the competencies of self-awareness and self-management.

Training and Implementation Support

The recommended model of professional development for Growing Early Mindsets (GEM) is an on-site virtual or in-person training that lasts 3-4 hours. GEM also offers pre-recorded professional learning that educators can view at their own pace. Professional learning is designed to be experiential. Facilitators establish a learning culture to model and promote a growth mindset for participants, who are encouraged to interact with one another and ask questions. During professional learning, educators familiarize themselves with the framework, including through access to videos that provide opportunities to see GEM in action. They also receive support with implementation planning.

Educators implementing GEM also receive access to GEM Central. This virtual platform provides anchor book videos, implementation videos, the GEM family newsletters (available in Spanish), and a discussion platform for teachers. Once participants have explored the tools they have access to through GEM, they are encouraged to explore how to best use them in their unique contexts. GEM program materials also include self-assessment tools for educators and students. The program provides coaching for individual teachers for an additional fee. Coaching centers on personal and leadership development, helping educators to define and reach goals they set themselves.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from a quasi-experimental (QE) evaluation conducted over 3 academic years (2013-2014, 2014-2015, and 2015-2016) supported the effectiveness of Growing Early Mindsets for early elementary school students. This evaluation included 554 K- 3rd grade students (of the students enrolled in the participating districts between 79-84% were White and between 43-58% were eligible for FRPL). This evaluation found that students participating in the Growing Early Mindsets program showed significantly greater growth in teacher-reported classroom self-regulation compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported approximately 18 weeks after baseline, while controlling for outcome pretest).


Coates, K., Fredericks, A., & Roberts, S. (2020). Growing Early Mindsets (GEM): A Preliminary Test of Impacts Shows Promise for GEN to Increase K-3 Students Approaches to Learning and Social and Emotional Development. Unpublished Manuscript.