Tuesday morning PD. What a delight. These are pre-dawn (ok, a slight exaggeration…) so I am still in my caffeine-not-yet-kicked-in-zombie state and don’t typically absorb much of anything that’s going on. Today, however, one statement made it through loud and clear.
“Every student MUST receive an award at the end of the year celebratory assembly.”
Excuse me? EVERY student? Apparently so. The Almighty Administration’s (AA) position is that every student should receive recognition for something positive that they have accomplished. Now, I agree that positive reinforcement and praise can go a really long way in terms of motivating a student, but this is taking it way, way, way too far! The AA claim that an award can be as simple as ‘Best Smile’ or ‘Perfect Hair’. In my book, those are superlatives and should be left to places like MySpace, Facebook, or to casual ceremonies that can take place within the smaller classroom setting if the teacher so chooses to do so.
Awards should be for an outstanding accomplishment, preferably something that is difficult to achieve. The only things that should be recognized in front of the entire school should be the highest academic/artistic/athletic/improvement/attendance achievements. Meeting high standards should be difficult, and the praise should be there, but how is it meaningful when everyone gets something? When I got an A in classes where everyone else also got a high grade, it didn’t mean much to me because it didn’t seem like a big deal. I actually tended to think less of that experience since the A’s were just given away willy-nilly. Yes, I said willy-nilly. When I EARNED my A because I worked my ass off for it, I got a lot more pleasure and pride from the accomplishment.
Nevertheless, we were required to create lists of possible awards, match them with potential recipients, and turn them in at the end of the meeting. There are still a large number of students who have not been matched. I came up with a list of my own for those students, and while clearly I can’t match their names here, rest assured that I have a specific student in mind for each of the following:
“Most days spent in the suspension center – 78”
“Most days absent from 8th grade – 93 (!)”
“Most times urinating/defecating in places other than the toilet” (I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it, but it involves radiators and a book bin in the science lab…)
“Most times threatening a teacher without consequence”
“Most fights based on racial motivations”
“Most time spent on office couch complaining of stomach/head/leg/hand/ear/nose/throat ailment”
“Most times calling out with curse words in class”
“Most hours spent pretending to read”
I could do this forever…