As many of you know, we had a group of BCPS principals visit our school today to hear about our initiatives and visit classrooms.  The group remarked at how polite and respectful students were, both in classrooms and in the hallway.  They were impressed to see ESOL students helping one another and see students advocating for themselves asking questions of the teacher.  It was noted that students were accessing prior knowledge and taking risks in contributing controversial examples to discussions.  Thanks for your continued hard work in pushing our students.

Whether your classroom was visited today or not, consider the opportunities you provided for students to show grit.  Did you let anyone off the hook?  Was any student able to opt-out?  Did your questions make them really think?  How can you change your practices to keep all students on their toes, engrossed in what you and the content have to offer?

Thanks to Tom, Becky, Wayne, Mark, and LaTonya for presenting to the principals today.  Enjoy this week’s message from Lisa Meyer.  Have a great weekend – Go Eagles!

OMHS has GRIT by Lisa Meyer

Goals, responsibility, integrity and tolerance. As a teacher, what does that mean to you? As a professional we demonstrate these four characteristics in and out of the classroom. We have to be able to walk the walk if we talk the talk. GRIT is not innate in everyone, particularly young and unmolded teens. As adults we may find it frustrating to have to teach these characteristics. More than likely we do exhibit these GRIT characteristics. It can be said that it is a wrestling match between “old school” and “new school.” Should we have to teach GRIT? Is it a teacher’s responsibility or a parent’s responsibility for the children to display GRIT? Accountability/responsibility versus nurturing/spoon feeding. Whatever the reasons and whoever are the ones that convey those life skills, it is done because GRIT is where it is. GRIT equals success. We aspire to have GRIT. We want our kids to have GRIT. So we do whatever it takes. In this day and age of educational reform, teachers and schools aren’t evaluated on caring, just performance based tests. We are charged with teaching knowledge based skills as well as social and life skills. Unfortunately, our students can be successful in school and still flunk life without GRIT. Some of our students don’t always come to school prepared for class, well rested or even well fed. In turn, they aren’t prepared to learn or function in a socially acceptable manner.

How do we as educators help address the needs of our students and the community in general? Because of OMHS’s diversity, the needs of our students are many. Socioeconomic barriers, language and as well as cultural barriers are a constant. There is no “magic fairy dust” to sprinkle on the students as they walk in the door. Teaching is hard. Teaching is challenging. But so is being a teen in 2014. So what do we do? We buckle down, tighten our belts, persist and persevere. We teach GRIT. That is our fairy dust. We toss it out there every day every period all over our 950 students. We even sprinkle it on each other.

How and why do we do it?   It is our passion. Teaching isn’t just what we do, it is our life. Have you ever socialized with teachers? Teaching is the topic de jour. We live it. We do it with gusto. We teach, reteach, emphasize, model and reward GRIT. We start with goals. Students need to learn how to set goals. Short term, long term, a few days or a few years. Goals and goal setting need to be measurable, attainable and realistic. Goals give us hope for the future. They give us something to dream about. They are the building blocks and direction to the future. That being said, the most important aspect of goals is the willingness to put in the hard work.

Take care of your own business. Responsibility. Do what you need to do. Be consistent in your responsibilities. It doesn’t take a 2400 on the SATs to be responsible. Be punctual, show up, do what you need to do. Give 100%. Get it done. We don’t need all of our students getting perfect SATs or getting admitted to all the Ivy League schools (although it would be nice!). Vanilla ice cream with a few sprinkles on top tastes pretty good too. To be honest, I think most teachers would rather teach a student that gives 100% but isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed rather than teach a brainiac that is indifferent towards school and his/her responsibilities. As a coach, give me a blood and guts player with little talent anytime over a top flight athlete that is a head case. A million dollar body with a ten cent head is frustrating and doomed for failure. The saying of “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” leads right into the I in GRIT of integrity. Doing the right thing. Doing the right thing when no one else is looking. Doing the right things for the right reasons.   Have the self satisfaction that you did it right. No need to broadcast what a fantastic thing you did if you are the only one that knows. Be okay without the notoriety. As adults and professionals we don’t need accolades. Students do need a boost every once in a while, hence the GRIT tickets. Hopefully they do the right thing for the sake of doing it right not just for the tickets.

Tolerance; be respectful of others differences. The world we live in is filled with many more differences from our own than similarities. Different doesn’t mean wrong, it means different. Be respectful of differences. Our students bring varying experiences to our school. We need to learn to appreciate and celebrate these differences.

If we are tolerant, we show integrity. If we show integrity we are being responsible and therefore fulfilling goals and our students will be “self-advocating, lifelong learners who are prepared for an ever-changing global landscape.” OMHS will then be a place where we are “building a culture that fosters intellectual integrity with challenging academic expectations and empowers seekers of new knowledge.” Through GRIT, all things are possible. With a willingness to work hard, take responsibility, do the right thing and be respectful, success in life is all but guaranteed regardless of test scores.

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