As an elementary school principal, I was a slave to my calendar, making sure I was in the right place at the right time, constantly task-switching and juggling this and that, all the while searching for time in the day (or night!) to read more about best practices in education. Add a new baby, additional domestic responsibilities, and learning the ins and outs of a new tech integrator’s position to the equation, and it seemed a daunting task that I would ever find ten minutes of solitude to read again!
Enterthe Arias series from ASCD. These short-format books were designed to with the life of the busy practitioner in mind. And with eBook prices as low as $6.99, you can’t afford not to download these titles to your collection. ASCD shares:
Each short-format publication will be 48 pages in length and will answer a crucial and timely “How do I…?” question. ASCD Arias contains original, standalone content that can be read in one sitting and immediately applied to practice. These convenient and succinct publications offer the expertise of education thought leaders, experienced practitioners, and researchers.
The first book I had the pleasure of reviewing was Fostering Grit: How do I prepare my students for the real world? by Thomas R. Hoerr. This book struck a chord with me, because in my last fifteen years as an educator, it’s become apparent to me that we often focus on ensuring children are compliant and successful “playing school” rather than truly preparing them for success in life. Hoerr takes a look at what essential components help our students learn the virtues of grit- “tenacity, perseverance, and the ability to never give up” (p. 1) – and how teachers can support the development of these virtues in our students.
It’s important to differentiate our techniques based on students’ emotional readiness. We spend a lot of time as teachers assessing students academically and using data to inform instructional decision-making, but how often do we encourage teachers to assess our students’ tenacity?
According to Hoerr, differentiating for grit can occur in three contexts:
- process: have students learn in a way that does not come easily for them
- content: take students out of their comfort zones and challenge them
- product: ask students to create original products that demonstrate their learning
Throughout this process, students will encounter obstacles and determine how to overcome them in order to be successful. They will fail. (So will we.) This does not mean we abandon them – at all times, teachers should nurture students’ grit in an environment of care and support. The attitude of the teacher is paramount, and modeling determination is key. Students are often able to understand the role of grit in developing athletic or musical skills, but it’s sometimes difficult for them to make the connection to academic endeavors.
Hoerr outlines a six-step process for teaching grit:
1. Establish the environment.
2. Set the expectations.
3. Teach the vocabulary.
4. Create the frustration.
5. Monitor the experience.
6. Reflect and learn.
The implementation of these steps may, of course, vary depending on the individual needs of students, environment, and students’ developmental levels, but an educator can find success developing grit in his students by consistently using this approach.
The author shares resources such as a teaching grit lesson plan, checklists, the Grit Alphabet, and troubleshooting techniques to help educators embrace this important concept.
If one of your goals as an educator is to help your children persevere to achieve all that they want out of life, Fostering Grit is a must-read for you.
Last winter I was able to converse with William Sterrett, author of Short on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?, to share ideas about how I incorporated technology to support professional development, organization, and idea-sharing in our school. It was always important to me as an administrator to respect the time of my teachers. I find little reason to monopolize teachers’ time before and after school for faculty meetings. Unless a true discussion or learning event is taking place, there are a variety of digital tools that administrators can use to disseminate and share information. Bill features ideas for maximizing the time and learning of administrators and teachers alike in this book.
Bill also shares, through lessons learned by practicing administrators, techniques for mastering your daily calendar, communicating effectively, focusing on instructional time, making time for the whole child, and making a commitment to collaborative growth.
ASCD also features this accompanying resource to help administrators plan for the use of Bill’s time-saving tips for leading and learning.
Create the time to add Arias selections to your professional learning regimen!