being a teacher, punishment, reflection, rewards, students

Please Don’t Tell Me to Pick

image from etsy

“…Please pick one or two students…” my heart freezes as I read the email.

Don’t make me pick, please.  Don’t make me single out one or two students, even if it is for recognition.  Why?  Because I don’t just have one or two students who deserve to be recognized.  I don’t have just have one or two students that have been representing our classroom well.  I don’t just have one or two students that are above the rest.  I have 27 students that all through the year have proved people wrong.  I have 27 students who all through the year have given me their best, even when they had no energy, even when they were lost, even when life threw one obstacle after another at them.  I have 27 who deserve special recognition, maybe not for the same things, but they all deserve the praise.  they all deserve the acknowledgment that their journey through 5th grade has mattered and has made a difference.

So please don’t ask me to pick just one or two students.  My mind cannot do it.  And neither can my heart.  These kids all deserve to be recognized, all for many things.  So please don’t tell me I have to pick, I won’t do it.

I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

11 thoughts on “Please Don’t Tell Me to Pick”

  1. I teach in the tri-culture, New Mexico. I used to teach in a face-to-face Masters of Education program. The College recognized the “best” student in each of the College’s programs., Each department-program was asked to select their “best” student to be recognized during graduation. M., a female Navajo student, approached me saying that she was selected to by our department head to represent the best student in the program. Her sister and brother-in-law were also in the program, graduating with her that Spring. She expressed concerns stating that in her culture, one person is not recognized as being better than the rest in ceremonies like this, that she felt very uncomfortable and disrespectful of her relatives if she were to accept the award. She also stated that she did not want to insult or disrespect our department head. I spoke with the department head and another student was selected. This story-incident has remained a strong one in my memories . . . and as you stated in your blog, I cannot-will not choose a student (or teacher – referring to the social media awards for educators that have become popular) as being better than, more than his or her peers.

  2. Thank you for sharing that story Jackie, I struggle so much with rewards/awards/recognition for students and for myself. I always feel that when we single one person to be the best, they stand on the shoulders of everyone else. I can call it a representative of all of the incredible people, but I don’t believe it. When we pick one person (or even two) we dismiss everyone else’s achievement.

  3. I am torn regarding recognition ceremonies. I agree with you in that all students deserve to be recognized for the things they do day in and day out, but I also see the merit in recognizing those who go above and beyond. If you ask those students though I doubt that any if them do it for the recognition so why bother with the big events? Maybe we all just need to be sure that we recognize what others are doing on a daily basis and let them know that we noticed.

  4. We must find ways to tell & celebrate the stories of the successes and growth of every child. We can do it! Awarding a select few is not our only option. Together we can figure this out! Thank you Pernille for writing this!

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