Posted in Current Posts

Gritty Kids

What makes an excellent student?

A thought provoking question that requires a little thought. When I was in grade school, I thought I knew the DNA of an excellent student.

  1. They always finished their work before EVERYONE.
  2. They were fast.
  3. They got straight A’s. Always.
  4. Everything was easy for them.
  5. They NEVER made mistakes.
  6. They effortlessly completed science projects by themselves.

I saw these excellent super-students and I knew I wasn’t one of them. I slogged through my assignments, often the last one done. I wasn’t fast. I never ever received straight A’s. Work wasn’t easy for me—it required editing, rewriting and reflection. Repeat. Sigh.

Then I hit high school, which gave way to college and I witnessed a few of the super students crash and burn. What happened? All the promise. All the potential. Gone.

What were they missing? Some needed piece of knowledge or revolutionary learning method? Nope.

Struggle. Grit. Perseverance. Failure.

They never learned to struggle through hardship to find the elusive answer, hovering just beyond their fingertips. They never had to persevere through writers block or brain cramps. Most importantly, they never learned how to fail and how to get back up after failing and how to grit it out until they finally make it to the finish line worn ragged tired proud.

What makes an excellent student?

Worried parents often ask.

My child struggles. My son has to work hard. My daughter asks so many questions.

Good. They will make it. They are learning what it takes to thrive in real life. So stop trying to make it easy for them. Teach them everyone doesn’t get a trophy. Quit going before your child solving every problem and protecting them from the hardship and struggle that will only serve to make them stronger. Quit using the four-letter “f” word—FAIR. Life is not fair, so teach your kids get up, get going and struggle on.

I’d rather my students be gritty than super smart.

What do you think? What makes an excellent student? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with you!

By Mary Kane

all right reserved. copyright 2017.

Posted in Current Posts

21st Century Classroom

Seventeen years ago, we were preparing to enter the 21st century.

If you’re over 40 you probably remember stockpiling canned goods, bottled water and beef jerky, waiting  for the giant cyber crash, while hiding in your basement (something to do with 100101010 binary computer code stuff I think). It never happened. Continue reading “21st Century Classroom”

Posted in Current Posts, Uncategorized

Projects vs. PBL

We all remember doing projects in school.

Sugar cube igloos… celery sticks in colored water … posters … papier mache stuff (why was this a good idea?). The late nights, the frantic last minute trips to the store for poster-board and tooth picks. The tears. The fits. The frustration. And that’s just the parents.

You know what I’m talking about.

As a parent, the word project struck great fear in my heart. The innocent little word project really means PARENT PROJECT. And science fair meant SUPER PARENT PROJECT.

Projects are an after thought, an add on after the kids have done the worksheets, quizzes and tests. Projects look good in the hallways and they impress school boards, but are they a valuable use of class time?

I admit, I’ve assigned a few projects in my day.

Then I discovered PBL, aka Project Based Learning. Let’s define PBL

PBL is:

  • the main course not the dessert ( John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller  at the Buck Institute for Education 2010)
  • driven by essential questions such as how does the length of an airplane’s wings affect its flight; can taller people run faster than shorter people; or how can we help people who are trapped in slavery?
  • designed to teach core content
  • a learning method that requires collaboration, research, critical thinking and many other higher level thinking skills such as synthesizing, inferencing, analyzing, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting.
  • the creation of something ( an artifact, method, product, process) as a result of a learning experience
  • giving students voice and choice in the learning process
  • reflecting  and making changes
  • publicly implementing, publishing or presenting what was learned or created

PBL is messy, risky and noisy. It requires perseverance, grit and determination. PBL takes time, energy and resources, but the pay-offs are huge.

It makes me wish I could go back to school all over again.

Do you have any project memories from school? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!

by Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2016

http://www.theprincipalsdeskblog.com