Monday, January 26, 2015

Semester's end and honoring students

Today was the start of our new semester. I would love to be able to say kids came in to a new set up, and that I was raring to go. Unfortunately, Friday was the end of the first semester, and grades were due at 8:00 AM this morning. For the first time since we went to computerized grades, my grades were almost finished when I left here on Friday. I only had one set of writing papers to finish, and the comments to add to that section of the gradecard. I procrastinated all weekend. I blog stalked, read Twitter feeds, pinned on Pinterest, and more. I lived my outside life.  Finally late last night I slapped the last comments down, and called it a night.

I am emotionally wiped out. I just spent an hour discussing with my teammates about our upcoming awards program. Last year we started doing honor roll recognition at the end of each semester. The program is wonderful if your child has one of the top academic honors in a subject area, is an all A, or A/B student. What message are we sending to our RTI students, or Special Ed. students that won't earn one of these awards? Last year I spent an hour on the phone with a parent on the Saturday morning following that first awards program. She was worried her son might hurt himself. He cried himself to sleep every night for weeks following the program. He saw himself as a failure. Another child sat in a fetal position throughout the program, sobbing uncontrollably. She didn't get an award, and knew she never would based on grades. So many of my students in my two classes are great kids, just not the top in academics.

What message should I send my students this year? I could give awards in my classroom separate from the assembly. The other parents would never see them beam as they are recognized for their achievements in behavior, or character, or whatever I deem appropriate. Will that token award be enough to erase the idea of failure from their mind, as I try to get them ready for high stakes testing?

I would love to know if you do an awards program for academics. Do all students get something? Should they all get something? I am looking for some guidance as I try to do right by my kids.

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