Expectations become reality and it starts young
In the end, the expectations that we put on ourselves are more important than our innate talents or skills. MIddle school kids need to understand this. Here is how I explain it to a class:
Two kids walk into a math class. They have the same skill level at math. The first kid likes to say that they are “bad at math” all the time. The second student expects to succeed in class. When the first difficult homework problem arrives, the first student gives up just after beginning. “I don’t get it” and “I’m just bad at math” They find something else to do, someone to copy the answer from, or staring at a blank page for a while. Obviously, this student doesn’t get far.
The second student gets to the same difficult problem and struggles. They, however, expect to succeed. They give it a second try. If they still don’t get it, they will raise their hand, ask someone else to explain it, look at their resources, watch a video on the topic, and/or ask a parent. The point is that they will keep attacking that problem until they succeed.
The two students have the same skill, just different expectations. After this math class, the student with the higher expectations now has more skill. They also have more practice solving a problem and using their resources. High expectations lead to skilled students, low expectations leave kids behind.
We do not do a good job of having our students evaluate their expectations for themselves.