Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance…

Peter J. Smith
August 14, 2018

As a teacher, I teach a lot of cognitive skills. These are what one might think of as academic skills: math, history, English and so forth. However, the United States Department of Education thinks that teaching “non-cognitive” skills is just as important.

The skills are called grit, tenacity and perseverance. As the USDOE (2013) puts it, “There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability—that high-achieving individuals draw upon to accomplish success.”

What this means is that students are supposed to be taught to be “resilient in the face of challenge”.  Teachers should make their lesson plans in “a range of proximal learning”.  What this means is that there should be room to grow in a lesson. Making the lesson easy does not promote a challenge. Making the lesson a little harder than your student might understand is a motivational tool. It’s sort of like the “carrot and the stick” metaphor.

If you’re a teacher, do you provide grit, tenacity and perseverance to your lessons? If you’re a student, do you think you are taught grit, tenacity and perseverance?


HERE WE GROW! Cultivating a Growth Mindset.

Peter J. Smith
August 12, 2018

The research surrounding the fixed versus growth mindsets are the work of Carol Dweck of Stanford University, who has written many books on the topic and has put at least two decades of research into it.

One of the very first things I researched at Saint Leo University is the concept of the Growth Mindset, and it the very first thing I tell my students and my teacher-colleagues.

How it works is this. Some people adopt a “fixed mindset”, where they have a belief that their ability and intelligence is limited by genes and environmental factors, and it never changes. The opposite rationale is that their is a growth mindset, where failure is not seen as a bad thing, it’s a learning process. One might not know about something today, perhaps NOT YET.  That phrase is common in the Dweck research.

So it goes something like this. A person could be naturally intelligent, but put forth little actual effort into a project, and not achieve the goal.  A less-gifted person could put forth a great deal of effort, and achieve the goal.  Effort is key to a growth mindset.  This is something that we as students and teachers have to remind ourselves.

There is also research involved in praise, and I will be blogging about that in upcoming segments. But as far as a growth mindset is concerned, praise should not be given for ability or intelligence, but rather for effort.

The staff at can provide training in growth mindset  (or just about any topic) to teachers and students alike via a private sessions at a low, introductory price of just $35/hour.  You can have just one hour or as many as you need. We accept Paypal, cash or check/money order.  For more information, email:



Why A Teacher in Cyberspace?

The education system is moving rapidly forward in the 21st Century, and if you’re a parent, you want your children to have an advantage. If you’re a teacher, you want yourself to have an advantage. If you’re a school administrator, you want cutting edge, professional development for your staff. I can provide all these things, right online, at any time, to anyone in the world.

My name is Peter James Smith. I have worked as a teacher for many years, and hold the following endorsements in New Jersey: Teacher of Special Education, Teacher of English, and Elementary School Teacher.  I have my Master’s Degree in Education, specializing in Instructional Leadership from Saint Leo University.   I am a cohort student in the Educational Doctorate program at Saint Leo University, specializing in School Leadership.   I am an 18-year member of the Seaside Heights Board of Education in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

There are seven domains of Teacher/Instructional Leadership

Domain I: Fostering a Collaborative Culture to Support Educator Development and Student Learning
Domain II: Accessing and Using Research to Improve Practice and Student Learning
Domain III: Promoting Professional Learning for Continuous Improvement
Domain IV: Facilitating Improvements in Instruction and Student Learning
Domain V: Promoting the Use of Assessments and Data for School and District Improvement
Domain VI: Improving Outreach and Collaboration with Families and Community
Domain VII: Advocating for Student Learning and the Profession


Instructional Specialist
Curriculum Specialist
Professional Learning Community Coach
Teacher Mentor
Academic Coach
Finding common ground with Common Core
Multicultural Education Facilitator
Writing/Literacy Coach

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“I touch the future. I teach “-Christa McAuliffe, Teacher in Space (1948-1986)