∑ every interaction

Me with StudentEvery interaction with a student is an opportunity.  Every interaction adds up to a deeper relationship with a student, creating a lasting bond.

The importance of each interaction became transparently clear to me today when a student quoted something I had said to her over two years ago.

“Remember that day I felt really stupid and you said, ‘We all have ways our brain lights a fire. Let’s find your spark.’  Whenever I struggle, I try to find my spark. I found it today.”

Now, I doubt that I said something so eloquently, but apparently I said something that stayed with this student.

I consider myself lucky that I teach 6th – 8th graders, continuing to see students for three years.  I see the growth in my students and form relationships that grow deeper and more mature over the years.

We may never know what words will stick with our students, but we can keep the idea that our words are precious in our hearts.  Every interaction is an opportunity.  An opportunity to find a spark, to spark a match, to light a fire.


growth > grade

Thirteen faces looked at me.  Some incredulous. Some confused. Some angry.  I had just told my pre-service educators, students on the precipice of student teaching, that the project they turned in needed to be redone using the feedback they received.  These college students were to redo their first major project for my class.  One girl raised her hand and asked, “Was this your plan all along, or were our projects that terrible?”  A second student tentatively asked, “How does this effect our grade?”

Contrast this scene with earlier in the day.  I’m working with 6th graders, students half the age of my college students.  One boy, Willem, had just turned in a podcast. After listening to about 30 seconds, I noted about two positives– excellent images and strong use of academic vocabulary– along with three issues– sound quality, lack of a script, and lots of filler words.  After writing down these strengths and areas for growth, Willem looked at me and said, “Oh, okay! So I’ll do it again and bring it back.”  Therewas no frustration. No confusion. Nogrowth over grade anger. Just a sense of true learning for growth.

In creating a culture of learning, iteration must be a key component of learning.  Iteration leads to growth.  Iteration negates the idea of “one and done” learning.  Iteration provides an equitable option for all students to keep proving their mastery of the content.

When growth is the goal, the culture of the classroom looks and feels much differently than when the grade is the sole focus.  How do we lead with a focus on growth more than the grade?

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