Monday, March 17, 2014

When Our Students Know They Didn't Measure Up

I recently applied for a promotion, was interviewed through two rounds of interviews, and found out today I didn't measure up. How does that feel? It's disappointing. It's embarrassing. It hurts. It makes you think about where you are now and how that's all changed because of the process. It makes you wonder why you wasted the time preparing or how you could have prepared differently.

My thoughts today, though, aren't so much about me. What I wonder is how do we provide our students, some of them barely past babyhood, to roll with the punches of growing and learning? How do we provide the tools for our students to prepare well for learning, to accomplish the learning, to alter the course when the learning comes slowly, and to keep on trying when it just feels like you just don't measure up?

What does a test score or a bad grade feel like to a student? How does it feel to set goals, to work hard towards the goals, and then come up short? Some would call it grit--You must just keep trying and trying and trying. You must ignore your classmates who seem to learn so much easier, who get the good grades, and accomplish their goals. You must keep your eye on the ball and continue to do whatever it takes to get there, right?

But what if you continue to fall short? What if your score on the data wall is always lower than what you want it to be? What if you work as hard as you know how on the assignments, and you still don't get the grades or results that you want? What if your test score indicates you probably won't be successful in college? What if you reach the point that you decide it's just not worth it, that there isn't any way you can do what they're asking you to do. What then?

I think we better be spending more time on the relational skills, learning skills, and coping skills of our students. It's not enough to work on standards, take tests, work on assignments, set goals, and prepare the journey to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Being a valuable person is so much more than that. It's what's in your heart. It's how you treat others. It's how you show pride in your school. It's continuing to learn, even though it's not your style of learning and the assessment doesn't really measure all the important variables of the learning.  It's knowing where to find the information you need and how to use the information to improve. It's loving the journey despite the fact that it rarely leads to where you initially wanted it to go.

What I posit is this:

We better be emphasizing the whole child and the development of the whole child, or we will continue to leave a whole lot of kids behind who need more than just the information we try to pour in their little minds.

I'm an adult who's weathered many experiences. I shall survive coming up short. However, are we really making sure our students have the tools to do the same?

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