You do not have to prove yourself to me. You are enough. You are good enough, as a person, just the way you are now.
As a student, there are some things you need to do. You need to come to class and engage in activities. You need to attempt the tasks set and then hand them in.
Some of the work I ask you to do will be hard. It has to be, so I can see how much you understand and so I know what you don’t understand yet. So I can decide how best to teach you (and the rest of the class) so that you all have the greatest chance of success.
Not getting everything right, first go, does not mean that you are stupid. It does not make you less worthy. It does not make you less important. It does not mean that school is a waste of time.
It means that you are a learner. That you are learning new things. Some of these things are meant to be too hard for some students. This is how I can tell the difference between different achievement levels. And rating students against achievement levels is one of the things that the school system is supposed to do.
Not getting a perfect result does not mean you are not perfect. It is not embarrassing or demeaning. It means that you have gained understanding to a certain level, but that you have not learned everything about the topic. Yet.
Guess what? I don’t know everything about the topics and ideas we cover in class either. But I am a few steps ahead of you (most of the time, anyway!).
This has been a tough week for me. Lots of my students have lots of stuff happening in their lives. Stuff that isn’t about school. Stuff that isn’t even about them. But it impacts on their lives, on their ability to concentrate, on their ability to participate. And it impacts on my life. On my ability to concentrate. On my ability to work. On my ability to support my students.
It makes me wonder what I am doing trying to make you think about the long term effects of acid rain on the phytoplankton in Antarctica. Then I remember: what I do makes a difference. Education makes a difference. Education is one way to get a better life. Education is one way to get some level of control over those things that you have no control over as a child or adolescent. But before education happens, there has to be some stability in the rest of your life. There has to be a level of self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Learning doesn’t happen when you feel that you aren’t good enough, no matter how hard you try.
Not understanding some ideas does not make you any less.
Not being perfect, not doing perfect school work and not understanding everything we do in class doesn’t make you a less worthy person. It makes you a learner. Which is exactly what you should be.
Continuing to try makes you more. Doing your best makes you more.
Being you makes you enough. And if that is enough for you, then it is enough for me. Although I will always try to make you see that you can be more. That you are more.
p.s. Please try to hand in your work, too. It does mean a lot, even if it isn’t perfect.