Effort vs. Ability

“Effort vs ability” is that belief that all children have the raw material to do rigorous academic material at high standards. Teachers who hold this belief know that children’s learning is primarily determined by their effective effort and use of appropriate strategies. Teachers recognize that “intelligence” is not a fixed inborn limit on learning capacity.These teachers systematically create a classroom environment that emphasizes student effort and deemphasizes the notion that native ability leads one to know content without “engaging in the hard work of studying, thinking, trying, correcting, and redoing.” (Haberman, 1995; Saphier, et al, 2008).

MTR teachers believe that it is not a child’s innate intelligence that guarantees success in the classroom, but their effort in completing a goal. Senorita Daniela demonstrates the fine line between effort and ability every day in her middle school Spanish classroom at Power Center Academy. Her students grade themselves on effort, engagement, and participation after each class and student presentation. Did they track the speaker? Did they use active listening strategies? Senorita Daniela says that when her students knowhow to give effort, they are prone to participate more freely, which increases their ability to perform at a high level. The students who ranked themselves high on participation and effort scored higher in accuracy and comprehension. Senorita Daniela’s students understand that effort is far more important than ability!