Tag Archives: mindset

Got Grit?

If you aren’t familiar with the term Grit, you might want to look up so you don’t get run over by the bandwagon!  Seems the phrase and the topic pops up quite frequently of late.  Ironically I started writing this post and then tuned in to hear NPR run a segment this morning Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead? and another this afternoon On The Syllabus: Lessons In Grit.  I highly recommend giving them a listen.

Angela Duckworth is a psychology professor at the University of PennsylvTrue_Gritania who coined the term “grit” (yes, based upon the novel and/or movie True Grit)  She received the MacArthur “genius grant” for it in the fall of  2013. According to Duckworth, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.“-Angela Duckworth TED Talks April 2013

The concept of Grit goes hand in hand with Mindset, in particular with a  Growth Mindset.  People with a growth mindset believe brains and/or talent are a starting point, not the only point.  They believe that with passion, practice and perseverance (Grit!) goals can be achieved and talents can be developed.  With a Growth Mindset (and Grit) students can learn from struggles and even failure more successfully.  They embrace the notion that FAIL = First Attempt in Learning and the word yet follows most “I can’t” statements.

The work of researchers and educators at this point is to see whether Grit or even Mindset can be taught to students in schools.  I think over the next few years we will see some compelling studies and some supports for schools interested in fostering these traits with their students. Certainly the work of Carol Dweck and her Brainology program is gaining traction in many schools.

But focusing on students alone is not where my thinking has coalesced on the topic, what about the teachers? If a profession ever needed Grit, teaching would surely be one.  There are struggles and failures on a daily basis when one is tasked with the education of dozens of very distinct and unique individuals.  There are parents with whom we need to communicate, administrators we need to please, curricula we need to master and a public that often views us as social welfare recipients.  Teachers (especially elementary) are often expected to be experts at everything!  Talk about a recipe for failure some days!

I work with new teachers every year and often wonder who will not only make it, but who will thrive and excel.  I work with veteran teachers who have been presented with ever changing reforms, initiatives, standards and evaluation systems.  I marvel at those who face every challenge with tenacity and a positive attitude and I look for ways to support those who are frustrated and exhausted.  Most of us lie somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.

mindset-sphere-hi-res-original-d-rendered-computer-generated-artwork-31936958-1Maybe one way to build our Grit and that of our colleagues is to first be aware of our Mindset and our level of Grit.  Understanding how we approach challenge and/or failure could be a first step in learning new strategies for dealing with  them and help us shift our thinking more successfully.   You can check out the  GRIT SCALES here.

Another way might be to cultivate a climate of Growth Mindset with our colleagues.  We can celebrate and be inspired by the success of others without feeling threatened or judgmental. We can seek out and learn from feedback without seeing it as a criticism of ourselves as people, but rather as a tool for stretching our abilities and understandings. We can recognize and acknowledge effort.  The teacher who always lucks out with the “good class” isn’t just lucky.   We can examine what it is that she/he does to create those conditions year after year.  We can embrace challenge and spend less time resisting the inevitable changes that come each year.  Lean on one another, problem solve together, encourage, praise and coach each other.

We can model Grit for our students.  Let them see us struggle with something and not give up.  Show them how we work through problems.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Show them what stamina looks like in ‘the real world’.  Help them set long term goals and not just seek instant gratification.  Let them feel some discomfort in grappling with new and unknown and resist the urge to jump in too quickly.  Let there be silence as students endeavor to comprehend ideas, formulate thoughts and solve problems. Teach them the power of the word, YET by using it often.

I think we can all agree that success comes from talent, hard work, perseverance, and passion (and occasionally some luck).  How we help our students and ourselves achieve success will depend upon the grit we display as we grow and learn.  The mindset we espouse may very well determine how ‘true’ our grit really is.

Share your own ideas for teaching grit. 

I welcome your feedback as an opportunity to continue to grow and learn!

What’s On My Book Radar?

