Maybe it’s “Grit”

Freshmen can benefit from so many pieces of information during their first month of high school. Getting a handle on lunch, the location of rooms, the nuances of schedules that are sometimes altered, the homework load, Homecoming, joining clubs, and digesting the details of high school. The list is a mountain of small details that will be mastered by most in the coming weeks.

But what should we actually teach them about high school? What should the adults in this building focus on? What can we as a Freshman Academy highlight so they accelerate in their understanding of what it takes to succeed in high school.

I know from research and from experience that students are maturing and can be more receptive to ideas about school success. What was useless and pointless six months ago can find application or finally hit home.

I regularly see students that are not completing their homework. I see students who lack the skills for sitting down and muscling through a difficult tasks. Yesterday I floated the idea of “grit” (see link below) thinking I would get no response from my packed room of students who had not completed their homework. They listened. They leaned forward and wanted to know more about it. I was stunned.

Ted Talk on Grit – Angela Lee Duckworth

After that lunch, I created a new grid for why homework isn’t done. It can be one of three things: Bad Day, Bad Information, or No Grit.

A day later I test drove this list with my students who had missing or late homework. They were interested enough to argue about it. They said there were other reasons that a student doesn’t do homework. I asked them to give me some. Their answers thus far could all fit into one of these three categories:

Bad Day – Just that. Something happened to keep them from completing their homework.

Bad Information – They don’t know how to do the assignment. They don’t have the paperwork necessary or they lack some other vital piece for completion.

No Grit – They don’t have the desire to finish. They stop, give up, lose focus, and never return to the task. They have no grit.

Awareness is helpful. Giving students who are struggling with high school homework a grid through which to see their decision-making may increase their ability to reflect and then solve the nettlesome problem homework completion.