Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Angela Lee Duckworth’s TedTalk, The Key to Success? Grit
After reading the extremely informative article “True Grit: The Best Indicator of Student Success” on the Edutopia website, I became interested in the study of grit and its correlation to student growth. There are many helpful resources in the post including diagnostic tools for measuring grit (using the grit scale) and growth versus fixed mindset (using an online quiz).
Growth versus fixed mindset, or one’s belief that growth of talent and intelligence is either fixed or capable of growing, can be a contributing factor to students’ desire to persevere despite obstacles. According to the research of Carol Dweck, this intrinsic factor (and the external forces, such as feedback, that may affect it) could contribute to the achievement and growth of students.
Here are additional articles and resources related to grit, growth mindset, and types of feedback that encourage achievement:
- “What if the Key to Success is Failure?”– From The New York Times, this article summarizes the role that grit plays in students’ success. In the article, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist, summarizes, “The problem, I think, is not only the schools but also the students themselves… Here’s why: learning is hard. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifying — but it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging. . . . To help chronically low-performing but intelligent students, educators and parents must first recognize that character is at least as important as intellect.”
- “The Talent Myth”– From The New Yorker, the article summarizes the “myths” that incapacitate businesses when it comes to recruiting the “right” people for jobs based upon talent alone.
- “How Not to Talk to your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise”– From New York, this article explains that feedback which emphasizes “intelligence” and “talent” (for example, “you are such a good writer” or “you are so smart”) can actually hinder students desire and ability to accomplish difficult tasks.
- “Why do Some People Learn Faster”– From Wired, this article summarizes the research on growth mindset conducted by Carol Dweck and others. It states that learning from mistakes is a prime component of one’s ability to grow, stating, “Education is the wisdom wrung from failure.” Note: This source is written by Jonah Lehrer, who is a journalist of disrepute. However, the research in the article can be cross-referenced in other sources and is useful.
- Mindset Works– Based on the research of Carol Dweck, this website provides resources for teachers interested in implementing growth mindset education and practices in the classroom. You have to register for an account, but from the website, articles, resources and a TedTalk about growth mindset can be accessed.
My goals in working with teachers are the following:
- Explore the correlation between grit, growth mindset and SGP as measured by STAR
- Educate students on grit and growth mindset and provide opportunities for personal reflection
- Provide resources for teachers interested in implementing best practices regarding grit and growth mindset, ultimately improving student growth and achievement
To meet these goals, I would like to implement the following process:
- Use diagnostic tools (the grit scale and online growth mindset quiz mentioned above) to measure students’ current level of mindset and grit
- Educate students on these measures using both close reading of non-fiction texts (Reading Informational Texts CCS) and evaluating of speeches (Speaking and Listening CCS)
- Provide opportunities for students to reflect on the new information through writing and discussion
- Continue to work with teachers on implementing best practices for increasing student grit and growth
I have begun working with Tim Starkey using this process, and I will be posting the resources and follow-up information from our work together soon. My hope is to expand the scope of my collaboration and work with all willing teachers in the two high schools.
From Meet the Robinson’s:
“You failed, and it was awesome!”
“When you fail you are learning, with success, not so much.”
Courtesy of ELA instructional coach Ellen Weibel, I watched Candace Smith show this clip from Meet the Robinson’s (which is also linked on her class website) while discussing the Engineering process in a class where science and English combine.
She also explained the engineering design process pictured here:
In the co-taught class, students are encouraged to take risks using the challenge-based learning approach outlined here. To support the process, students each have a Chromebook purchased by his or her parents for a $125.00 payment each year over the two years of the program.
One main premise of the course is that students are not “punished” for trying and failing. The class is based on large-scale, real-world problems and the processes and strategies students use to solve them is more important than the final “product” being successful. In other words, the process is being assessed, not the product being produced.
The acceptance of failure does not mean lack of rigor; it may even be a requirement of rigor. The “design process” is a collaborative, creative, problem-solving venture which requires critical thinking and interpersonal skills necessary for life, and it includes a necessary place for revised thinking and second tries.
Accepting, even encouraging, failure creates something else in students too: grit. Grit is the number one indicator of success in students’ futures (see articles and resources listed below).
So, how can we help our students to fail, and then try again?
Additional resources on the importance of grit:
- Angela Lee Duckworth: The Importance of Grit on the TED Talk website. This resource is inspiring and very interesting as an educator. Here is a summary of the presenter’s bio:
Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.
- “Which Traits Support Success: The Importance of Grit” in Wired magazine