In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as the best predictor of success.  And it wasn’t social intelligence, it wasn’t good looks, physical health, it wasn’t IQ.  It was grit.  Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.  Grit is having stamina.  Grit is sticking with your future day in day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years.  And working really hard to make that future a reality.  Grit is living life like it’s a marathon; not a sprint.  

So far the best idea I’ve heard for building grit in kids is something called growth mindset….and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed.  That it can change with your effort.  Dr. Dweck has shown that when kids read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they are much more likely to persevere when they fail because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.

Angela Duckworth

Our school ends the year on an upbeat note with a Staff Development Day (SDD) conference that focuses on student and staff wellbeing. We returned to the School of Education and the Early Start Facility at the University of Wollongong after a successful conference last year with a renewed focus on mindfulness  with some grit thrown in.

This year we had three keynote speakers who also conducted follow-up workshops. Dr Sharon Tindall-Ford welcomed us and spoke briefly about the context for schools and universities.

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Our first speaker, Tamlyn Phillips, Senior Psychologist Education, Batemans Bay High School has operated in school counselling on the South and Far South coast for 12 years and has been an Acceptance Commitment Therapist, regularly using mindfulness to support healing and growth for the past 10 years. She has worked with the Network Specialist Centres to support the introduction of mindfulness into our schools in order to assist schools achieve the criteria set out in the Department’s Wellbeing Framework. Tamlyn has had one marriage, two teenagers, has zero pets and has a great view of the harbour in Ulladulla. Here’s Tamlyn’s presentation:

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Robyn Zelvis, after many years of working in administration, (and having children) graduated from UOW with a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) in 1999 and worked as a rehabilitation counsellor in workers compensation before undertaking her Graduate Diploma in Education. She worked as a primary school teacher before entering the School Counsellor retraining program. Robyn worked for four years in the Camden/Campbelltown area as a school counsellor and was transferred to Illawarra Sports High School at the beginning of 2014. She also completed her Master of Education (Special Education) and became a registered psychologist along the way. Robyn works part-time in private practice where her approach to therapy is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with an emphasis on teaching her clients mindfulness skills. Robyn does not pretend to be an expert on mindfulness but tries to live her life as mindFULLY as possible. Here’s Robyn’s presentation:

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Sarah Jackson holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Sydney and over the last 16 years has held positions in NSW, South Australia and the UK including, Head Teacher Wellbeing, Senior National Manager-Schools for Australia, Head Teacher PDHPE, Curriculum Consultant and Counsellor, developing online and offline national education programs, apps and tools to support school based professionals to address student mental health and wellbeing. Sarah is currently Head Teacher Wellbeing at James Meehan High School in South Western Sydney and has recently accepted a secondment position with BOSTES from 2017.


Sarah introduced staff to the work of Angela Duckworth and I am very keen to check out her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance which I will read these holidays. Duckworth’s research:

…focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, 2015). On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: Some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty (Duckworth & Gross, 2014).

You may wish to check out how you rate on the “grit scale”.

Staff Awards

An important component of our last day of professional development for the year is to celebrate professional excellence. Our awards, as voted on by staff, were announced to very deserving and respected colleagues:

School and Community Service – Adam Toole

Teaching and Learning – Sarah Imber

Student Wellbeing – Mat Rhodes

Innovation –  Andrew Walker

Leadership – Merrideth McGregor


Congratulations to you all for being chosen by your peers this year as colleagues to be recognised for your work and contribution to the learning life of our school. The Principal’s Award went to both Andrew Walker and Paul Creighton for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Thanks to Kayte Peters for running an inspirational and uplifting group drumming session to send us all into the holiday season!

Have a great break and come back refreshed to do what we do again – even better – in 2017!


One Comment

  1. […] of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth on recommendation from a keynote speaker after our most recent school-organised conference. It is a very affirming read for anyone who did not excel at school – or in particular […]

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