acheivement, award, being a teacher, grades, students

What I Pass On to My Daughter

After reading an excellent article discussing the danger of praising children on their smarts, my husband and I ended up discussing our own method for raising our daughter, Thea.  After a while, I commented, that I hope I am not one of those teacher mom’s that is hard for her teachers to deal with.  The one that is too over-involved because they believe to the core that their child is smart, funny, articulate, and creative (not gifted, just normal smart).  My husband was kind enough to let me know that he would help me control myself but then posed an excellent question; what if our daughter is just like me?

Most people would jump for joy if their children turned out just like them.  And sure, there are many qualities that I wish I could just pass on to Thea.  I have a pretty good sense of sarcasm and humor, I love abundantly and loudly.  I am honest to a fault (surprise!) and I work very hard at my goals.  I am a nurturer, a believer in people, and a devoted friend, wife, sister, and daughter.  These are all fine qualities that I know Thea will have as well.  However, there are things that I hope she misses out on from me and instead takes after my husband.

You see, I am an overachiever.

Ever since grade school where my mother was told I needed to apply myself, I have had a very twisted view of education for myself.  Not only is it something to master, but it must be conquered, slayed, and nullified for me to be pleased.  I went through college working full-time and taking 18 or more credits every semester.  I was that student that always raised their hand, always had an answer, or even worse an opinion.  I was past the point of really caring whether others liked me or not, I was there to get a good grade – an A – and nothing else.  And I did.  I ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA.  No one was prouder than myself.  I thought I had done it, I was on top of the world with my diploma and my drive.  My family was just thrilled that this maniacal journey was over.  See no one really cares what your GPA is once you graduate. They had explained this to me before, but still I was relentless.  I pushed myself so hard that I had a panic attack before leaving for my honeymoon because of a science exam.  I worked and worked, always trying to get it just right, making it perfect, and for what?  A diploma?

So when I think of qualities for my daughter to inherit, being an overachiever is not something I wish for her.  In fact I don’t wish it on anyone.  Instead, I hope for her to have fun with learning, to realize that grades are not the end all, that the award is truly the learning journey and not the end result.  I carry this hope for my students as well.  I want them to experience school as a place to explore and gain knowledge, not to join a race to the top, always pushing for better grades and more rewards.  I want to stop the insanity before it becomes so infested in their soul that they end up like me; pushing themselves to perfection and forgetting to enjoy the journey.  What luxury it is to get an education, isn’t it about time we teach our students to enjoy the ride?

Which qualities do you wish your children or students get or do not get?  What would you change?

award, being a teacher, rewards

I’m a Loser

As the Edublog Award ceremony train passed right through my station tonight without an award or acknowledgement, I couldn’t help but feel like a loser. A big loser, in fact. It wasn’t that I had expected to win or even place, I am much too Danish to ever think highly of myself, but sometimes you let your imagination run away with you for a split second.

So there I was tonight, where I should be occupied with my insane 23 month old daughter, the surgery I am having tomorrow, or my husband who worked a 12 hour day. Instead, I found myself having a little pity party and it was sad to say the least. In fact, it was so pathetic that it made me think of why I have grown to despise awards in my classroom. You see, I felt like the outsider tonight. Like I was not cool enough to be recognized or even mentioned. Like the kid that sits along at lunch hoping someone will strike up a conversation. Like the kid that no matter how hard they try for the teacher to notice them, they just fall short.

So what is it with awards that can get even the most levelheaded anti-award teacher to behave like a love-stricken teenager hoping for their first kiss? Is it really that we just want someone to say we notice you? You make a difference? You work hard? We believe in what you do? I don’t know. Because really those things are said to me by the amazing members of my family, friends, and my PLN often. Do we just not believe it when it comes from people that know us? Must it be from total strangers to feel like proper recognition? Or is it the group recognition? Of being given an award in front of others so that they know how important you are? I am still trying to dissect my emotions and find myself again. The one that doesn’t have a ridiculously bruised ego, the one that feels like they belong and that others care. Either way, I am moving on, proud of my nomination, eager to add the winners to my feed, and strengthened in my resolve to not have awards or rewards in my classroom. After all, if a 30 year old teacher that knows better can get this silly over a missed reward then imagine what it does to a kid. Lesson learned again.


Best New Blog Nomination

EduBlogs nominations are out and somehow my blog has managed to go to the next step of the nomination process for Best New Blog .  Honored, dumbfounded ad just a little bit shocked are all great words to describe this. I do not expect to win, after all, have you seen the list of people I am up against, but grateful to be placed in such excellent company.

So check out the nominations, cast your vote, and be heard.  Thank you for all of the support, I don’t know how I managed to sneak into that prestigious group.