So what is "grit"? In this context, Grit is the ability for a student to persevere even in the face of obstacles. It's the ability to encounter a problem, and find a way to solve it. This doesn't always mean figuring out a math concept, or solving a science lab, in fact sometimes grit can be as simple as thinking of the correct word while typing a paper, or coming up with a solid answer in class rather than settling for someone else to take the lead.
As a teacher for the past four years, lack of "grit" is one of the most challenging things I've faced. I've had many students who, when given a challenge, completely wilt at the first sign of trouble. Even though I know they have the time, knowledge, and ability to complete a project, they'll waste 35 minutes of class staring at a blank computer because they "didn't know what to click" or because they didn't have a mouse. Rather than finding a solution to solve the problem, they simply would sit and wait for the clock to expire, or the problem to solve itself. Thankfully, the vast majority of my students have the grit needed to overcome challenges like this and complete their work, but it never fails that some bow out early.
Not only do students need to demonstrate "grit", but teachers as well. Education is full of multiple methods, ideas, technologies, and yet many teachers don't like to leave their own comfort zone. I remember being anxious at the prospect of adding a new unit my second year of teaching for fear it would unbalance my well-crafted year-long schedule. After a few years, however, I've become both comfortable and eager to start over when needed, and unafraid to question the logic behind some long standing traditions. There's still a long way to go, but once I stopped stopping at the first sign of difficulty, I realized there are so many more possibilities.
So teachers and students, ask yourself: do you have grit? Are you able to meet the challenges and keep moving, or do you retreat back to you comfort zone at the first sign of trouble? When the students seem confused, do you swoop in and fix their problems or do you allow them to learn to solve it themselves? Do you curse technology the first time the wi-fi connection goes out, or do you find back-up plans to keep the lesson going? Do you switch over to Sparknotes the moment a piece of literary criticism doesn't make sense, or do you re-read? Do you turn to the back of the book when the math is too tough, or do you attempt the problem over and over? Do you find yourself saying "I tried that once and hated it, never again", or do you see if Google Docs has gotten better since 2006? (ok, so that was me)
There's always a million reasons not to do something. Unless you have Grit.