Students derive pleasure and pride from a job well done by pursuing excellence in all they do. They acknowledge it is their duty and responsibility to do their very best while valuing the importance of effort, taking education seriously, following through on commitments, and working hard.

Key Beliefs:

I will be a better student if I act on the following beliefs:

  • It’s worth it to do my best work in all I do. 
  • I might not be the best, but I will try to be the best me. 
  • There is no such thing as ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’ people, but rather diligent workers and not–so–diligent workers.
  • Praise effort and incremental improvement rather than grades, natural abilities, intelligence, or talent.
  • Establish high expectations, as this increases motivation. Let students know that you are challenging them they have the ability to meet those expectations.
  • When introducing a new topic, think: “This will be a challenging concept to learn, but all of us can reach the goal. I want you to stretch.”
  • Share the ‘best’ mistake of the week, and what was learned from it. 
  • As a student. seek out challenges, set goals and make plans, use creative strategies, and stick with it when you are having difficulty.
  • Reward effort and encourage students to achieve deep learning by allowing them to revise their work (e.g., rewriting a paper using the teacher’s feedback to improve their grade).
  • Let students know that you value challenge–seeking learning and effort above perfect performance and that the amount of progress they make individually is more important than how they compare to others. 
  • Discover a hero/heroine for whom you have a great deal of respect and read about their lives and what it took for them to be what they were.
  • You can work toward the same qualities you respect about other people through diligence in speech, self-determination, and responsibility.
  • Use your Student Planner/Agenda as a tool to promote and advocate for diligence. Also, lessons from Way To Go on Diligence, Learning, Perseverance, and Resilience could be used to have students reflect and apply the desired character traits.
  • “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven`t planted.” –David Bly
  • “All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work boulevard at some point –Eric Thomas
  • “Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.” –Lou Holtz
  • “Nothing worth having comes easy.” –Theodore Roosevelt
  • “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” –Thomas Alva Edison
  • “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” –Beverly Sills
  • “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people, so most people don`t recognize them.” –Ann Landers
  • “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” –Abraham Lincoln
  • “Performance-wise, you really need to be down in the trenches; you need to do the hard work, for a lot of reasons: To build yourself as a performer, to get a sense of the audience, to work hard and to wonder, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ “–Joan Jett
  • “I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” –Margaret Mead
  • “Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” –Arnold Palmer
  • “Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.” –Ann Landers
  • “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” –Muhammad Ali
  • “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything .”–Vince Lombardi
  • “Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.” –Samuel Johnson

A Diligence Quiz:
How diligent are you? For each of the behaviors listed below, write a thorough evaluation of yourself.  I:

  • always do my best; I strive for excellence.
  • am willing to risk failure to accomplish a higher goal.
  • am self-disciplined.
  • learn from my mistakes and failures.
  • look at the big picture; I think long-term.
  • set goals and stay focused.
  • don’t give up just because things seem difficult.
  • don’t leave things unfinished.
  • don’t procrastinate.
  • learn from people who have made a habit of all these things.

Journal Prompts

  • Write about an event in your life in which you succeeded at something which was very challenging. How much did any of the above-listed behaviors contribute to your success? What did you learn from that?
  • Make a chart of the things in your studies that are easy for you and those things that seem difficult. Now write out a plan for what you can do to overcome your difficulties.
  • How has negative or positive peer pressure played a role in your successes and failures?
  • Benjamin Franklin said, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” What does that mean? How true is it?
  • Brainstorm ways in which you can all become more disciplined in school. Discuss the problems students face, such as procrastinating and cutting classes. Make a list of the skills and attitudes needed for students to take more responsibility for their own learning, and to reach their goals. 
  • Select someone in your community who exemplifies the quality of diligence. Invite this person to speak to your class about his/her own background, any obstacles overcome, and the factors that led to his/her success.

Diligence Small Group Activities

  • Break up into small groups, and conduct a survey in your school, asking questions like these: Where do you want to be in five years, in ten years? What are you now doing to get to where you want to be? What are the most serious obstacles that prevent people from accomplishing their goals? Share what you have learned from this process with the entire class. 
  • Research Thomas Edison’s life. See what general principles you can glean from his methods and work habits that you can apply to your own studies. Make a list of these principles, and present them in the form of a bulletin board or as a group report. 
  • Research resources in your school and in your community that will provide support for students who are having difficulty in their studies. Assemble these resources into a folder and distribute them to all class members. Perhaps share this information with other classes.