Our Students Need Grit

I’ve almost been trying NOT to use the term ‘grit’ because of how trendy it has become, but I’ve found it may be one of the best character traits we could possibly teach our students!

Grit is courage and resolve; strength of character. It’s clenching the teeth, especially in order to keep one’s resolve when faced with a tough or difficult responsibility.

Angela Duckworth, teaching middle schoolers in New York City Public Schools, discovered the importance of grit. Her research proposes that grit may be as important as intelligence in predicting success.

Every single one of our students are going to have roadblocks to overcome. They can look up facts and formulas, but will only persevere if they think they can.

NBC News created an amazing video titled “True Grit, Can You Teach Children Character?” that has presentations by Carol Dweck (growth minset guru) and Angela Duckworth (grit guru) as well as a panel discussion. If you don’t get a chance now to watch it now, consider coming back. It’s really powerful and interesting.

Students that are gifted, have straight As, disabilities, or second languages all run into walls. Are you providing them with the attitude to bust through the wall or will they just sit next to it, not realizing they had a sledgehammer in their hands the whole time?


Consider other ways to view grit:

  • Growth – Constant push to learn and better ourselves
  • Resilience – Ability to bounce back and learn from mistakes
  • Integrity – Staying focused on what’s right and what’s helpful
  • Tenacity – Never giving up, even when it get’s really, really tough

As teachers, coaches, and leaders, we are the grit in the oyster that causes the pearl to grow and shine. Students don’t learn best from padded walls and gloves, but by challenges and problems.

I’ve seen grit in our teachers!

I’ve seen teachers come to school sick and exhausted, but they would tell me that their students need them and can’t miss a single day.

I’ve seen teachers work with individual students on the same skill, over and over and over again throughout the year to finally have that student master it in May. In other cases resource teachers like reading and special education spend years on these skills to finally have the student master them in 5th grade.

I’ve seen teachers do home visits with families, miss their own lunches, and volunteer time before/after school with students to do everything they could to connect with them.

I’ve seen teachers volunteer on their own time for additional professional development, reading books, doing research, and learning new instructional strategies, soaking it up like sponges for their students.

I’ve seen teachers cry because they want so badly to do their best for their their students that it overwhelms them.

-I like things that make you grit your teeth..png

How can we teach grit to our students? 

  • Multi-step and open-ended (more than one way to solve) problems
  • Differentiating instruction to provide challenge to every student
  • Teaching self-management skills and positive habits so students know how and where to look for answers
  • Modeling our thinking through discussion on what we do when we get stuck
  • Praising effort and grit when we see it and not just the ‘right’ answers
  • Read & watch stories about characters or real life examples who show grit

Below is a playlist of videos to learn more on grit and growth mindset as well as videos to use with students. Click on the upper left corner for the list of videos in the playlist.

Below are some books to helps students learn about grit, growth mindset, and perseverance:

Do you have grit?

Do you think it’s important?

Are you actively giving this gift to your students?

1/17/15 Post Addition

Edutopia came out with an article on 1/5/16 with a ton of great “Resources Fostering Grit” in the classroom. Check them out here: http://www.edutopia.org/article/grit-resources