Annie Pendrey, FE / HE specialist

GRIT in the #FE Sector - #COVID19UK

During this very difficult time for all educators and our community facing the threat of Coronavirus, I felt compelled to put pen to paper or rather fingers to a sanitized keyboard and acknowledge the ‘grit’ of the Further Education Sector.

As most educators begin to prepare for distance learning strategies, to communicate much more online with our learners and support them to learn remotely, it could be purported that for many of us this is a new mode of learning.

This mode of learning was not what most of our learners ‘signed up’ for or as tutors did we envisage, but what I do believe it has done is create tutors who have become learning developers who are displaying true ‘grit’!

What is true 'grit'?

Grit is a topic spearheaded by Angela Duckworth and believed to be a trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance.

As educators, passion is that internal commitment to ensure our learners access learning materials, become part of an online community, receive feedback and above all are motivated to complete each task and the course.

In addition to passion is the trait perseverance, having the perseverance to set learners tasks, power points and reading materials that allow them to work towards and complete a goal.

So whilst none of us know how long this turbulent time will continue for it is fair to say that the FE sector is already displaying grit, passion and perseverance to learners who will potentially miss the face to face positive reinforcement that naturally occurs in our learning environments.

This leads us to question:

  • How will we ensure our online platforms give learners those intrinsic and extrinsic motivations they require?
  • How will we ensure our learners self-motivate themselves as they face large amounts of time without structure and contact from their tutors and peers?

Characteristics of true 'grit'

In order to scaffold and motivate our learners the FE community have already begun to share resources with each other online and display five more characteristics of grit:

1. Courage

Characteristic one is courage, this characteristic is currently being demonstrated by teachers up and down the country supporting learners emotionally and academically. In turn, tutors are facing their own ‘fears’ and displaying the courage to develop their own technological skills in order to produce learning materials.

2. Conscientiousness

The production of these materials shows conscientiousness, the tutors inner drive for learners to achieve in both the short and long term.

3. Dependability

 

Conscientiousness sits alongside dependability, having a tutor who a learner can depend on to mark their work, answer their questions both subject and non-subject related in these difficult times.

4. Endurance

This is where endurance, another characteristic, is exhibited and one which I believe is part of the FE tutors DNA. Within the classroom, as educators we all display endurance every day but in this current climate the challenges we are faced with requires us to show much more endurance as we communicate with our colleagues, managers, learners, exam boards and wider institutions to ensure the quality learning experience we strive for remains.

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5. Resilience

Finally, one key thing all FE educators have is resilience. Resilience is having the capacity to adapt in the face of adversity.

So many of us have already demonstrated this with the construction and application of different pedagogical approaches using our creativity and communities of practice to support the learner journey, but much more than this the FE educators and sector will continue to display GRIT and ‘bounce back’ and finish the journey we all started with our learners back in September.

Annie Pendrey, FE / HE specialist

Reference: Duckworth, G. (2016) Grit: The Passion and PerseveranceScribner: New York

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