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Grit in Action

Grit in Action An Article showing how one Primary School teacher in Leicester is planning to use Gritty learning with her class.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Grit Mindset Success Mistake Failure

Naoimh Campbell is a Teach First student currently working at Braunstone Community Primary School in Leicester. Like all TF students and teachers she has to learn fast and be gritty about the challenging journey of accelerated, school-based professional development. But Naoimh is going an extra mile and exploring how Gritty Learning can enhance not only her own progress but that of her pupils. Here's her story so far:

The What? The How? The Why? And The Who? of the Class 14 Grit Brigade

The Autumn Term has passed in a blur of planning, marking and assessing for a first time teacher. There was also, some time in mid-November, a vague and disjointed attempt to introduce the concept of grit to my children and to cultivate ‘growth mind-set culture’ in my classroom. The impact has been minimal, I think the most notable outcome has been that the children say ‘yet’ more; which although a step in the right direction is hardly going to propel my class to the dizzying heights of an outstanding academic accolade.

This apparent failure could be attributed to my sheer enthusiasm coupled with a relative lack of subject knowledge about grit, or an attempt to keep one too many plates spinning at once. Whatever the excuse, something had to change.

So, in the spirit of a true ‘Gritster’ I asked myself; What would a Resilient Rhino do? and I tried again… …this time taking a more calculated approach:

I need
to define grit for myself and the children
I need to unpick my motivation for creating a class of ‘Gritsters’
I need to consider how best to introduce it to my children and support staff
I need to ask myself, when in my life have I had to show grit?

And so began The Grit Diary


I did research. I read about grit, I watched grit, I discussed grit and created my grit; the brand of grit I wanted to perpetuate in my classroom. I decided what I wanted. I want my children to experience failure. I want them to take risks. I want them to tackle unfamiliar tasks and have the confidence to attempt them whilst facing a very real possibility of failure rather than choose a safer option with a lesser reward. I want to equip my children with the skills to fail well so that they can succeed more.

Grit and high achievement are intrinsically linked; even more strongly correlated than high achievement and high IQ. The children in my class are able but lack confidence and resilience; I believe this holds them back from achieving their full potential. Resilience is unknown and failure scary. It signifies the end of their learning process, when they fail they stop. But I know how gritty they can be and I'm going to get them using their grit with their learning.

I want them to succeed academically and to have happy and successful lives. I believe that by teaching them grit I will be equipping them with the skills for both.

I need to quantify and celebrate grit. The children will be rewarded with small pieces of actual grit (goodbye marbles in a jar) when they show a special amount of resilience, when they opt for tasks outside of their comfort zone and when they fail, dust themselves off and start again. These pieces of grit will go in the class grit jar which when full will entitle the children to a grit afternoon. These afternoons will be filled with activities that none of the children have attempted before. The children will need grit in order to succeed in these tasks.

Each Friday the children (and I) will reflect in a Resilience Record. We will reflect on the challenges we have faced, whether or not we have succeeded and, if not, what we are going to do next. The children will be able to look back at how far they have come, the idea being that something they may have struggled with weeks ago could now be easy or they could be one step closer in reaching their long-term goal.

Each week one of these entries will be photocopied and placed in a frame on my desk for others to see. This entry will denote, specifically, effort, resilience, tenacity and grit. The person who wrote the framed entry will win the ‘Gritster of the Week’ they will receive a certificate and can wear a lanyard (if they want to) for the following week so that other staff members can congratulate them.

My Teaching assistant will be asked to read and contribute to these plans, as will any cover staff. This will hopefully lead to a conjunctive approach when it comes to establishing a grit culture in the classroom. Hopefully their effort and grit examples will lead to a sharing environment whereby the challenges of every member are acknowledged, accepted and appreciated.

About Me I think grit is so pertinent to me because of the path I have chosen into teaching. As a Teach First participant I feel like I have at least ten mini failures a day; the whiteboard won’t turn on, I photocopy the wrong resource, the children can’t access what I am trying to teach them, I forget about a meeting, the observation bombs. I have had to become a more resilient person. I try to turn failure into good failure, a failure I learn from.

I am using grit to fulfill my long term goal. I understand what it is like to want to give up, to consider that maybe the challenge you are embarking on is just a step too far, to wish you had chosen an easier option. I also, thankfully, understand that anything worth achieving requires time, effort and grit, this is the message I am trying to convey to my children. I am modelling grit to them every day by where I am in my career at the moment.

Looking forward…

Through this reflection I have organised my thoughts and aspirations for grit coherently. I've planned for a more consistent and measured introduction to my children. I am hopeful that this time I will be more successful, but if not, I’ll do what the Rhino does and; Get up, dust myself off and try again. Either way, I'll let you know.......

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