You are on page 1of 6


Overcoming Obstacles: Guiding for Growth and Grit!

Jane Wilson, PhD

Jennifer Sanchez

Lay the Foundation

Create a Safe Environment

Build a foundation of trust (teacher-student & student-student relationships)

o o o o

Messages from the Teacher Mistakes and failure are a gateway to learning. We can respectfully agree and disagree. A growth mindset isnt just about being the best; its about improving oneself. You can get better with practice. Challenging work is more fun. We all make mistakes. Its a part of learning.

Build trust. Communicate value and worth of students (regardless of performance). Display respectlistening and responding. Create space where varied perspectives are encouraged.

Provide a structured and calm classroom environment o Establish clear routines and procedures so classroom feels calmer (and executive function can flourish). o Leave stressors at home. Communicate that mistakes are part of learning o Admit mistakes and express how you grew from mistakes. o Expect your own best effort.

Promote and Proclaim Growth and Grit

Convey that learning is fascinating o Possess a deep desire to ignite the mind of every student. o Find joy in students learning new things. o Model being fascinated with learning as a teacher.

Hold growth and grit in high esteem o Highlight growth and grit as central to students success in school and life. o Make stories of struggle and eventual success central pieces of Proclaim Growth and Grit class discussions. ! Share about heroes (people who persevered). Intelligence can be cultivated through ! Focus on effort needed to succeed. Offer support and resources for students o Convey that you desire to help students develop. o Provide students with resources that can help them reach high standards and expectations. o Post sentence starters to provide language for students: ! I am wondering ! I dont understand . . . yet ! I am struggling with

effort. Success is about stretching yourself to become smarter. The more you use your brain, the more connections you make, and the stronger your brain becomes. This is going to be challenging. I will provide the resources and you provide the effort.

! !


Explicitly Teach Growth Mindset and Grit

Define and Model Terms
Growth Mindset: working harder to get smarter. (Dweck 2007) ! Explain how the brain works. ! Tell students that their brains literally change by studying, reviewing, and focusing. Grit: working strenuously toward challenges while maintaining effort and interest despite failure. (Duckworth 2007) Grit is one of seven essential character strengths needed for success in school and life (grit, zest, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence,
and curiosity). Explain Growth and Grit Intelligence is not predetermined. Intelligence can be nurtured through effort. You can make stronger pathways in your brain with practice. Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. The more you practice, the better you get. Put your goal in your brain and ask how you can meet it!

Grit means to put forth effort through lots of practice. ! Practice setting and working towards goals. ! Practice continuing effort when things are going well. ! Practice perseverance when you encounter obstacles: Practice setting a smaller goal. Practice adapting with a different strategy. Practice seeking out new resources.

Explain that Intelligence Grows

If students think, know, and believe that they can improve their intelligence, they will do better (i.e. focus more and try harder). Model improvement as a teacher (e,g, pursuing further education, seeking mentorship, admitting errors). Explain that the brain is like a muscle the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Show how dendrites (brain connectors) grow when a person learns. Remind students that the brain grows most when one encounters new, novel, and challenging situations.

Teach about the Brain

Promote Healthy Living

Encourage exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet to keep the brain alert.

! !


Practice, Practice, Practice

Repeat Message in Various Ways
Comment on Effort Youre sticking with this. You didnt give up. Look how many times you tried. You obviously took your time. You were working on this for a while and you didnt quit.

Provide ample wait (think) time. Hold up a stop sign that says, Think. Practice adding YET to I cant do that . . .YET. CALL/RESPONSE:! o Teacher: Growth Mindset. ! Students: Working harder to get smarter. o Teacher: Perseverance. ! Students: We never give up.! o Teacher: Challenge. ! Students: Were up for it. o Student: Can I try again? ! Class: Great start! Write quotes on grit/perseverance on top of tests. Have students write learning plans (setting goals). Have students visualize, in a concrete ways, how to carry out the plan. Teach students to self-check (self-monitor).
Incorporate challenge: o Require that all students work in areas that are unfamiliar and

Show Me Your Plan Lets write a plan for practicing and/or learning. Tell me about it. Lets see what you did. I see that you _____ (specific comment). Acknowledge the Challenge You can help your brain grow by working on challenges. I see that youre stretching yourself to learn new things. Of course its toughschool is here to make our brains stronger! Lets stop here and return tomorrow with a fresher brain.

Write Learning Plans

Practice Taking Challenges and Facing Failure

less comfortable for them. Discuss that failure is usually a part of facing a challenging task. Learn from failure: o Observe. Learn. Improve. o Emphasize effort. o Set new goals.

