Empowering our students with the skills necessary to overcome adversity is crucial to their success, not just in school, but for the rest of their lives. Too often students quit playing a sport, give up on a difficult assignment, or drop out of school because it is just “too hard.” As educators, we see the obstacles our students face; poverty, loss of a parent, being taken out of their home, addiction in the home, abuse, homelessness- just to name a few. Each of which can be devastating and ruin students’ life chances, if they allow them to do so. That’s why it is so important to teach students to overcome obstacles and adversities because those lessons can have a life-long impact.
To arm our students with these skills we utilize our homeroom time, House meetings (see our blog from November 1), and teachable moments. Specifically, we will share inspirational stories from ordinary people who have overcome major hurdles, provide direct instruction on seven characteristics of “overcomers”, and model the skills we want our students to learn.
During an upcoming homeroom lesson, students will review the story of Joe Rantz. He faced abandonment, poverty, and homelessness and overcame it all to go on and become a gold medal athlete. The story is taken from the book, The Boys in the Boat, that we have challenged our faculty and students to read this year. We will also share the story of Beck Weathers who overcame a perilous storm while climbing Mount Everest. He was exhausted, out of oxygen, blinded from effects from the blizzard, separated from his group, and was deteriorating quickly. Rather than giving up and dying, he focused on what he had to live for, kept walking, and persevered until he eventually made it back to safety. It is imperative that students understand that real people have faced debilitating difficulties and overcame them by relying on skills that can be learned and practiced.
Finally, we will teach our students seven characteristics that we believe will help them become overcomers. While I am sure there are more, we have chosen to focus on these seven important skills. They are as follows:
- Passion – Identify what gets you excited? What do you love? What would you be willing to go the extra mile for?
- Hope – People who overcome obstacles have an attitude of hope. When you work hard for something or achieve something in spite of adversity you experience a sense of accomplishment and victory.
- Resilience – Endurance through the difficult times is built by experience. When you push through pain and adversity you are building your strength to make it through other challenging times.
- Lack of Self Pity – Everyone hits hard times at some point in their lives. Feeling sorry for yourself or wallowing in self-pity makes it difficult to move ahead. It is important to work through situations, put things in proper perspective, and keep moving forward.
- Set Goals – What do you want to achieve? What is your dream? Write it down. Picture yourself achieving the goal. Review your goal often and share it with others (parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, etc.) who will encourage you.
- Self-discipline & Perseverance – Once you set your goal, create a map of how you will get there. When you face adversity or feel like quitting, how will you push through? Work harder, work longer, never give up. Success requires discipline and hard work.
- Commitment – Follow through with what you say you will do. Be relentless in pursuing your goal and working toward making it a reality. Everyone makes mistakes or experiences failures, it is the those who learn from their mistakes or failures and are committed to getting back on track who are successful.
Our students will face many obstacles in their lives, but arming them with these seven important factors to overcome, teaching them the beauty of things not coming easily, and cheering them on in the difficult times could have a lasting impact. “Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.” William Arthur Ward
This blog was written by Dr. Connie Franklin. Dr. Franklin has over 20 years in education with 15 years as a school administrator at the middle school and high school levels. Before moving into administration, Dr. Franklin taught business education and was an instructional technology specialist.