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Increasing Effort Stamina in the Classroom

Effort Stamina

I recently attended the Happy Go Teach conference by Jen Jones of Hello Literacy and Kayla Delzer of Top Dog Teaching. (See my conference insights and take-aways here.) This conference is so engaging, I didn’t even have time to take notes! But, I did manage to write down two words in my notes app on my phone that I knew were worth revisiting at a later date: Effort Stamina.
I had never heard this phrase before, but I instantly loved it. The idea of “effort stamina” is based on teaching students perseverance rather than stopping short and saying “I’m done” – a common classroom phrase!
The process of building any type of stamina is a long-term commitment. You can’t just run a marathon immediately, you have to train your body and work up to the end goal.
As you can imagine, effort stamina works the same way. As educators, we have to do two things for our students in order for them to be successful in developing effort stamina:
  1. Set the expectation of what level of effort is acceptable as a learner in the classroom
    • Explain what “effort stamina” is and why its important
    • Provide a real life story or read a book about perseverance
    • Model what effort stamina is and isn’t (allow students to play along too!)
      • Example: A student working out a difficult math problem by erasing and working… and erasing and working… to find a solution
      • Non-Example: A student getting frustrated with a difficult math problem and skipping it on their paper, avoiding the hard work required to complete it
    • Create effort stamina posters and place around the room as a visual reminder
  2. Require students to build up stamina to that expected level on a daily basis
    • Set a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goal with the students for effort stamina
    • Project a timer that all students can see during independent work time
    • Be transparent about effort stamina milestones (ie. read/write/work in 5 min increments to start and build up to 10-15 chunks for a few weeks.)
    • Post an effort stamina thermometer outside your classroom to showcase to staff and students the growth of your students’ learning habits
    • Praise students on-track and provide gentle reminders to students who are off-track
    • Consistently encourage students to meet the class effort stamina goals while allowing students to hold each other accountable too
    • Celebrate progress, no matter how small

When we lay out our expectations, model the end result, and hold students accountable each step of the way, it increases the likelihood that students can reach the goal. We as educators are helping children develop healthy learning habits so that they can go out into the world and be productive citizens, using their gifts to bless the community in authentic ways. Helping students build effort stamina is a foot in the right direction!

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How do you increase the effort stamina of your students in your classroom? 

About the author, Gretchen

I am an educator, passionate about cultivating talent in aspiring and new teachers through practical tips and strategies. My blog, book, and podcast are geared towards empowering teachers to enter the profession and stay there due to the advice and encouragement I provide. We have a real need in our nation for strong leaders in classrooms, and I believe its my calling and duty to coach teachers to achieve and maintain best teaching practices in order to drive the growth and success of our students in and outside the classroom.