Grit: the willingness to continue working and giving maximum effort, even when the task is not easy or enjoyable.
If I could instill one characteristic into my students, no matter their grade level or natural abilities, this would be it. Grit is the one characteristic that will help every student succeed in the classroom and provide the foundation to reach his or her goals. Success is often not about your innate abilities, but about how much you want it.
High school, and life in general, is a test of excelling in areas you are not naturally good at, and becoming proficient in tasks you do not want to do. No student wants to do homework. No student wants to complete an English essay if they excel more in math class. But top students find a way to excel in every class, regardless of natural strength.
The students at the top of the class are usually not the most naturally gifted, but they are often the hardest workers. They push through their tough classes and dominate the classes they enjoy. Even when they face a difficult assignment, assessment, or project, these students have the grit to persevere and study longer, work harder, and sacrifice more. If a student has grit, he or she stops looking at the short-term results and focuses on the process. The process of a successful student is tedious, time-consuming, and can mean a difficult path that many “C” students are not willing to go through.
Top students have grit and are willing to give up time, fun, and often sleep to ensure they are ready to conquer the next day of school.
About 80% of the students with whom I work could continue to build grit. They underachieve not because they are incapable of performing better, but because they do not have the grit to complete every single assignment. They often find distractions and use excuses to justify their lack of work completion. I try to help students understand that there is no magic to success in the classroom, just like in the real world. Those who work the hardest create the most likelihood for success. They trust the process. Sometimes they work extremely hard studying for an exam and end up with a poor grade, but that doesn’t stop them from continuing to put in the continuous work for success.
Grit is trusting the process and it usually takes a minimum of one full quarter to begin to see positive results. The process takes time, but many students forego the process to take an easier path. They want to see results immediately, and when they do not have that immediate success, they give up. However, this moment is when true change can occur, especially with the help of a mentor. This moment is when true change can occur.
Through months of building a relationship with a student, creating rapport, and fostering accountability, I help my students build grit and believe in themselves. Even when it takes longer than expected, nothing can stop my students from achieving their dreams. Helping students find their path is my passion, as perseverance creates the ability for success.