I will make that trade

I am never sure how to put my thoughts on the page when there are so many ideas bouncing around up there. I find myself wanting to make sure I write this perfect post. That is clearly laid out that is grammatically perfect (probably already failed at that) and that reaches my millions and millions of fans and changes the minds of educators everywhere. Well maybe not so much the last part but the whole “wanting the post to be perfect” is a real struggle.

I am so passionate about everything I do, working out and getting up every morning at an outrageous 4:45am, this ridiculous 100 push up a day challenge, reading wonderful books, getting my students to love books and reading even half as much as I do, writing and getting my students to see how amazing reading and writing work together. These things I am so passionate about but some times the quest for perfection interferes with what I am passionate about. I want the perfect lesson so I take time from my passions, I want to write the perfect blog post or make these profound observations about books I am reading and I forget the fun, I forget the passion in a pursuit of perfection.

I am noticing more and more kids are developing this need for perfection in their own work and losing their passion for learning or worse yet never developing one. This week for example I have had students write essays as we learn different techniques and try to frame our thoughts in a more organized manner. Really exciting stuff I know but the concerning thing was the response my students had when I complimented their writing. After celebrating a great topic sentence or a catchy hook I expected a smile or a sense of pride beaming out of the student, maybe Rainbows and a Unicorn or something, small stuff, instead I just got, “Thanks but how good of a mark will I get?”… I try to float the idea of not worrying about grades and am looked at like I have the scurvy we just talked about in Social Studies.

If I could I would make a trade. I would trade that sense of needing perfection for a sense of wonder. I would trade that seemingly unbreakable grasp that keeps students from pursuing passions over getting the “best” grade, for an understanding that you might not have gotten 100% but you learned that you are more interested in one way of learning than another. I would trade a curriculum based on performance for one based on individuality. I would trade report cards for conversations and percentages for outcome based assessment.

As teachers we need to start teaching our students that their passions are more important than a percentage. If that means more time conferring, giving feedback and coaching and maybe a little less time to mark those “perfect” papers, I will make that trade.


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