"To move step-by-step toward a goal."
Persistence is the determination to persevere through hardships, resistance, and even opposition to achieve a desired outcome. To enact persistence, one works steadily and, step by step, continuously seeks ways to overcome challenges. A persistent person maintains a positive mindset and acts proactively.
The word "persistence" originates from the Latin word persistentem, which means 'continuance, perseverance.' This, in turn, is derived from persistere, meaning 'to continue steadfastly, endure,' which is formed from the prefix per- meaning 'through' and sistere meaning 'to stand,' hence giving the sense of standing firm or continuing steadfastly despite challenges.
Discussing persistence is crucial for students as it helps them understand the importance of persevering through challenges, a key skill for success in both academic and personal pursuits. Social and emotional learning is enriched as students develop resilience, self-management, and a growth mindset — essential qualities for navigating life's ups and downs. Ultimately, fostering persistence empowers students to approach challenges with a positive attitude and a determination to succeed, which are fundamental for their overall well-being and development. Here are 10 activities for the classroom to help reinforce the importance of persistence.
Set goals and monitor progress: Have students set a challenging goal related to a skill they want to improve or a task they want to accomplish. Regularly check in on their progress and encourage them to persist despite challenges.
Prepare activities that instill a growth mindset: A growth mindset teaches students that abilities can be developed through effort and learning. Foster a growth mindset in your classroom and empower students to tackle challenges with determination and adaptability. Prepare activities that instill a persistent attitude in your students, such as solving puzzles, journaling, or problem-solving experiences.
Teach them that failure is a learning opportunity: Have students share a time when they failed at something and what they learned from the experience. Discuss the importance of persisting through failures.
Talk about the biographies of persistent individuals: Have students research and present on individuals who demonstrated persistence in their lives (e.g., inventors, activists, athletes, etc.).
Engage students in puzzle and problem-solving activities: Provide challenging puzzles or problems that require persistence to solve. Discuss the strategies they used and how they felt during the process.
Teach students the value of positive, supportive people: Remind them that the process of overcoming challenges can be discouraging, but with the right people, they can thrive through hardships. Take this opportunity to discuss with students the value of meaningful connections.
Ask students to record their success stories: Motivate your students to keep a journal of their success stories when they persist through challenges. With this activity, they can remind themselves that with a little persistence, they can achieve their goals.
Review and present historical events: Have students research and present on historical events where persistence played a key role (e.g., civil rights movement, women's suffrage, etc.).
Conduct science experiments: Conduct science experiments that require careful observation and recording of data over an extended period. The goal of this activity is to test students' attitudes on challenges.
Ask them to list their motivations: Discuss with students that having reasons for achieving a goal can help them persevere through obstacles and setbacks. Listing their motivations can help remind them of why they started and why they should continue to push through challenges.
These classroom strategies are invaluable for cultivating students' persistence, a quality that is indispensable in their academic and personal growth. By fostering a mindset of resilience, dedication, and adaptability, educators empower their students to surmount obstacles and strive for excellence in all their endeavors. Persistent students are better equipped to succeed in the ever-evolving landscape of education and beyond.