#10: 8 ways to help students grow their grit

Grit is a great predictor of academic success--here are strategies teachers can use to help students improve their own grit

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on May 11th of this year, was our #10 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2018 countdown!]

For a relatively new buzzword, grit certainly has a lot of supporters. It is grit, and not necessarily IQ or talent, that can predict students’ academic success. And as educators seek to understand students from a motivational and psychological point of view, grit pays an important role.

“Grit is passion, perseverance for very long-term goals, stamina,” says Angela Duckworth in her now-famous 2013 TED Talk.

In that talk, viewed more than 13.5 million times, she describes her study of different predictors of success and how grit emerged as a significant predictor for long-term goals.

“How [do we] build grit in kids? The honest answer is, we don’t know. What we do know is that talent doesn’t make you gritty. So far, the best idea has been the growth mindset—the belief that ability to learn isn’t fixed, that it can change with your effort,” Duckworth says during her talk.

In the years since then, educators and psychologists have taken a longer look at grit, how teachers can foster it in classrooms, and how students can leverage it for long-term success.

“Grit is stick-to-it-ness, it’s backbone, it’s perseverance,” says Dr. Laura Barbanel, former program director of the Graduate Program in School Psychology, where she trained school psychologists. Barbanel works primarily in private practice now. “Someone with grit has a certain amount of optimism, a sense of the possible, a sense of self-efficacy.”

Making a plan, taking action, and keeping a sense of optimism helps develop grit, she says. Educators and parents can encourage students to develop grit using a few strategies.

1. Advise parents and talk to them about the balance between “doing for” their child and encouraging their child to do things on his or her own.”

2. Focus on what make a child feel empowered to set and work toward goals.

3. Make the plan of action and the goal doable. “Teachers know this, but sometimes parents forget it,” Barbanel says.

Laura Ascione
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