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By Ashoke Menon, Founder of Ignite for Schools

In the work we do in supporting schools in their effort to enhance or change their culture, we are deliberately framing our work as creating an Achievement Culture. Not just a positive culture or a culture where we all get along or even a culture of excellence (because everyone has their own definition of excellence). But an Achievement Culture or even an achievement mindset– as we define it, is a mindset where achievement or growth is at the roots—-achievement is a mindset; achievement can be a habit; no matter what we do, when we do it, no matter how small or big–we want to achieve, we want to grow, because we feel good when we do!

Achievement as defined by Webster—–  ‘a result gained by effort’


  • Getting the project done on time was a real achievement.
  • For him to graduate from High School was a great achievement as he was the first one in his family.
  • Attempting to try out for a sport is sometimes a great achievment
  • Learning to take and handle ‘defeat’ or ‘disappointment’-continues to be a great achievement

Knowing how you define it, understanding what it takes ‘to achieve’ in your classroom is the first step. This will  allow your students to then achieve. It is amazing what the perceptions are on achievement  and why young people may be unintentionally shying away from it.

An activity to start creating a mindset of achievement in your classroom

Start  by asking questions like—‘Why achieve? How does you feel when you have achieved something?’

Self Study/Reflection: ‘When was the last time you felt that you achieved something? Felt good about yourself no matter how small it seemed. Write down what it was, how you felt, who was involved, who did you share it with?’

Have them write first then share with a partner or their table.

Examples: getting on a team after tryouts; setting a goal for myself in itself might be an accomplishment; getting an A; turning homework in on time, taking care of  my younger sibling—-help them build their inventory of achievements.

My sense of achievement depends on the kind of effort I need to put into it to get that result and then maybe even the obstacles I need to overcome to get that result.

Here’s the distinction–while there are standards based results to meet—your students’ sense of achievement needs to be based on the EFFORT they put into reaching even a small goal.

The feeling associated with ‘achievement’ needs to be connected to the effort one is putting in. While they may not be meeting standards at first, they need to feel a sense of achievement based on the effort they are putting in. This  ‘feeling’ of achievement is critical to accomplishing larger goals.

Flickr User Jaume Escofet