Engage in Mental Contrasting (Cognitive Coaching)

Elaborate the future: o Identify the desired (feasible) outcome. o Identify the benefits of completing the project. Reflect on present reality: o Identify obstacles that may hinder completion BEFORE they happen (time, distractions, lack of resources, etc.). o Brainstorm what to do when obstacles occur. ! Formulate if-then plans.

Learn from Failure What can you learn from this? How can you improve? What could you do differently?

Teach Strategies for Working through Obstacles

Remind students that effort helps them get through an obstacle.! Strategies for feeling stuck: o Set a mini-goal (to get back on track). o Try a different strategy. o Get more resources (seek input from others, books, computer resources, and supplies). Do a brief physical exercise to energize the brain.

Comment on Strategy Show me how you figured that out. I can see that you understand by _____. Whats your (big/mini) goal? Whats another strategy to try? What resources could help?

! !


Help Students to Stop and Think

All of these questions can begin: Lets stop and think or Lets self-check (Executive Function at Work)

Stop and Think BEFORE a learning task

Help students to set goals for learning, identify strategies, and seek resources.
Teacher Motivation Here is todays challenge for learning. Here are strategies and resources that can help you succeed. How can you challenge yourself today? Student Self-Check What is my big goal? What is a mini-goal to get started? How can I figure this out? What strategies might help me? When, where, and how do I begin?

Stop and Think DURING a learning task

This is a key moment to success. Ask students to stop and think so they can determine if theyre on the right track or if theyve encountered an obstacle and need to regroup.
Teacher Assistance Do you need more time to think? Tell me what youve done thus far. Whats your big goal? Whats your next mini-goal? Whats another strategy you could try? What resources could help? Student Self-Check Am I on the right track? What is my strategy? When you encounter an obstacle: Can I try to reach a smaller goal? Can I try a different strategy? What resources could help (people, technology, supplies, books)?

Stop and Think AFTER a learning task

Help students to reflect upon their learning to identify successes, how they overcame obstacles, and new goals for the future.
Teacher Prompted Self-Assessment on Challenges What did you struggle with today? What did you do when you got stuck? When did you have an aha moment? How many ways did you try before you figured it out? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What helped you persevere? How did it feel to stick with it? Student Self-Check What strategies did I use to help me succeed? What did I do when I got stuck? How could I improve next time? What new goals do I want to reach?

! ! !

"#$%!&'()*$!+,-.!#$/!"%$$'0%1!2#$3,%4.!&%)56*$5!7*((%8%.!9:;<! !

! !

Celebrate Growth and Grit

Celebrate Growth and Grit
Celebrate Growth and Grit Your brain is making new connections! Lets celebrate how youre working. Look what youve accomplished. You kept working and you figured it out.

Praise students for practice, study, choices, persistence, eagerness and good strategies. Praise students for working hard to help their brain grow. Massage your brain. Reward effort. Let a student wear a HARD HAT (construction worker) when you see them working hard. Give brain awards.
Remind parents to tell their child that they love them! Teach parents how to notice growth and grit in their children.!

Involve Parents!

! ! !

! !


Quotes and Scripture on Growth, Grit, Perseverance, and Hard Work

(Classroom Application: wall signs, bulletin boards, test headers, parent letters, class mottos, etc.)

Floreant dendrite - may your brain cells flourish. T. Buzan Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure. Unknown Never, never, never give up. Winston Churchill If youre not making ten mistakes each day, youre not trying hard enough. Jan Davidson Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford The opposite of success is not failure, but mediocrity. Michael Raynor (Sony) We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because were curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Walt Disney You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. Maya Angelou Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time. T. Edison Every strike brings me closer to the next home run. Babe Ruth It always seems impossible until its done. Nelson Mandela Continuous effortnot strength or intelligenceis the key to unlocking all our potential. Winston Churchill All the adversity Ive had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, has strengthened me. Walt Disney Failure happens all the time. It happens everyday in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it. Mia Hamm Learning is hard. True, learning is fun, exhilarating and gratifyingbut it is also often daunting, exhausting and sometimes discouraging. Angela Duckworth With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable. T.F. Buxton The longest journey begins with but a single step. Chinese Proverb

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. Hebrews 10:36 Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always. 1 Chronicles 16:11 May the Lord direct your hearts into Gods love and Christs perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:5 I know your deeds, your hard work and perseverance. Revelation 2:2a All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters . . . Colossians 3:23 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me Philippians 4:13 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for usyes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. Deuteronomy 15:10

! !