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Another important conversation was what to do when things don't go well, despite the relationship. I teach seventy-eight kids this year. I can honestly say that at this point of the year, I feel very good about where we are. That being said, there is always room for improvement.
This week, as I shared before, we have been working on a character sketch. The assignment was actually deeper than that, I wanted to know what their best work looked like. We had multiple conversations about this. I've seen what they were producing. I felt good about it.
Today I looked over some of the work turned in. The majority of kids blew me away. But, as is my nature, I couldn't help but notice those pieces that didn't. There were kids that soared beyond anything I have asked, but a handful fell back on their usual habits. How will I teach them to do their best? Will they ever know how that feels? I began to despair.
Then, I reflected. If I was going to be completely honest here, I rarely put forth my best effort until I was an adult. I didn't figure out my passions, didn't figure out what it felt like to work hard, until much later. I think that is why I try so hard to help them figure it now. It would have been so much easier for me, but maybe that isn't the answer. Maybe some will need to learn on their own. That's hard for me to accept, but I will try.
Teaching reminds me a lot of parenting. There are days where you feel like you've got it all together, you have all of the answers. And then, there are days like today. As with my own children, I share a lot with my students. I share my successes and my colossal mess-ups. Sometimes I know they are learning the lesson. Sometimes I think that lesson might not sink in until some time down the road. And sometimes, unfortunately, it might never sink in. That's a hard concept for me to swallow, so I guess I will keep trying.