My daughter is thirteen and each morning I send her off to school with some combination of the following advice.
Have a great day. Work hard. Do your best. Learn a lot. Have fun. Be happy. Be kind. Be curious.
If she achieves most of those on any given day then I think it was a good day. I was thinking about this earlier this week when I was invited in to some of our Government classes here at AHS to talk about education. The students were having a fishbowl discussion about education, and our school system, and what changes they might want to make to make it better. Mr. Escue and Mrs. Winn invited in some other teachers (including me) to participate in the fishbowl discussions and push their thinking a bit.
Several things struck me from the conversation, including how stressed many of these students appeared to be. They were mostly stressed by the pressure they perceived they were under to "perform well" and "get good grades." It was a real struggle to direct the conversation back to learning, and what they felt the purpose of high school should be, and away from grades, graduation requirements, and colleges.
As I was thinking about this last night I thought about what I tell my own daughter each day and wondered if she feels as stressed as these students do. It turns out she does feel many of the same pressures, even though she has heard her parents say many times what we feel is important (and can even repeat it back to us). That makes me think that we (as parents) and I (as a teacher) need to do a better job of stressing what I think is important to you (my students) as well as to my daughter. Even though what I say to my daughter each morning is pretty good and succinct, I tried to think of something that might sum it up a bit better in one sentence. This is what I came up with:
Your Good Day Average (or GDA) is more important than your Grade Point Average (GPA).
So I'm going to try to say that a bit more often to both my daughter and to you guys. Because I really do believe that if you work hard, do your best, learn a lot, have fun, be happy, be kind, and be curious - then you did have a good day.
This would be a great conversation to have with your parents as well to see what they think about all of this. What do they - and you - consider to be a good day?