In our article in the Summer 2022 issue of Educational Leadership, my colleague Ann C. Holm and I…
I’ve been writing about how effort and perseverance without capacity and readiness simply aren’t enough. (Check out my past posts on grit and effort.) They’re all interdependent. Ignore either side and you simply won’t get where you want to go. In fact, they make up a polarity, an energy system where both “poles” hold part of the truth, yet are incomplete without the other.
I once watched with horror as teachers were pressured into ignoring readiness and only focus on effort. Someone in a position of power dictated, “I don’t care how far behind your students are in understanding fractions. You will not remediate. You will accelerate, diving in just where the curriculum for their grade level says they should begin. They’ll be empowered by your confidence in their ability to catch up with their peers. They’ll learn the fundamental concepts as they master the more complex tasks. Any teacher who remediates will face consequences.”
So…in an environment where at least a third of the students labeled “?” in this diagram as 1/3, their first lesson involved adding fractions with unlike denominators. At the completion of the unit, in spite of help sessions and extra practice and online tutorials and peer tutoring and you name it, a third of the students convincingly failed the unit test on fractions. They weren’t ready to learn what they were being taught.
Whether you’re leading adults or students, figure out the questions you need to ask that will answer, “Are they ready? And, are they showing good-faith effort?” Companies and schools alike might consider,
- Is everyone’s understanding of the goals the same as yours?
- Is the environment you’re creating supportive enough of everyone’s social, psychological, and physical (diet, exercise, rest) as it might be?
- Do they have the resources, including knowledge, to succeed?
- Have you been strategic in what they are being asked to do or are you asking them to do more than is wise in the time available with the resources you have?
The answers to these questions may trigger some big changes. But ensuring that goals align with reality is one of the best ways to serve those who are counting on you.