10 Ways to Develop #Grit and #Resiliency In Our Students (@sguditus Steve Guditus)

Angela Duckworth appears to have succeeded because she possesses the two characteristics she claims leads to success in the students she has studied: grit and self-control.  Her theory suggests an understanding that intelligence is not fixed, but malleable, and that what we do to support our children and expand their potential matters: parents, schools, teachers, mentors and communities.  @ruthetam, a freelance writer, interviewed Dr. Duckworth, a former consultant, 7th grade math teacher and neuroscientist, and recent MacArthur Genius Award recipient to get a better idea of what she will study now that she has won this $625,000 unrestricted grant.  

Dr. Duckworth's previous work has centered on importance of grit - the ability to sustain effort, focus and determination on long-term goals - and its impact on future success of students.  Dr. Duckworth's grit test, a simple 22 question test (for which you can signup - for free - by clicking here), has been shown to predict success, more so than straight IQ, academic, fitness and other tests. 

In order for our students to be successful, we need to have high standards and community support - and we need to focus on helping our students to develop grit and resilience.  Duckworth's focus on the whole child and realization that children are more than an IQ and standardized testing score is refreshing - as is her conclusion that test scores are not all evil, if they are not the only way in which we measure student learning and growth.  Duckworth's research alone is evidence that we must focus our efforts, especially in middle school, on modeling and developing lifelong learning, good habits, and sustaining resiliency and "grit," as Duckworth has coined the phrase.  How can we do this in our schools?

  1. Encourage your students to be creative.
  2. Create opportunities for students to engage in long-term projects.  Support your students in sustaining interest and projects for a longer period of time.
  3. Have students reflect upon what strategies help them sustain focus and interest.
  4. Don't protect students from failure or disappointment; instead, help students work through and past disappointment and failure.
  5. Adults should model overcoming adversity.  We must model what we want to see in students.
  6. Reflect upon failure.  Why did it happen?  What can I do next time differently?
  7. Allow time to play, to create and to reflect.  
  8. Encourage students to stick with a goal and see it through to the end.
  9. Ensure students have a trusted adult in their school, preferably one who loops with them through the grades - this will help sustain ongoing work and goals.
  10. Build time into the school day to set goals, revisit them, and reflect upon how we (students, staff, parents/guardians) can do things differently.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall.” 

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can watch Dr. Duckworth's May, 2013 TEDTalk on the importance of grit by clicking below:

Works Cited:


Well said, Steve. Her work ought to resonate deeply for all of us. Love your list of suggestions. In that those students we all know "can, but don't" seem to be our most frustrating character, we should prioritize this idea. After all, it's too often themselves they're giving up on.
Ni said…
Hi Steve, have you read How Children Succeed by Paul Tough? He talks about Dr. Duckworth's research and other very interesting studies! I found it to be a great book!

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