Sunday, September 15, 2013

Grit starts with believing in yourself

The current trend in education is to focus on grit.  If you haven’t heard of grit, many define it as the persistence over time to overcome challenges and accomplish goals.  Many of us who live in southeast Ohio are very familiar with it.  People who have lived in Appalachia Ohio are full of grit.  It is something that our region is known for.  We live in an area of blue-collar, hard workers who provide for their families as best as they can.  As adults, we want our children to be resilient and overcome obstacles that allow them to grow and succeed so they can be successful.

Having a trait like grit is a great thing for a child.  I have always thought that talking to students about grit and resiliency is easy as am educator.  A student can develop grit or have experiences in life that have allowed them to become resilient.  I think before a student can have grit, he or she must believe in themselves enough to know that they can overcome whatever comes their way.  Students have to believe in themselves in order to succeed.  The key is getting students to believe in themselves to give themselves a chance to overcome obstacles.

Sadly enough, there are a number of students in communities in Appalachia Ohio who don’t have grit.  As much we as educators try to get them to believe in themselves, there are factors that have contributed to lives that make it difficult for students to believe in themselves.  Things such as past experiences of failure, a lack of support from family and/or friends, and an overall lack of success in school are reasons why some students don’t believe in themselves.  As educators, we need to give the believers & potential believers a great deal of support.  Anytime an educator can give students support that encourages believing, it gives the student a chance to have a positive core of believing in themselves embedded in their daily lives.  Demonstrating to students compassion, respect, and encouragement can change a student’s life and create a mindset of positive beliefs.  Building positive and lasting relationships with students will create a mindset that people in believe in them and that they should believe in themselves, no matter what happens in their lives.

Educators need to positive and reinforce positive experiences for students.  Sometimes students will confront obstacles and failure.  Let students know that you believe in them, show students that you care about them, and never doubt their abilities.  If a staff can maintain a positive building culture that demonstrates to students that the staff believes in them, no matter where they live, who their parents are, and what they did in their previous classes, students will know that it is imperative to believe in themselves to maintain the positive building culture.  It may sound to good to be true, but a positive culture of belief in a building can do wonders.  

My message to students is clear cut: Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you can succeed no matter what your background and experiences may say to you.  Give yourself a chance to accomplish great things.  Grit and resilience will soon follow.

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