With facing the stress of giving semester exams on top of changing learning modes between remote, hybrid, and all-in, it was essential for me to help my students stay calm and focused so they could try their best on the exams we were asked to still give this year. We’re all having conversations with kids that we’ve never had before, but the following question about class averages is one I’m all too familiar with, and one I love to discuss with the class. On this day, it was a wonderfully “normal” moment for me in the midst of the chaos, where I could remind my students of what’s really important – their own positive, personal progress.
At the start of class today, a student asked me about the class average on the exam they took the day before. I told the class this: “Folks, I never share the class average, and here’s why: in my class, we focus on our 3 P’s – Positive Personal Progress. Your pride and success should be solely based on your own improvement, never compared to the work of others. Let’s say all year you’ve been getting 80% on each chapter test. For 3 chapters in a row, you get an 80%. But for the 4th test, you come get extra help from me, give it all you’ve got, and earn an 88% on the next test. You’re feeling fantastic – your hard work has paid off and you feel the pride and fulfillment of your success and improvement. But then I walk in the next day and share that our class average is a 92%. How do you feel now? We are not going to judge ourselves based on those around us. We’re going to focus on improving ourselves every single day, and ignoring the rest.” That student who originally asked the question then turned to his friend and said, “I wish my science teacher felt like that.”
I have that speech memorized from giving it so many times over the past 17 years, and I love it every single time. But with everything being so hard this year, hearing that student wish his science teacher felt the way I did was just the boost I needed. It was a great moment and a testament to the power of the 3 P’s.