I recently finished reading the book Fostering Grit, which is an ASCD Arias book (it is short enough to read in a 1 hour sitting) written by Thomas R. Hoerr.
Every great educator knows that we can not only teach students content; that we must also teach character traits such as respect, responsibility, kindness, etc. Hoerr wrote this short guide under the premise that we must also teach the virtue of grit, which he defines as tenacity, perseverance, and the ability to never give up. The author points out that teaching grit can be difficult for educators, because “it runs counter to the caring school environments that we all esteem.” The author shares that we need to teach our students to respond positively to setbacks and to respond appropriately when things go wrong; as he writes, “turn a failure into a good failure, one from which we learn.”
As I read Hoerr’s book on how grit helps us to be resilient and to persevere when we fail, I made many connections to what I learned when reading Mindset by Carol Dweck. The concept of having grit goes hand in hand with the teaching students the concept of having a growth mindset.
Hoerr writes that as educators we can help teach our students to develop grit by introducing them to levels of complexity that are out of their comfort zone, to cause frustration and then help students to understand the frustration and how to respond to it. Students will benefit from us sharing our personal stories with them of how we have overcome obstacles and talking about the importance of grit. We can also share examples of others we know or famous people such as professional athletes, actors or even former presidents that our students may be surprised (and interested) in learning about the obstacles they overcame and how having grit helped them to be successful.
The author of Fostering Grit shares Six Steps of Teaching for Grit that each have great strategies to foster grit in your students:
1. Establish the environment
2. Set the expectations
3. Teach the vocabulary
4. Create the frustration
5. Monitor the experience
6. Reflect and learn
During Daily 5, students come back to the carpet in between “rounds” for a check-in which often serves as an opportunity for students to reflect on the reading/writing work they did. Many of our teachers have added other opportunities for reflection throughout the day. As I read Step 6, “Reflect and learn” I realized what a great opportunity reflection can be for students to stop and think about how easy/challenging a task is for them and think about how they felt when they didn’t give up on a frustrating task.
What other ways can you foster grit in students?