Monday, June 13, 2011

Do YOUR Best

I was thinking about experiences I have had during Parent/Student/Teacher conferences.  Students in First Grade and up are involved in these conferences to encourage "ownership" of their learning.  If there is something that needs to be addressed that is sensitive and will affect the child's well being, we ask the child to go to the porch for a few minutes.

One conference that comes to mind happened early on in my teaching career.  It opened my eyes to how children take on the experiences that belong to the parent. 

Suzy and her parents arrived for the meeting.  It was Suzy's first year in our class.  Suzy was a good reader and was very proud of that.  She showed her parents work in the language curriculum, stories she had written and books she had read.  Her parents were happy and impressed by her progress.

When I asked Suzy to show her parents her math work.  She turned shy and said, "I am not as good in math, and some of my friends are doing better than I am."  Before I had a chance to tell Suzy and her parents that she was doing just fine and making good progress her mom said, "Don't worry about it, I could never do math and I don't expect you to do well in that subject either."

I was stunned by what I had heard.  Suzy immediately perked up because she had been given a "pass" to not do well at math.  I am sure this is not what her mom intended but these were the words Suzy carried with her the rest of her school career.  My co-teacher and I worked very hard to help her find joy in numbers,  logic, problem solving, and balanced equations.  Every math teacher she had after she moved out of our class found it challenging to gain Suzy's attention.

Suzy was and is and intelligent person.  She graduated from high school and attends college.  I am saddened that she was given an excuse to not discover and internalize math concepts because her mom said she did not hold high expectations in this area. 

The expectations you hold for your child are the expectations your child will aspire to meet.   I have three guidelines in the class.  These 3 simple rules cover everything.  Each one has it's own importance, but the last one is about academics.

Be Kind
Be Safe
Do Your Best

Do Your Best - not your friend's best, not your parent's best, not your older sibling's best.  Do YOUR Best.  Give everything you try the best you have and you will succeed.

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