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Study Skills: Jenn Charlot

By Lory Hough, on January 8, 2015 3:47 PM
Third-year Ed.L.D. candidate Jenn Charlot speaks about "grit" and what it means for kids.

Jenn Charlot remembers how, as a kid, she wanted to quit her piano lessons. She already had other activities that she loved, like ballet and karate. “I asked to quit repeatedly,” Charlot says, “but my mother never let me.” Turns out that was a good thing. Charlot never became a professional pianist, but her mother’s insistence that she stick with lessons gave her something more important: grit. Now as director of implementation at the Character Lab during her third-year Ed.L.D. residency, Charlot talks about what that means for kids and her job.

Jenn CharlotWhat does grit look like in a school kid? Students who demonstrate grit relentlessly pursue their goals, finish whatever they begin, and stick to things for more than a few weeks. Gritty students try really hard, especially when they experience failure or when they feel like quitting. When frustration and errors happen, they persist.

Character Lab’s mission is to bridge the science of character with the daily practice of teaching. We research the most promising strategies for character development and subsequently help schools integrate those techniques into their daily work.

The director of implementation develops the organization’s strategy to help schools to integrate character development into their classrooms. Basically, when teachers or schools need to know how to use the research in their everyday work, they call me.

In her TED talk about grit, Angela [Duckworth, the lab’s founder] ends by saying we don’t yet have all the answers. And that’s true. That said, in our view, parents and teachers can make headway by helping students discover a goal that they are passionate about and ensuring kids understand that reaching their dreams requires lots and lots (and lots!) of practice. There’s a video on our website where Angela describes some key elements of teaching kids about practice that I find useful: 1) All people who achieve mastery must practice over and over; 2) feedback is a necessary part of practice; 3) practice should be focused with a specific goal in mind; and 4) practice should feel hard.

 ReadRead a longer interview with Charlot.