Friday, May 17, 2013

Need to get Grittier about developing Grit in kids

At the beginning of the school year, I gave a presentation to our students and staff discussing the three areas that I believe are critical to one's success. My message was that if you can be successful in developing students with the skills/characteristics/dispositions in two of the three categories, you can expect the student to be successful in their future endeavors.  The categories are based on students having the  academic skills/knowledge we expect of our graduates, developing students who have high character, and helping students develop a high level of toughness.  At Van Meter, we describe those three areas as:
  1. 90/1/25- The stuff you need to know and be able to do. The numbers for us mean 90% of our students will be proficient, show one year's growth on Iowa Assessments, and we wanted 25% of each grade level to be at the advanced proficient level
  2. Good People- Being nice, polite, thoughtful of others, respectful, etc.
  3. Grit- Being able to persevere through challenges. Having a level of toughness that allows one to overcome obstacles.
We have worked hard to develop these three areas in our students during the year. The challenge is measuring categories 2 and 3.  It is easy to see if we were successful in the first category.  And quite frankly, we were successful as you can see on the chart below:

Like any other school, we want our students to be good people. We would like to think that they are, but it is a little more difficult to come up with data to support that thinking. We are working on some measures to validate our beliefs, but ultimately, we have no way to prove that our students are good people other than our regular observations of their actions.  We have a lot of good people in our building.

The one category I get most excited about is grit.  To me it is the key to any person's success. If you think of any person that is considered successful, there usually is a level of stick-to-itiveness that has helped them get to where they are.  I have read some of Angela Duckworth's work in the past, and I am encouraged by her findings, but the video below is the first time I have had the opportunity to hear her speak.

You can get your own grit score here.

We are working on developing the grit needed in our students to be successful.  Creating a culture in which students push through the challenges in front of them with a commitment and desire that will help them find continuous success is what we are striving to accomplish at Van Meter.  My favorite quote is from Charles R. Swindoll, " is 10% what happens and 90% how I react to it." This quote summarizes what determines one's success. How we respond to the highs and lows of life, defines who we are as people.

Imagine developing a community of people that have a high level of skills, with high character, and the grit needed to persevere when the going gets tough. This community would guarantee the success of all of its students.  We are by no means there yet, but we are making great strides to enacting our vision for Van Meter students.

1 comment:

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