By G. FAITH LITTLE
In researching perseverance, you may start with a common definition like persist in doing something despite difficulty, or delay in achievement of success. You’re bound to come across synonyms like tenacity, determination, resolve, resolution, staying power, purposefulness, firmness of purpose, and so on. Pushing past definition and into application, article after article will give you the top 5, 10, or 12 ways to persevere in everything from training your dog, to taking a road trip, to growing a garden.
Borrowing from a few of these lists, we can support our students in developing a plan to build perseverance in test-taking through healthy habits. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure story or Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, teachers and students can determine which practices make the most sense for their ways of working.
Here's one version:
Build strength by writing at the beginning of every class period, starting small, and increasing as the semester progresses.
Breathe when you need a few moments to figure out your path forward during the exam. Breathe deeply when you notice that your mind or heart is racing.
See obstacles as part of the process by noticing when you see a problem you’ve had trouble with in the past, reminding yourself, “I can do hard things. I’ve gotten through this type of problem before,” and moving forward one step at a time.
Develop a habit of working by doing homework in the same space or at the same time each day. Consistency not an option because of real-life demands? Try developing a habit within the work, like before stopping homework, make a list of questions you want to explore next time or ask your teacher about next class period.
Take care of your body by stretching during long periods of sitting during class, so when exam time rolls around, it’s a habit to wiggle your fingers and toes, massage your temple, or point and flex your toes when you start getting weary or feeling stress.
Students can mix and match, using lists that already exist, as we’ve done here. Teachers can share their own list as a model – what do you do that builds your own testing perseverance, and what can students take on as their own?
Small groups can brainstorm healthy habits and then connect to what makes the most sense for their own test-taking needs. Whatever the method, starting and building on healthy habits to build perseverance is a practice that students can apply across all content areas, as well as life inside and outside of the classroom.