If you’ve ever wanted to witness perseverance in action, all you need to do is look to the animal kingdom. Our natural world is brimming with creatures who have learned how to overcome incredible odds using nothing but their patience, creativity, and grit. Consider this video of a baby bear who takes a tumble down a mountainside but manages to get back up through sheer determination. Or what about these leopards who meticulously work out the best way to catch their food? If you want a good laugh, watch this hilarious story about a honey badger who absolutely refuses to stay put in his enclosure.

These animals remind us that everyone is capable of learning and growing so long as they never give up. With a new school year underway, there has never been a better time for teachers to reaffirm this message in their classrooms. However, like any discipline, perseverance must be practiced regularly before it becomes second nature. Here are just a few strategies that teachers can use to foster a mindset of risk-taking and perseverance in their students:

  • Perseverance Timeline: Show students how humanity learns over time – just like they do! Post all the first attempts at creating a flying machine on one side of a board. Post a jet airplane on the other side. When students attempt an engineering design problem, have them post pictures of their first trials on the board under the flying machines. Have them post their best solution under the jet airplane.
  • Explain Your Reasoning: Students each have different ways of thinking through a problem as they work to solve it. By having students share their thinking and explaining the rationale for doing so, it encourages students to try new ways of solving a problem. It is also a great way to determine true understanding. Even better, sometimes they’ll arrive at a wrong answer – and it will lead to an opportunity to emphasize the importance of failing forward.
  • Mistake of the Week: Show your students that mistakes are the KEY to learning. Have students nominate one mistake that really helped the class understand something more clearly. Collect your class’s favorites and display them on a bulletin board, in the hall, or virtually in Google Classroom or Padlet. Show off those errors!
  • Models of Inspiration: Provide models of perseverance for your students: post pictures or quotes from people who persevered through challenges to accomplish their goals. (Athletes, inventors, world leaders, etc.). These examples remind students that success rarely comes without failure and perseverance. It also has the added benefit of teaching students about some amazing people from history.

If you found these ideas to be helpful, be sure to check out the Blue Apple Strategy Explorations – a free resource that can provide educators with a variety of creative, practical ideas for the classroom. You might also want to check out the latest VAI webinar, where VAI Teacher Jon Oosterman shares how educators can kick-start a classroom culture of perseverance by equipping students with the tools they need to tackle the school year with a “can do” attitude. Above all though, remember to find your inner beast. Be as bold as a baby bear, as creative as a stalking leopard, and as dauntless as a honey badger. You and your students have the determination to make this a phenomenal school year – so let’s hear you roar!

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