said, “but it’s not easy for me, and I tend to procrastinate.”
Occasionally, I would tell a teacher before a classroom obser-
vation that I wanted to see a lesson that was different and out of his
or her comfort zone. “Try something new and really hard,” I said,
“knowing that it might not work. If it doesn’t, we can talk about
what you’ll do differently next time.”
A key step in fostering grit is reflecting on how we already use it.
When teaching students about grit, for example, we might ask them
how they respond in different settings—both in school and out of
school—when things become hard for them. A student who uses grit
in caring for younger siblings, learning to play a musical instrument,
or practicing gymnastics may not realize that the same attitude—
acceptance of mistakes as opportunities to learn, willingness to
engage in repeated experiences, and a refusal to quit—is relevant in
learning to write or do math.
Educators, too, can benefit from reflecting on the use of grit in
their lives. Principals can help teachers see how the perseverance
and passion they use at home as they interact with their families or
pursue an avocation can be applied to challenges at school, too. For
example, a teacher who found it difficult to keep up with grading
essays was a runner, so he and I talked about how he could tackle
a pile of ungraded papers by calling on the same perseverance that
enabled him to run regardless of how tired he felt.
It’s important to note that using grit doesn’t simply mean working
harder. Teachers and principals already work hard. But regardless of
how talented we are or how hard we work, some parts of our job will
always require added determination. Despite the effort and progress
we’ve made, we’ll always face new challenges that will require us to
try and try again while maintaining our focus and energy.
Be a Grit Partner
Finally, we can be grit partners for one another. An important part
of fostering grit in students is sharing with them how we have used
grit in our own lives. Just as we sometimes watch Olympic athletes
and think how talented they are without considering the thousands
of hours they’ve spent practicing, students may assume that the
achievements of the adults around them came pretty easily. After all,
Using grit doesn’t
simply mean working harder.
Teachers and principals
already work hard.