I love TED Talks. I use them often in my Life Coaching or ELA classes. One of my favorites is by Angela Lee Duckworth. She shares about how she left a very demanding position in consulting to join another very demanding position- middle school math teacher in the New York City public schools. 

By example, she showed her students that success doesn’t necessarily come from how high a student’s IQ is. Now I’m not saying that she’s not smart. I am saying that she spotlighted her own grit by believing in her students’ abilities to grasp the hard concepts that 7th grade math presents. She continued to press, observe, analyze, and determine why her “smartest” students weren’t necessarily doing so well, and why her strongest performers weren’t necessarily the “smartest”. She found that it took grit, and some students used it. 

How can we teach our students to grab and grow grit like it’s their golden ticket? 

  1. Start by doing what brings enjoyment.  It’s hard to stick to something that isn’t interesting. 
  2. Provide a guide. It’s hard to do something when you don’t know how.
  3. Try, do, repeat. Someone once told me, “Practice makes progress”. 
  4. Keep hope alive. The idea of life-long learning is actually a thing. Old dogs can learn new tricks.
  5. Embrace copy catting. If we want our students to succeed, they need permission to do at least some of what other successful kids do. 

Good grit=no quit.

At the end of Angela’s TED Talk, as all good math teachers do, she sums it up…

“Get grittier about getting gritty.”

Michelle Johnson

ELA Teacher