The secret to helping students develop grit


You are barely into the school year and already you have a sense about which students will be successful in your class and which ones will be slackers… don’t you?

Are you usually right?

How do you know?  What are the characteristics of the children who stay the course and succeed?

How are they different from students who give up and fail?

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D and author of the book, Grit;  The Power of Passion Perseverance, left  a high paying management job to teach math to seventh graders in the New York City Public Schools.  She soon found that the students who were successful were not necessarily the students with the highest IQ or the best home environment.  The deciding factor wasn’t luck or talent.  Instead, she found that they were the students who had an inner strength and resolve that others didn’t, often despite other obvious disadvantages. She named that inner strength grit and has spent the last several years researching and measuring that quality.  Here’s what she has found:  “Grit is about a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.”

So how does that relate to the kids in your classroom?  In the long run it relates to why they are there.  The student who understands and commits to their why is invariably the one who has grit.  They care.  They are invested.  They believe that they are moving closer to their goal even when they experience failure and disappointment.  Even when the work is hard. They have a vision for the future and they are committed.

You Can Help Students Develop Grit

So how do you help students develop grit?  Or is it just something that you are born with? No doubt some of it is determined by  temperament and the role models that students have in their lives.  But as significant adults in our students lives we can also help children understand and develop grit.  Here are two ways:

  1. Help students understand and set goals, in every area of their lives.  Academic goals. Relationship goals.  Physical goals.  Here’s the key though; go beyond the usual setting of goals. Teach children how to reach those dream big goals by setting small goals leading to large goals. Then teach them the importance of learning from mistakes and failure.
  2. Be the encourager in your student’s lives.  Everyone needs someone who believes in them and by seeing the future possibilities and sharing that vision with your students you can help them shape their future as well.

    Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

    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? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
    Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)


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