Teaching kids to be focused
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.
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
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?