I have a hard and fast rule in my classroom. Any student who tries and shows any effort in class will not fail. I will make sure of that.
I don’t expect perfection. I recognize the district I teach in. And even if I don’t know all of my students’ stories, I can recognize that it might be tough being them. Things might be rough at home. They might have gotten no sleep. They might not have had food. There are so many things that I don’t know. I’ve talked before on how perfection is overrated, and I still believe that’s true. As long as my students are doing most of their work, they will pass my class.
This principle can be applied to in most parts of life. You should always do your best. But your best doesn’t always mean perfection or the best ever.
There’s a saying of “You never know until you try.” I think some people are so scared of failure that they refuse to even try or display some effort. You can surprise yourself a lot simply when you try. You’re capable of a lot more things than you know.
In addition to surprising yourself with your talents, you may also find that some things are easier than you first anticipated them to be. I know with my students, there would be times they would look at an assignment and complain that it was too much. It seemed to them as if it would take the whole class time and then some to get the work done. But, more often than not, when they start the assignment, they find out that it’s easier than they expected. All it took was some effort.
To finish out the year, my students had a big project. They had to create a country. It’s actually one of my favorite assignments. I’ve gotten a lot of really cool results when they’ve applied themselves. Here’s the thing though. At the onset, it looks like a lot of work. They have to do a Basic Fact Sheet with a lot of components, a writing component, create a flag, and design a map. I explain the project and I’ve seen many eyes widen in fear. However, I break it down for them so they only have a couple components to do per day. And you know what? They think it’s really cool, and it usually turns out a lot easier than expected.
I’ve also found that once my students actually do the work, it usually turns out pretty well. This year, every student that turned in all four parts of the project received an A. Even if they struggled on one part, it still works out. I also have safeguards in place for if my students decide to partner up for the project. This way, the effort and work is more even. And actually, I had to implement that guard this year. I had a student “partner” with another student on the project. The supposed partner did maybe one component and put both names on it. The other three components had just the one student’s name. So the one student who actually put effort into the project received an A, and the student who attempted to “partner” received a C. I gave some credit, but I couldn’t reward effort I knew did not exist.
I know this post is mainly gives examples from my students, but this is something I’ve seen and have been building on all year. The year is winding down, and I’m finalizing my grades. And if my students are close, I’m looking at what effort they’ve given me this year. If I see the effort, I’ll do what I can to make sure they pass. But if the effort isn’t there, then they won’t be rewarded. A coworker of mine has a rule in their classroom that is “Give respect to get respect.” And honestly it’s a similar principle. Give effort to get results.
I can’t stress enough how overrated perfection is. But in many, if not all, scenarios, it’s important to at least put forth effort. It may end up taking you farther than you planned to go.