Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Trouble with Grit: Arming Preservice Teachers with Grit and Strategies Is Not the Way to Prepare Them for a Profession They Chose Based on Their Underlying Beliefs and Sense of Creativity

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Trouble with Grit: Arming Preservice Teachers with Grit and Strategies Is Not the Way to Prepare Them for a Profession They Chose Based on Their Underlying Beliefs and Sense of Creativity

Article excerpt

Some lawmakers and alternative teacher preparation programs believe that preparing teachers is relatively straightforward--find individuals with grit, give them a bunch of proven teaching strategies, and get them into a classroom. But is building a stronger, committed teacher really that simple? Proponents of grit would argue that gritty new teachers are more likely to tough it out in teaching, that they will learn and adapt to the job regardless of its complexity and difficulty. However, the grit-and-strategies approach ignores that most teachers are drawn to education based on their beliefs and sense of creativity --things that light fires and provide inspiration and lead to a meaningful, long-term commitment to teaching. To develop new teachers who are committed to the profession, we must develop in them the three E's: Envision, Engage, and Execute.

Envision

Most new teachers choose to become teachers based on a set of beliefs, such as helping others and sharing knowledge, formed from their personal observations and experiences as adolescent students that often become the driving force of their teaching ambitions. A focus on grit and teaching strategies disregards the importance of cultivating these beliefs. Instead, we must help new teachers create a teaching vision that is informed by what they want for students, themselves, and the profession. This vision can help new teachers rise above daily classroom challenges because their vision is a constant reminder of why they became teachers and is more significant than any difficult classroom moment. The teaching vision also helps identify teaching and learning theories and strategies that have deeper meaning to them and their students.

Engage

Once they understand their teaching vision, new teachers can engage with the content of teaching in more meaningful ways. An exclusive focus on grit and teaching strategies can discredit the need to understand theory related to teaching and learning. Such theories create a foundation for new teachers to thoughtfully engage with curriculum and instruction concepts and application. Effective teaching requires creative and critical thinking skills that must be taught to new teachers so that they can engage. …

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