Educator Chris Clay is teaching teachers at Katikati Primary School new ways of communicating with their students.

The children are building a small car out of a list of cheap materials - and the teachers are working out the best language to use to support them.

"Every kid will reach a point at some point, where it doesn't work. Every kid isn't coming in with an expertise of using bamboo skewers as axles - it's a unique experience. We are experimenting with what the reaction is when they reach a point of challenge or failure, and what we can do as teachers and parents to work out the next steps with the children."

Rather than praising students for being good at a task - the teachers are encouraged to praise them for persevering when the going gets tough. That stimulates what is known as the growth mindset.

Katikati Primary School principal Andrea Nicholson says they are working with Mr Clay as part of a new challenge week for students and the wider community.

"Throughout the week, the children are involved in a range of challenges in the classroom. They are all aimed at instilling resilience, perseverance and self-confidence."

Mr Clay says his approach is designed to give students the tools they need for the world we live in.

"We know that change will be a real imperative. Whenever we are faced with change we have to be able to have resilience. Ideas like growth mindset and resilience, they will be really important parts of providing an education that is meaningful for our kids. They are timeless, and they'll move beyond any of the other parts of the curriculum, because they're about developing people that can thrive regardless of how the future changes."

Teacher Sarah Trethewey was instrumental in getting Mr Clay to the school. She says teachers are relishing being able to experiment with the conventions of primary teaching.

"I think as teachers, quite often we look at what has been done before to implement in our classrooms, whereas this is definitely a case of not looking at what's been done, instead coming up with ideas to be innovative with growth mindset in the classroom."

Mr Clay says parents can encourage a growth mindset by praising hard work and effort - rather than simply telling their children they are smart.

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