With the increased challenge for pupils presented by the new Primary Curriculum, GCSEs and A-levels growth mindset, resilience, grit and mental toughness are all in vogue. If you want mental toughness in the classroom then you need mental toughness in the staff room first.
This year saw the start of our work on mental toughness. It has been over 12 months in the planning and we expect it will take three to four years to fully implement and embed. It is our attempt to systematically support all people across the Trust – staff, pupils and potentially a number of parents – in being the best they can be.
The start of year INSET day was about informing staff; we felt the best way to achieve this was to allow them all to complete the MTQ48 (more about this in Sunday’s post and an opportunity for you to complete it and get your own Mental Toughness profile) and discuss it with a colleague, in a safe non-judgmental environment. Mental tougness is more than motivational posts or quotes on the wall. It’s about more than a few teachers saying “…not yet” in response to a pupil attempting to give up. It’s about systematically developing a deep knowledgeable culture that can in turn skillfully support and develop each person; it’s some years off for us yet.
This presentation was given by Doug Strycharczyk.
Mental Toughness describes that aspect of personality which determines how we think and why we behave and feel the way we do.
It is not about being macho, domineering or aggressive. It is about being ….
- The best that you can be
- Comfortable in your own skin
- Accepting that life can be difficult but that it is full of opportunities as well as threats
It fits very well with ideas which have emerged in education over the past 15 years
- Mindset – Carol Dweck
- Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman
- Grit – Angela Duckworth
- Character & Resilience
- Learning Power – Guy Claxton
Arguably the 4 Cs framework embraces all of these in one very accessible piece.
This aspect of mindset assesses; when asked to do something is the default response:
- I can do it …. without necessarily needing to check if it is possible
- I’ll stay in control of my emotions
It is essentially about self belief
When asked to do something to a target do you instinctively think:
- I’ll go for that and I’ll do what it takes or
- I’ll never manage that – I’ll look stupid when I fail.
Together with Control, this describes Resilience. The mental toughness model adds two important elements. Commitment broadly equates to Grit.
When asked to do something significant or challenging is your immediate response to say:
- That’s great – I look forward to stretching myself and taking a risk or
- Whatever happens, I will learn form that experience – good or bad… and next time I will do it better.
This adds a positive element to the previous two scales of Control and Commitment.
When doing something and you face a problem, is your default response:
- I have the capability to plough on?
- I’ll influence others as much as they influence me?
Together with Challenge this converts the notion of Resilience into Mental Toughness.
Resilience helps you to survive, Mental Toughness helps you the thrive.
If you want to look into Mental Toughness in greater detail; two books Doug wrote with Professor Peter Clough are below.