How do you get kids engaged?

Encouraging kids to be engaged in learning

You’ve got one kid in your class who is knocking it out of the park…

  • they are on top of their assignments
  • they are engaged
  • they ask questions and are genuinely interested in learning

You’ve got another who is failing…

  • they are always behind the eight ball
  • they are disengaged
  • they are disinterested

What is the difference?  Intelligence?  Talent?  Ability?

Those factors may be a part of the picture, but its also very possible they are not the root of the problem.  I bet the deciding factor is: hustle.

What is hustle?  Tim Elmore in a recent post defines it like this:

Energy + Effort + Urgency = Hustle

Angela Duckworth in her book Grit identifies a similar standard for the high achiever: grit. Students with grit put forth more effort and exhibit more drive, even when they experience failure.  In fact, they re-frame failure as an opportunity to learn and approach the task with even more energy and effort.  They set goals and push themselves to accomplish them, even when it may appear that they have less talent or ability than someone else.

So how do we as educators and parents encourage hustle?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Focus on the experience of learning more than the experience of success— Help children understand that success is a process not an event.
  • Focus on effort more than talent or ability–Help children understand that energy and effort trumps ability or talent.
  • Focus on persistence and endurance–Help children understand that sticking with a task is more important than giving up especially when the outcome is uncertain.
  • Focus on serving others more than personal accomplishment–Help children understand how their efforts benefit others (their team, their family, their friends or their community) as well as themselves.
  • Notice how all these tips also apply to you as you teach? Educators today are faced with many challenges. Make sure you reward yourself for encouraging the experience of learning, for effort, persistence, endurance and serving others rather than the perfect successful completion of a lesson plan:)

There are lots of ways to teach grit or hustle but one effective and engaging way is to use the examples and lives of well known individuals who have overcome failure, lack of resources and even personal handicaps to succeed.  Here are some great books to use:

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream  by Deloris Jordan

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmeah

Harvesting Hope The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull

Odd Boy Out by Don Brown

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkin

Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Mindset

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others?

puppet and book
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Mindset (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 Lesson Plan to teach growth mindset and grit with Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Mindset

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