Fostering Grit: How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World?

Fostering Grit: How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World?

Fostering Grit: How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World?

Fostering Grit: How Do I Prepare My Students for the Real World?

Synopsis

For too long, educators have focused only on getting students ready for the next test, for the next grade, for graduation, or maybe for college. Students must be prepared to succeed in school, and they must know how to read, write, and calculate. But that's only the beginning. Our job--whether we teach kindergarten, 5th grade, or high school or we lead a school or district--is to prepare students for success in the real world. To do so, we must also teach grit. Grit is a combination of tenacity and perseverance--a willingness to take risks even if it means sometimes failing and starting again. Knowing how to respond to frustration and failure is essential whether a student struggles or excels. Veteran school leader and popular Educational Leadership columnist Thomas R. Hoerr shows what teaching for grit looks like and provides a sample lesson plan and self-assessments, along with a six-step process applicable across grade levels and content areas to help students build skills they need to succeed in school and in life.

Excerpt

Is our job to prepare students for success in school or for success in life? How we answer that question has powerful implications for what and how we teach. For too long, educators have focused only on getting students ready for the next test, the next grade, graduation, college, and so on. The test-score mania under which we’ve worked for the past decade—with students, teachers, and schools judged on percentiles—has exacerbated our short-term focus.

Don’t misunderstand me: Students must be prepared to succeed in school; they must learn how to read, write, and calculate. But that’s only the beginning. Our job as educators is to prepare students for success in the real world. A focus on success in life means that, beyond teaching the three Rs, we must also teach character, emotional intelligence, responsibility, and an appreciation for the complexity of human diversity. We must also teach the virtues of grit—tenacity, perseverance, and the ability to never give up.

Teaching grit can be difficult for educators because the concept appears to run counter to the caring school environments that we all esteem. It is very important that students enjoy learning and want to come to school, but teaching grit necessarily means that students will experience—and perhaps embrace—some frustration and pain. We do our students no favors if we fail to prepare them for the real . . .

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