The Concept of Grit
As I began reading through the new IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) publication, Learning and Teaching, I was thrilled to see the transdisciplinary skills had been updated and are now much more relevant to the classroom context than before (2018). The Approaches to Learning includes the same 5 different sets of skill groups,
but have been improved to include sub-skills for 21st century learners. As a professional learning community (PLC), we decided to take a deep dive into these five skill groups and investigate ways to apply them to the classroom. As a team, we divided up them up between us and I took on the self-management skills but focusing on the newly added sub-skills embedded within the category, states of mind.
As the PYP Coordinator, I do not have a classroom of students to work with so I partnered with our grade 4 team to integrate self-management skills into the upcoming unit of inquiry on How we express ourselves. We planned on times in the schedule (twice weekly) when I could come guide an inquiry into the states of mind for about a month. I began preparing for this by researching the States of Mind sub-skills: mindfulness, perseverance, emotional management, self-motivation and resilience. Through my research, I discovered a way to approach these skills conceptually for our grade 4 students by teaching the concept of grit. These videos below inspired me with ideas and the curriculum that Amy Lyon created on Edutopia was helpful.
We used the Frayer Model to slowly begin working towards a common definition of grit. We watched a second video clip about a teenager with grit and I read the story, What do you do with a problem?. We then split into teams and used mind maps to brainstorm what we already knew about resilience, perseverance, emotional management and self-motivation. Our school counselor has already been giving lessons on some of these character traits. Students presented their summaries to help us create a deeper understanding of grit. We were able to describe the characteristics of grit, what it looked like and what it did not look like. We built our Frayer Model over a period of a month, as I came twice a week to continue our lessons.
As a culminating assignment, I asked all grade 4 students to interview a family member who had achieved a goal through perseverance over a long period of time. Once the students had conducted their interviews, we returned to the Frayer Model, checked for more descriptors and wrote a collaborative definition of grit. I then asked all students to honestly and privately, take Angela Duckworth's grit scale assessment and set a SMART goal for the upcoming months to strengthen their ability to show grit.
As a result of our investigation into grit and weekly reflections, the grade 4 teachers have shared that their students are increasingly aware of this character trait; they identify with it and give each other feedback and recognition for demonstrating grit during class meetings. This process has empowered them as agents of their learning to take more responsibility for the things they can change in themselves. Motivation appears to be improving in some students. Let's hope we have set them on a path toward attaining success in their lives through the application of grit. It is certainly a characteristic we are considering to add to our Learner Profile as it embodies so much.
Feedback that yields a growth mindset
Throughout the year, our students will be bringing home report cards and various projects. There is a wide variety of parental responses to the work that students show them. You may choose to reward your child with compliments on intelligence, or buy a treat as an indulgence. You may express disappointment or even get angry. Is there a better way? How can we speak to children about their learning constructively at home?
· How can you, as parents, respond to these assessments?
· How can you help your child develop a growth mindset based on your feedback and that of his/her teacher?
Feedback can shape a child’s beliefs about him/herself. If the feedback is egocentric (feeding the ego with compliments), it can produce unrealistic ideas about self. Or it can decrease motivation or resilience to yield a child who looks for the easy way out more often than not (Mindset Works, 2017). For instance, praising your child for being such a smart kid rather than for working hard and putting in a lot of effort.
On the other hand, if teachers and parents focus on feedback that is non-egocentric, both motivation and resilience increase. This kind of feedback focuses on skills, effort, perseverance, goal setting and accepting challenges through which your child will develop a growth mindset. This kind of person accepts challenges, does not give up easily and is highly motivated.
A fixed mindset person can be defined as…
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They're wrong (Dweck, 2010).”
While a growth mindset person is defined as…
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities (Dweck, 2010).”
Over the last couple years, I’ve been consciously trying to develop my own skills for giving better feedback, even to my own young adult son and daughter. I look for ways to support them so I can challenge them to continue to grow as human beings rather than just feeding them with compliments. If you’re interested in learning more, you can continue to read some of these sites referenced below or download the book by Carol Dweck on your Kindle reader, Mindset.
For examples of ways to give feedback, click here.
Praise effort, not intelligence
Dweck, C. (2010). What is mindset? Retrieved from https://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/
Mindset Works (2017). Dr. Dweck’s discovery of fixed and growth mindsets have shaped our understanding of learning. Retrieved from https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/
As an international educator, I work with colleagues in my local and global network regularly to implement inquiry through concept-based approaches to learning and teaching. It is a journey of discovery, learning and growing our own understandings about the ways children learn.
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