As we are approaching the home stretch of the academic year, the curriculum is challenging, the weather is turning nice (sort of), and there is a tendency to sit back and coast to the finish line. Such seasons reveal opportunities for students, parents and staff alike to practice the character traits of resilience and perseverance. If you ask your student what perseverance means, he or she will undoubtedly come back with “working hard all the way to the end.” This is a character trait that will serve us well the next few months.
I read a book a while back by Carol S. Dweck called Mindset (thanks to the recommendation of ICA parent Rob Chappelle) that contains some fascinating insight for teaching perseverance.
She advocates emphasizing hard work instead of natural ability for adults and students alike. As parents, instead of ascribing success to natural giftedness, (“You’re/he’s/she’s really good at that!”) we must look for opportunities to praise musical, athletic, or academic achievements not because of talent, but for the hard work and perseverance that lead to success
When a student comes up against a road block of some kind, they can’t simply say, “I’m not good at this”. We can teach them to say, “I just haven’t learned this or mastered this skill yet, but I can if I keep working.” Ms. Dweck labels this a “growth mindset”, and cites in her book myriad examples of how well-known people have used the growth mindset to become successful in any number of fields.
This one principle has revolutionized the way I look at parenting and teaching. There are many students who have natural ability and yet do not do well because they don’t really care to, and just as many who do not have any natural ability who work hard and do extremely well. The difference seems to be found in the heart. As parents, we have the opportunity to nurture the mindset that leads to a heart of perseverance in our children!
Developing the grit that perseverance requires must be intentional for each of us. Take some time the next few months to encourage your students to “Finish…STRONG!”