Saturday, December 7, 2013

You Don't Need Much Time to Teach Students About Grit and Perseverance

Cultivate Your Own Story to Share

The first story I wrote, the second one I published, is titled A Humid Night. I submitted the story over twenty times before it was finally published by the small magazine Literal Translations.

Why did I submit it so many times, even after another story found a home so much faster? 

Because I believed in that story. I believed in its honesty, I believed it was good. I had also read numerous stories of perseverance from other authors and learned that if I did not believe in my work, then there was no reason for anyone else to believe in it either.

I share that story with students because I want them to develop a belief in themselves, a belief that a creative life is rewarding, and that anything worth achieving in life is going to require struggle, conquering self-doubt, a zealous passion for their work.

Short Videos to Make the Point in the Now

But I also realize my students are preteens and teenagers. I have been teaching longer than most of them have been in existence on this rock. So, what do we do for those students who have great ideas, but don't quite have the skills, or "the chops", to pull off their vision?

I share a few words of encouragement.  Even at their age, they are making strides in creating habits and skills that will allow their talents to shine.

Public radio personality and producer Ira Glass offers some profound words on the struggles that confront those who live the creative life.

This is a short video that all students should watch.  The message is don't quit when you face adversity, keep working. Education often stigmatizes failure and the message that we, as educators, often inadvertently send to students to "get it right the first time or else!"

A few years ago I was in a session on creativity with Janet Aaker Smith.  She shared a video about being stuck on an escalator.  It is a great metaphor for taking action towards making success happen.

And, if you have students who ask how to succeed in life or you just want to be proactive, this is the perfect twenty seven second video to show how people are responsible for their own success.

All three are powerful words of encouragement for our students as they engage in a creative life. 

Short Videos to Make the Point in the Future

It is true we are living in a society that wants things exponentially faster than ever before, that includes the recognition of success. But what is lost in our microwave society is the knowledge that most overnight successes take about ten years to achieve their dream. The article from Business Insider titled This Is How Long "Overnight Success" Really Takes is a reading you might want to share with your students.

After talking about the article you can share this nice two part series by Delve about The Long Game and the argument that Leonardo Da Vinci's success did not come from his genius but from his commitment to his craft, his willingness to iterate.

The Long Game Part 1:

The Long Game Part 2:

The conversation about grit and perseverance is important but we have to think about the conversation from a number of different perspectives. 

Students know us, connect to us, so our stories should be first because they ring with honesty and passion. We also need to share inspirational messages to show how much control students have over their success and how their journey depends on each step they take. Finally, we need to show them that it is okay if they stumble, they have to be in it for the long haul, that is what grit and perseverance is all about - forgetting your story has been rejected twenty two times because twenty three just might be the magic number.
For more in depth lesson ideas order a copy of Stand Up! Speak Out! The Social Action Curriculum for Building 21st-Century Skills available from Prufrock Press and Amazon and Barnes & Noble