The Limitations of Teaching ‘Grit’ in the Classroom
The first time I heard a preschooler explaining a classmate’s disruptive behavior, I was surprised at how adult her 4-year-old voice sounded.
Her classmate “doesn’t know how to sit still and listen,” she said to me, while I sat at the snack table with them. He couldn’t learn because he couldn’t follow directions, she explained, as if she had recently completed a behavioral assessment on him.
Months before either of these children would start kindergarten, they had formed judgments about who was smart and capable of learning and who was not. They had absorbed ideas on why some students wrote their names neatly and others broke crayons.
This precocious little girl talked about her classmate matter-of-factly and without any malice in a classroom where the teachers were well-trained and supportive of a diverse student body that was racially and economically mixed.
What the little girl didn’t know about her classmate was that his family life was chaotic, without consistent routines or caregivers. He had suffered some traumas at home, which showed in his behavior at school.
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International research has shown the Good Behavior Game to be an efficient method for reducing off-task behaviors in the classroom, as well as increasing prosocial skills, while long-term follow-ups have indicated positive effects on a wide range of health issues.
As Yamhill-Carlton Elementary School third graders worked on math problem, teacher Kourtney Fjelland watched not only how well they were handling fractions, but also how well they were behaving. Most were concentrating, cooperating, focusing on their work and staying in their seats. In other words, they were exhibiting the good behaviors students themselves suggested and agreed upon earlier in the year, also as part of the PAX Good Behavior Game.
Medication-assisted treatment and recovery services work, but in order for the U.S. population to reach its full health potential, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers need to go on the offensive, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, told attendees at the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference on Tuesday in Seattle.
Every parent wants to see their kid get good grades in school. But now we know social success is just as important. From an early age, we're led to believe our grades and test scores are the key to everything — namely, going to college, getting a job, and finding that glittery path to lifelong happiness and prosperity.