I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I wasn't always the best student. In fact, my middle school principal knew me by first name, this was odd because we had a class of like 400 students. I'm sure many teachers thought I wouldn't amount to much, my grades were poor, I talked too much, and I was probably too feisty. To tell you the truth, I had doubt in my ability as well. Luckily, I had someone to give me the support and guidance I needed.
I've been reading a very inspiring book lately, Poor Students, Rich Teaching: Mindsets for Change, by Eric Jensen. He does a great job of taking research-based, effective teaching methods, and he gives teachers tools to apply these in their classroom. For example, he states, through the research done by John Hattie, that building relationships with students is extremely effective. Then he gives tools that teachers can use in their classroom to develop relationships.
One method Jensen discusses is SEA this stands for strategy, effort, and attitude. These are basically different statements that people can make to show their support to others. Strategy would include comments like “I like how you tried various ways to solve that problem.” Effort comments would be, “I like how you keep working hard to find a solution to your problem.” Finally attitude statements are like, “Keep the positive mindset and you’ll be able to accomplish this task!” Essentially, it helps students to work on accomplishing challenging goals. Luckily, my dad was my personal cheerleader, often times incorporating SEA methods in our conversations and probably not even knowing that he was doing it. I think about this often; without my dad doing this, I may not be the man I am today. Thanks Dad!
Without things like SEA in our schools, some students may not be able to have enough grit, or perseverance, to work through challenges that they're faced with to accomplish goals. Why is this important? Recent research by Angela Duckworth found that grit is more effective at determining successful people than IQ tests. Here is her short Ted Talk video that gives a brief synopsis of her research.
How do we do this in schools? It can be as easy as guiding students to set challenging goals, tracking those goals, and using SEA along the way.
When was the last time we measured grit within our students? Recent research has found that this can be the leading factor in determining the ability of our future generation to succeed. Shouldn’t this be in the forefront of our instruction? Finally, remember to tell ALL your students, or people in your life, that you have their back; you are in their corner! After all, it’s all about the kids!