Grit and Growth Mindset…Necessities!

The other day a teacher walked into my office with some questions about student learning goals.  He wanted to teach his students “grit” and find a way to measure their growth.  I have to be honest, this was one of the most exciting educational conversations I’ve had this year.  When he left my office I was off and running on an uncontrollable urge to re-read all of the grit articles I had bookmarked and re-watch all of the related videos…it’s just too inspiring!

If you’re unfamiliar with the character strength called “grit”, then I strongly urge you to stop right now and watch this TED talk by Angela Duckworth, it is only 6:09 long and not shockingly has only 7.3 Million views…more people need to see this!!

For those of you who are in that 7 million plus viewer group, you’re already a convert…I’m sure of it!  The idea of “grit” and the data coming out of the research is just too impactful to ignore.  However, as Duckworth points out, there’s a problem…we (humans) still aren’t 100% sure of how to teach grit.  In her TED Talk, Duckworth points out that Carol Dweck’s concept of the growth-mindset is likely the best available theory for approaching the teaching/learning of grit.  If you’re not familiar with Carol Dweck and Growth Mindset then…stop and watch this now!  

Growth Mindset is something that is so crucial to success that it just can’t be ignored.  There are, of course, very successful people who’ve never learned a Growth Mindset but there is just too much evidence that shows how having a Growth Mindset and believing in “the power of yet” can change someone’s life.  

The implications for “grit” and Growth Mindset for educators (and parents) are astronomical.  It may require slowing down a bit in class, taking time to help students “relearn” material, or adjusting our practice as educators.  Rick Wormeli, a former Disney Teacher of the year and one of the first Nationally Certified Teachers in the USA, speaks about the implications of the Growth Mindset for our classrooms.  This video is an absolute must watch for all educators, no question about it!  No matter if you’ve seen this video before or not, please watch it and contemplate the implications for your classroom.  

Our role as educators is extremely important.  The tasks we are charged with are many but the most important of all is the future success of our students.  “Grit” and Growth Mindset are two of the factors that research has shown to dictate success in life; how do these two things fit into your classroom?

The Importance of Celebration in the Classroom

During our Learning Walks a few weeks ago we focused on the idea of celebration and kept a specific eye out for all the amazing things happening in classrooms.  In quick visits to the classroom it’s not realistic for us to see all of the ways that people are celebrating their students and the learning that is happening.  However, we are able to see so many wonderful things happening that we decided we wanted to celebrate you and all of your hard work!  

The importance of celebration in the classroom is something that is often overlooked in the planning process.  With so many other pieces to coordinate and account for, there is a lot to do to get ready for a successful class.  However, celebration can not and should not be overlooked if you want to create a truly positive culture and community in your classroom.  Take the Marzano Teacher Toolkit as an example of the importance of celebration.  There is no doubt about the amount of research that Robert Marzano has put into his work and he includes the reflective question “What do I typically do to celebrate success?” as Element 3.  So, today I challenge you to ask that question of yourself…

As the first quarter has come to a close and reports have just gone home, we have a lot to celebrate (starting with a much deserved 4 day weekend!)  Our students have made it through the start of another school year and they’ve done it (for the most part) with grace.  Some of our students have learned the importance of grit and how to fail.  Others still need to perfect the art of failing and the resilience that goes along with it.  If you’re not one of the 7 million plus people who has watched Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk about the importance of Grit I urge you to do so soon, it’s fantastic!  However, I digress…celebration is the agenda item today – Our students are worth a lot of celebrations and so are you!

In the High School meeting on Wednesday we started out with the “Shout-Outs” protocol and it went very well, so well that I’m worried there were still more celebrations to share…we’ll continue this practice next time we meet and MS teachers we’ll implement it soon 🙂  This is a powerful tool for celebrating in your classes as well, teach your students and get them celebrating each other (especially after group work or other situations where their classmates were involved in their learning.)  Another great tool is one that I came across while searching for student support resources but it totally applies to everyone, it’s called “The Fridge”.  A great way for students to be recognized and recognize their own hard work at the same time, the best part is that it’s voluntary!  

I love the idea of student self-reflection and even more so when it focuses on the positive.  Have a look at this video (it’s only 1 minute 20 seconds!) to see another great way of recognizing students’ “shining moments”.  How could you implement something like this in your classroom?  At the bottom of a rubric like this teacher?  As an exit ticket at the end of class?  As a blog post?  Maybe a comment on Edmodo.  Self-reflection is an incredibly powerful tool and a discussion for another time; today focus on how you can implement more celebration into your classroom.

Here’s to all of you and the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing 4 day weekend!!