51gNghE+NvL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_I finally got my hands on Natalie Lloyd’s Snicker of Magic.  I couldn’t wait to read the book I have been hearing so much about and I must say it has been worth the wait.  In fact, I have not yet finished reading it, I am totally savoring this one.  Felicity Pickle is a 12 year old girl who can see words as an aura around people and objects.  I am fascinated by the entire cast of characters who live and pass through Midnight Gulch, the town with just a ‘snicker of magic’ left in it.  Layered with compelling back stories of the history of the town and Felicity’s own family- this story is woven with a special magic from the first page! This will be one of those rare books I don’t want to leave, so I am in no hurry to finish. Oddly, I’m finding my ice cream craving has returned as well!!

Reflect. Resolve. Reframe.

Many of us oldladyyoungwomanhave seen this image before.  What do YOU see? An old woman with a large nose looking down or a young woman looking away?  It is the same picture-it is only our perception that is different.

Last day of 2013.  How do you see the year that was?         What is your perception of 2013?

Seems like everyone is taking some time to remember and reflect.  I’m no exception.  I love top 10 lists.  I love reviews of the year’s best books, movies, news stories, etc. I love flipping through my journals, my photo libraries, and Facebook pages to remember images and ideas I thought important enough to capture.  It is satisfying to contemplate goals achieved, tasks accomplished, memories made.

It’s not just fun.  It is foundational.  It is generational.  We use everything that we experience, learn, notice, share and understand as a foundation moving forward.  So how we contemplate these memories will shape the trajectory of the next year.  If we end the year with regret, how do you think we will begin the new year?  Do attitudes just magically transform at the stroke of midnight?

Are we anxious to get this year behind us?  Do we hope next year will be better?

As I look back on this past year I will take some time to appreciate how each experience has shaped who I am and has brought me to this moment in time.  I cannot change any events, but I can make every event an opportunity to learn and grow-even events long past.  So I will take some time today to reflect on what lessons were offered up to me with each book I read, each classroom I visited, each teacher I worked with, each friend I spent time with, each experience I shared with my children and husband.

This reflection, this perception,  will catapult me into a new year wide open with opportunities to learn and grow. I cannot predict what will happen.  I cannot control what will happen.  I can only choose how I will approach what happens.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not resolving to become Pollyanna, but I will encourage myself to look at life with more than one lens-to let perception shape my reality.

So rather than generating a list of resolutions this year I think I will focus on one idea…


It’s not new, it’s not exciting, it’s not easy but it is probably the most powerful gift I could give myself if I want to live a richer, more meaningful life.


We find disappointment when expectations seem to fall short.

We perseverate on the few things we failed to accomplish and give little recognition to the multitude of tasks we do accomplish.

We allow the urgent to replace the important.

We see the glass as half full (or empty) rather than completely full only because of what we perceive is in the glass.

We are not patient or compassionate with ourselves.

But what if…

We think about multiple success criteria for expectations.   techincally-the-glass-is-always-full-1

We recognize the little things we do as worthy and things undone as future opportunities.

We define what is important AS urgent.

We fill our glass with what WE choose so that it isn’t filled by others.

We treat ourselves like a nurturing parent filled with unconditional love and patience would treat us.

It’s not just positive thinking-it’s OUT OF THE BOX thinking that can reframe situations and events into meaningful experiences.  When we face challenges we need to approach things not only with an open mind, but a new mindset.  As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

I’ll revisit this concept more often in the coming year.  Some resources that have helped me on this journey so far are:



What’s on My Book Radar?

I am thoroughly enjoying my Book a Day Challenge. I have been posting my reads on twitter.  So many wonderful books!  You can follow me at https://twitter.com/LitCoachLady

I always love Malcolm Gladwell’s unique spin on universal experiences.  Whenever I need to challenge perception, I can count on his insights to stretch my thinking.  Got this one for my husband at Christmas- I might jump in line ahead of him to read this!

Wishing you much joy and prosperity in the new year and the ability to perceive that it is already yours!
What direction will your life take in 2014?

Click here to test YOUR perceived direction!