What Makes Chess Players?

What skills and traits come to mind when you think of the people who make top notch chess players? Probably some combination of the following: problem solving ability, confidence, commitment to practice, learning from mistakes, strategic thinking, and of course, good sportsmanship and awareness of others. The best chess players don’t chalk up their wins to a lucky day. No way! Chess is truly a mental and emotional Olympics that takes a ton of advance focus and preparation.
Guess what? Those are the same skills and traits that make up put students on a path to success in their current classroom, in college, and beyond. Just like chess, the most successful and consistent students do not “get lucky” on the day of the test. Top notch students engage their minds in every step of the learning and test-taking process, demonstrating actions such as:
  • Actively participating when new content is delivered
  • Asking questions and engaging in independent practice
  • Completing ALL assignments to the best of their ability
  • Learning from mistakes and knowing that it’s okay and important to ask for help
  • Approaching multiple choice with a plan of attack
  • Including specific details on short response questions
  • Reviewing the test AFTER it ends in order to address misunderstandings
As an elementary school teacher myself, I am constantly in awe of ALL of my students, particularly after a year (and then some) of remote learning, uncertainty, and unfamiliar challenges! I also notice that the students who are passionate and engaged in mentally-challenging and demanding activities like chess, sports, dance, and music, are able to adapt and persevere when the content or the circumstances of learning are difficult. They know that success doesn’t happen overnight, that learning and demonstrating mastery of new skills takes practice and a lot of energy, and that oftentimes, it’s important to ask for some extra help. For this reason, I encourage you to keep up with chess! On top of that, next time you’re in class, about to start taking notes on something that you may or may not find as fascinating as a chess match, think about how you can harness the skills you’ve developed for the art of chess! I promise it will pay off, and make learning feel all the more urgent and interesting!
Thank you for the chance to share my thoughts. I am a third grade educator in NYC, and eager to offer my tutoring and homework help services!

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