When I sat down to write this it was the beginning of exam week in the High School, and I thought about the students needing perseverance, grit to get through these next few days. But I didn’t want to say to kids, “Come on now, put your head down, and push on through”. That’s not it at all. Almost the opposite.
In life there are many ups and downs. That’s the nature of our existence and you feel pressure of the roller coaster particularly when you are moving upwards on that roller coaster, facing challenges, that life can present at times. So what do you do when things seem overwhelming? When we have so many deadlines and due dates ahead of us? That’s when we have to reach deep inside and see what we’re truly made of.
Dictionary.com offers the definition of resilience as “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched”. Well, life around here can really stretch you as a student. We are a highly academic school, students feel pressure from friends, family and school to do well, to do their best. They just finished their high school exams— was that a stretch? But they can feel so great when they come through the other side! They can see what they’ve accomplished. It really is worth the effort (although hard to see sometimes when you’re in the middle of it).
In the IB CORE class, we have been reading about grit, perseverance and resilience. The idea was to recognize that we as humans are a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We bounce back from traumas regularly. We survive disasters and are able to rebuild our lives. This power is within all of us.
As a parent it’s difficult to watch your children experience these difficulties. So what can we do to help?
- Unconditional love. If your children have that foundation they can stand up to whatever lies in front of them.
- Provide them with a positive belief about themselves. The book club this month is highlighting Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset”. There is a lot of research supporting Mindset and the power of your belief in your ability to change and grow.
- Bad things happen to kids but the positive growth from the experience is when kids determine the story of what happens next in their life. This trauma or event was just that. One event. What happens in the story of their life after that event is the important piece to focus on. Talk to them about it.
So when I wanted to talk about grit, perseverance and resilience this week, I wasn’t saying “Put your nose to the grindstone, and just do it”. But rather, “Sit back, and recognize all that has happened, recognize your ability to learn from this, and write the next chapter in your life story. It’s going to be a good one!”
“Social & Emotional Learning: Teaching Grit- How to help students overcome inner obstacles”
“True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to teach it”
“Grit: The other 21st century skill”
“Five Minute Film Festival: Freedom to Fail forward”