What is hard? Yes. What it worth it? Definitely. [Teaching Grit]

As a classroom teacher, I do my best to teach life-skills in addition to content. I know that not all of my students will go on to be future chemists and computer scientists, but I know that they will all need to know how to work well with others, think critically, and apply creative problem solving. There are some life-skills that seem to lend themselves to being taught through extra-curricular activities, rather than class. Angela Duckworth discusses this concept in her book as well.

This weekend I traveled with my colleague and 7 students to Boston to attend Harvard's Mock Trial Seminar for high school students. Throughout the weekend, I observed my students learning life lessons that aren't necessarily taught during the school day.

Teamwork & Leadership
Over the weekend, the students prepared a mock trial case in 48 hours that we normally would have prepared over 3 months. To make this possible, they had to work together effectively. The students came into the seminar with different goals and levels of experience and had to figure out how to best compliment each other.

Personally, I think lessons of leadership are some of the hardest to learn. Leadership is an uncomfortable position. It requires doing things that others shy away from. Leadership can also be a lonely position. It takes courage and confidence to be willing to differentiate yourself from your peers, particularly in high school.

Passion & Perseverance
These two words are those used by Angela Duckworth to describe grit and I think they fit perfectly. It is an incredible feeling to watch your students fall in love with something that you are passionate about. Every year as I kick off the mock trial season, I am reminded of this fact. This weekend I got to watch students find their passion and start to understand the rewards of perseverance and hard work. It is easier to work hard on something you care about. Finding your passion and hustling on that passion are integral parts to doing something you love successfully.

At the end of the weekend, when they were tired and running out of steam, I asked my students a few questions. I asked them if the weekend was hard. I got a resounding YES. I asked the students if the hard work was worth it. I got a resounding DEFINITELY. My favorite moments as an educator are not when I see my students understand a concept, but when I see them grow as people.


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