I’ve had some honest conversations with kiddos the last few days. In particular, I have had some heart-to-heart moments with the few who have not assumed the mantle of responsibility as I hoped they might by this point in our journey. Time is moving and they are not. And so, seizing on the opportunity of our face-to-face conference moments, I sought to understand, calling them out on their lack of commitment to their learning in my class. In general, their responses were two-part. First, they apologized–sincerely. Second, they rationalized–predictably.
Their apologies were appreciated but not necessary. I think they mistook my concern for disappointment. And though I’d be disingenuous to suggest that there exists no measure of disappointment on my end, I don’t want my disappointment to be the force at work here. I don’t want them to worry about letting me down; I want them to worry about letting themselves down. In the end, it’s about them. I, as I have stated repeatedly, provide opportunity. They will either make something of the opportunity or they won’t. But along the way, if I recognize that they are not seizing the day, I will nudge them into motion, and if it should be that compunction from my disappointment moves them along, then so be it. But I’d rather it come from them, not me. If they want to save face, they need to move, not apologize.
Their rationales were convenient. Yes, they are often overloaded with school and life. Yes, the 180 approach does reduce the load with its flexibility. Yes, there is some logic behind doing the things first that carry immediate penalties if they are not done. Yes, they are young and are not always going to make the best decisions. But. Regardless the reasons, not doing is not doing. In 211, not doing carries no immediate penalty. But not doing in 211 does carry some long-term consequences. Growing requires two things: practice and feedback. The process of progress begins with doing, and it continues with receiving feedback. Simply put. No practice. No feedback. No growth. And when there is no growth, there will be consequences. And it is here where I attempt to impart some wisdom on my young travelers, telling them that no one looks back and wishes they had done less; in truth, most of us look back at opportunities past, and wish we had done more.
And for these kids in particular, “more”–sadly–is anything, something. And so we bargained. I challenged them to commit to doing half the work. No, I’m not really okay with that, but half is better than nothing. Fortunately, we are talking about a small minority of kids here. But wishing to elevate the bar for all, I challenged those who are doing much of the work to do all of the work, leaning heavily on the fact that there is not a lot, leaning more heavily on the passing of time, and leaning most heavily on the consequence of not reaching growth potential in the coming and quickly passing days ahead. In the end, I just want each moving forward. We don’t all have to move at the same speed, but we do all have to move. Have to.
Happy Wednesday, all.