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Grit, Rigor, Stamina, and other cool ed terms

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November 2011

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Every industry loves its jargon, and education is no different.  There are “best practices” touted all over to ensure your students are future-ready and becoming 21st century citizens.  And then, educators discuss the rigor of instruction and assessment, student stamina, and the word “grit” is even thrown into educational conversations.  

I’ve been a professional educator since 1998 (I was a child prodigy, ahem).  My first job was teaching first-graders.  I can still remember many of those students by name and with their cute six-year-old faces in my mind.  Here’s the thing: I had high expectations for all of my students.  Even as a first-year teacher, I believed in each of them and their potential.  My curriculum and instruction was modified (differentiated, to throw another edjargon term at you), and I would say rigorous for all of my students.  As I increased my experience, my instruction got better.  My expectations remained high for my students, and I was never disappointed once when a student left my classroom at the end of the year.  Those kids had stamina and grit and I didn’t even have to teach them how.  Did my attitude, instructions, and expectations naturally nurture those qualities in my students?  Probably.  Guess what else?  They were all ready for the next school year.  They were future-ready. Wait for it – there’s more.  They are all (and have been for the past fifteen years) 21st century citizens.  So, while I agree with where education is headed (and I better since I make my career out of it!), I don’t think the basic premise is different.  Good educators want to teach their students to learn, and to enjoy it.  We can throw around jargon, but it doesn’t change the heart of education….to create lifelong learners.

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