January 18, 2016 Issue 19 Volume 4
Barbara Blackburn Rigor & Grit
Two Ways to Encourage Grit
A popular topic in educational conversations today is grit. Grit is perseverance; the decision (and ability) to keep moving forward rather than giving up. Many students have grit, just not related to academics. When we are teaching grit, students may experience some frustration. That is normal; in fact, if they aren't experiencing frustration, then they do not have the opportunity to use grit.
Students who demonstrate grit are more confident, and ultimately, learn at higher levels. Therefore, it is important for us to teach and reinforce this skill. How can we do that? There are two basic steps: create a climate that encourages grit and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate grit.
First, create a climate encourages grit. This means showcasing examples of grit. For example, today, I would share the story of Steve Jobs, who most students know as the creator of the IPhone. But they typically don't know that he was fired from Apple before he created the IPhone. Another example is J.K. Rowling, who was rejected by many publishers before someone accepted Harry Potter for publication.
Next, provide opportunities for students to experience grit. You must be careful here, as many students will give up if the assignment is totally over their head. What you want to do is create an assignment in which students will need to struggle and demonstrate perseverance to be successful. You'll need to model the process for students, and encourage and support them as they struggle. But in the long run, struggling and ultimately being successful helps students develop grit.