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Students in your math classroom work on new, challenging material. For those students who struggle, you may notice that some are quick to give up, while others embrace the challenge and keep working in pursuit of understanding. You may accept this as simply differences in personality. Some students can stick with it, and some can't: that's just how it is...


Grit, or the ability to persevere in the pursuit of a goal, is a characteristic that can be nurtured and embraced by everyone. By promoting the benefits of grit, you are embracing a key component of growth mindset.

Watch this marvelous Ted Talk by Angela Duckworth, where she discusses a common trait among successful learners of all ages:

What if you tried this?

The challenge is to transform your mathematics classroom into a space where students can practice drive, resilience and the joy that mathematicians experience. In the video Grappling with New Concepts, teacher Giselle Isbell helps her students develop self-reliance and grit. Here’s what she does:

  • Instruct students to work independently on a problem. This is called ‘grapple time.”

  • Remind students to use manipulative and visuals as a way of deepening their construction of the problem.

  • Ask students to share their process of problem solving.

  • Reference routines that foster reflection.

Change Isn't Easy

Promoting a culture of grit not only helps our students long term, it inspires them in the moment. They realize hidden strengths and the satisfaction that comes with stretching their limits. It takes time, and it doesn't come naturally in some cases. But by establishing grit as part of your classroom expectations, you can help give your students this important tool for success.

Here is one more great video on grit that you can share with your class.

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