Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Three Truths...No Lie!

Today I am celebrating truthfulness. On three separate occasions within the span of just a couple of days, students chose to do what is right instead of what is convenient.

After reading the poem "Instantes," (here is a Spanish version: students had to interview three adults and record what the adult would do differently if he/she could return to a younger age. We discussed the answers aloud, each students sharing what their interviewees would have done.

"I would have studied to become a doctor."
"I would have played a sport in high school."
"I would not have sold my Mickey Mantle baseball card."

The discussions were enjoyable, and the students freely shared their responses. I congratulated and thanked them all.

After class, Charlie remained behind. "Señora, I forgot to do the assignment. I made up the answers based on what I think my parents would have said. And I remembered my grandfather telling me about the baseball card he had sold."

Charlie chose to confess the truth without prompting, regardless of the cost, because it was the right thing to do.

At the end of another class, Alex asked to talk to me. "Señora, I think you made a mistake in the grade book. You gave me more points than what you had on the rubric."

Alex chose to reveal a truth that would have been better and more convenient to have kept hidden. He is a hardworking student in a hardworking, competitive (class rank) class. Alex did it because it was the right thing to do.

Early in the morning on the weekend I received an email from Mike. He was disappointed at his grade for the first quarter and he wondered what had gone wrong, or what he could do. It would be his first "B" ever in a Spanish class, and he had missed an "A" by one percent.

I emailed him back, thanking him for emailing with the question, and telling him that I, too, was disappointed because I felt he could have done better. But, I offered him a "lifeline". "Please look back at the project rubric in your Google Drive folder. There are two sections where you have a very low score. Read over them and then let me know honestly if I have made a mistake. If so, I will adjust your grade."

A few hours later, Mike emailed me again. He wrote, "Señora, I see what I didn't do. I didn't share with or correct anyone's slide show...I never found time...I apologize for not paying closer attention to the details of the project and putting enough time in."

Mike chose to admit to a difficult truth, knowing that he was sacrificing a chance at a higher grade because it was the right thing to do.

Moments like these don't make the evening news; they aren't headlines in the paper either. But perhaps they should be. Wouldn't that be a refreshing change of pace?

So, what are my takeaways from these experiences?

  1. Truth and integrity still exist. Never, never, never give up or grow cynical. 
  2. Always believe in and encourage the best in your students.
  3. Some days this job is so incredible I feel like I should be paying to do it! 

I need to celebrate my students' honesty and integrity. Perhaps I should share the stories with my students and colleagues, but I need to do so in a way that does not embarrass them. That will take some creative thinking.

What stories keep you believing in your students?
How can you celebrate acts of truthfulness and integrity?
How have you demonstrated truthfulness and integrity before your students? your colleagues?

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(This blog is a conversation between my good friend (and instructional coach), Mrs. Stephanie Sandrock, and myself. As is often the case, I...