Much has been written recently on the topic of grit by folks much more learned than I am or will ever be. And while I do not profess do know much about the topic, I do believe that I am qualified to skim the surface.
I was inspired to begin my skim after reading Vicki Davis’ piece titled “Can you teach grit?”, found at http://www.coolcatteacher.com/can-you-teach-grit-grit-matters/ . Davis asked her class to define grit on just a Post-It note. Entire articles have been written about this concept and she was asking children to define grit on just a small 3 by 3 inch square. Their responses were wonderful, but then I thought, how would I define grit and could I fit my definition on a Post-It note?
I went long and I went deep to no avail. And then I came up with what I felt like was a pretty good definition of grit.
Grit – a series of “a little bit more” moments.
So now that I have my own definition of grit what good does it do me?
Well, here is the thing. When we are observing someone we don’t know how many “little bit more” moments may have just taken place.
Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and some of our students arrive at school already at 211 degrees. We may not know what it has taken for them to just get dressed and get on the bus.
For some kids just getting to school is an accomplishment. And when the teacher scolds them for not turning in their homework, it may take all the grit that child has left not to talk back to that teacher because they have been up all night taking care of their brothers and sisters and once again this morning when they got them on the bus and they don’t need to hear about not turning in a worksheet that has 25 problems that they already know how to do anyway.
That is grit.
Or, what about the single mom who is raising three kids on her own while at the same time staying up until 1 AM creating lessons that will engage that one student who just can’t seem to master adding fractions with unlike denominators. Simply making it through the school day without losing her temper because she is an accomplishment.
This is grit too.
Grit comes in all shapes and sizes, but it is very difficult to measure and it can be just as hard to identify. But it is important! And we must realize that each person is displaying grit in their own unique way.
More than anything we must remember that it is our job to help our students and staff have just a few “little bit more moments” than they did yesterday. And the best way to begin doing that is by modeling what it means to give just “a little bit more” each and every day.