By Andy Barrand
Oct. 7, 2015
HILLSDALE — “Grit” — a simple four-letter word you don’t hear tossed around many school hallways, classrooms and teachers lounges.
However, step inside the halls of Davis Middle School and you are liable to hear the word coming from the mouth of administration, staff and students.
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, “grit” refers to courage and resolve, strength and character.
The school has embraced the word and is working to change the culture of its building.
DMS Principal Erin North explained the change came from a TED Talks video she found on YouTube.
She said the video was about the word “grit” and how it relates to the growth mindset.
From there, she challenged her staff to read a book on the growth mindset and adapt it to their teaching practices.
“After reading the book, I thought, ‘We could actually use this,’” Betty Griffiths, life skills teacher, said.
North said since reading the book, Griffiths’ has spearheaded the efforts around the school to change the attitude of the staff and students.
“Everything starts with the staff and a change in language we use,” North said. “We are trying to put a positive spin on everything.
“The students have embraced it,” North added. “It allows them to admit when they made a mistake.”
Joanie Peck, a seventh-grade math teacher, said she began using concepts from the growth mindset concept last year to help her students with mathematics.
Eighth-grader Will Drews said embracing the change has helped him when it comes to problem solving in math.
“Now I don’t give up when it doesn’t come easy,” he said.
Gavin LaFollette said Peck lets the student experience some frustration with problems before providing assistance.
Peck said the biggest thing is that the students don’t give up.
Seventh-grade English teacher Laura Wilson has also embraced the growth mindset, giving her students weekly inspirational quotes to ponder throughout the week. With that weekly quote, students focus on what it means to them, while practicing their cursive writing.
Seventh-grader Ashley Rushing said the growth mindset has not only helped her in school, it has also helped change her attitude on the athletic field.
Rushing, who is a part of the school’s cross country team, now has a never-quit attitude.
“I have to believe I can do it and have a positive attitude,” she said.
Griffith said although things are working well at the start of the school year, it takes positive reinforcement throughout the school year to change the culture of the students and the staff.
In her class, she has began to talk with her students about how they can grow their brain.
Her favorite quote is, “I can learn anything because I was born to learn.”
“If you change your words, you change your mindset,” Griffith said.
North said the growth mindset is a new concept that many schools are just now picking up on.