Monday, January 5, 2015

"You can only do your best. That's all you can do. And if it isn't good enough, it isn't good enough. " Imelda Staunton

I recently heard a wonderful Children's Sermon at my church, and the lesson made a lot of sense, not only for the kids, but also for just about everyone I know.  The lesson was about how we view things in life.

The actual quote for the lesson was "As you go through life, make sure you look at the whole donut and not just at the hole."  Clever, right? So often, when we are faced with a small problem or when things are just not going our way, we tend to focus on only what is wrong, and we completely miss what is right in our lives.

What can we learn from that quote when it comes to Education? As a teacher for 37 years, I sat through so many parent meetings in which the parents were very down on their children, and I often had to be the child's advocate.  (Yes, I also sat through many meetings in which the parent thought the child was perfect.  I will save that for another blog.).  I must point out that in many cases, these students were good students, from nice homes, well-mannered, involved is sports and other activities, and really trying their best.  However, the parents were disappointed in the child's performance. For those who do not know, the Academics at North Allegheny are quite difficult, and even the very best students spend hours on homework and projects.  Under parental pressure, many students schedule all Honors and AP classes, which is challenging in itself, even before adding sports and clubs and jobs and boyfriends/girlfriends to the workload.  Although I am a proponent of high expectations and excellence, I am also a proponent of recognizing effort and work ethics.  Sometimes, parents place ridiculous standards on their children, both in Academics and in sports.  As a golf coach for 33 years, I saw first hand how some parents were reliving their own lives vicariously through the lives of their sons.  I actually had  players lie to their parents about their golf scores (before the Internet posted all scores) because the parents would be angry if the golf score was too high.  High school sports programs should provide a place to learn and to form friendships, and a place to grow and mature, and a place to have fun and have challenges.  High school sports should NOT be used by parents to measure a child.

As a teacher, you will encounter these kinds of parents.  Please be sure to point out the good things about the child when the parents are focusing on the negatives.  There is nothing wrong with being a "B" student when the child is doing the best he can.  There is nothing wrong with playing on the JV instead of the Varsity team if his talent is not extraordinary.  All children have special gifts, but not all children have ALL gifts. I am thinking back to so many students through the years, both in the classroom and on the golf team, who were completely down on themselves because their parents were down on them, no matter how hard they tried.  I always felt it was my job, as their teacher or coach, to tell them they were so much more than what their parents told them they were NOT.

You see, I saw the whole donut, and their parents only saw the hole.

Make sure you see the whole donut in your students and your own children, and let them know their efforts and positive attributes are appreciated.  You know how good you feel when your efforts are appreciated.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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