The Journey of a Student…

I was listening to the radio a few weeks ago and the DJ said something at the end of his segment that sat with me.  It was more thought provoking than inspirational, but it was really a lesson, something to ponder.  He suggested that, “the most important tire was the spare.”
I thought about the purpose of a spare and how instrumental it is to the overall security of my journey and then I thought about the students in my small groups and classes.  The students that I worked with on enrichment, or my high students, could very well be considered my spares. But, instead of considering them the most “important” as all of my students are important, I would remix the message a bit.  I would argue that, “the spare tire helps create a smoother journey.”
As a classroom teacher, the students that are on grade level or above grade level aren’t considered “high maintenance” they are the students that “just get it.”  However, in this climate, when test scores are returning and the indicators Beginning, Developing, Proficient and Distinguished learners are used to brand or describe students, it’s imperative that mindsets be revisited.
In a traditional classroom, your lowest learners receive a tremendous amount of attention and support, while you develop your learners that are proficient in hopes that that development and enrichment is enough to garner those learners the title of distinguished.  Growth and movement in students is always celebrated, but when our lowest learners show tremendous amounts of growth, that celebration is different.  It’s a celebration that embraces both the history and the struggle of the student.
In essence, our lowest performer’s growth is celebrated in a way that links teaching and learning.  I’m pondering if I see my highest performer’s growth in the same way?  My highest performing students just get it.  So, when I see their growth, do I take credit for this growth in the same way that I do those students that struggled?
Because I considered them my “spare” or the students that would smoothly take the journey, when they grow, it’s both expected and celebrated.  However, do I celebrate it as a win for both myself and the student?  I’m not sure that I have in the past because of the expectation of excellence from those students.
The quote was more than a message for me; it served as a reminder!

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