This is from Sanée Bell’s fantastic book, “Be Excellent on Purpose; Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership“:
Students should have rich, relevant, and authentic experiences at school, across the board. If every educator in every school pursued excellence instead of allowing excuses about what students can and cannot do, we would meet the needs of all students. Our goal has to be to create schools where excellence is the standard.
…When an educator is struggling in their craft, seldom do we hear the word “low” used to describe them. We often say they need to be coached up and given additional support and training. We focus our resources, both fiscal and human, on identifying where they need support, and we provide it with fidelity. We monitor and give feedback, and we make adjustments as needed. They are expected to become better educators as a result of this focused, intentional support and training.
But once a student has been perceived to be “low,” it becomes a point of no return. Too often, that label becomes the ceiling for that child.
There is so much that stuck out in this book but the above resonated.
What this quote made me think of is the importance of understanding that “academically gifted” and “smart” are not the same thing. I was an average student in high school, yet I was always in trouble for “talking too much.” I now speak for a living. Obviously, there is an issue when I was disrupting the learning of others, and I don’t blame a teacher for wanting me to be thoughtful of when I used my voice. But that skill that inherently was a strength for me, didn’t fit nicely into the structure of school, so it could be easily dismissed and ignored in pursuit of focusing solely on “doing” the curriculum? I believe that all kids are gifted, just maybe not in the structure of school. When we focus on finding these gifts, it might not only help them academically but will assuredly help them in their lives.
What matters about the below statement from Sanée is not that all students have the same experience, but their opportunity within a school is meaningful and brings out the gifts and talents of every single child.