Greater than – expecting more
by Judianne Jayme
I am typing this in my classroom at the end of my final student-led conference with my students’ families. A question I often get is, “How do you do it?” regarding growth that parents see in their kids’ responsibility level, leadership skills and academic achievement.
My answer is simple; I had been aware of it for some time now. “I expect more from them.”
When I receive students in September, we start slow; we build a trust in our abilities and strengths. Once this is set, I remind them that they are sixth graders, the leaders of the school, and younger kids look up to them. I make it clear that I’m setting the bar high for them as leaders, students and citizens of our school community.
You’d be surprised to see how hardworking these sixth graders become as they begin to reach those expectations. They realize that it takes discipline, courage and mental toughness, but anyone can exceed their own goals, and they are encouraged to grow beyond what their own understanding of their skills are.
A year ago I dove head first into my early years of personal and professional growth. I challenged myself, and I now live by example. I teach students that their main competition is who they were a month ago. We are learning about comparing values in math in regards to fractions (greater than, less than, equal to). I remind my students that their responsibility is to be greater than their own records; that true growth is when you celebrate your own journey and how far you’ve come.
Parent tip: Raise the bar
I am working with high school aged girls who, through the Dalagita project, are learning to network and connect with women who are their role models. These girls are between ages 16 and 18 but are showing a maturity beyond their years.
My sixth grade students are thinking outside the box; they are learning by exploring the world around them and taking risks towards their own academic leaps. They understand that their actions make an impact when executed with persistence, grit, and or course, respect.
It’s not wrong to expect more from your children – as long as it is a healthy and attainable level of growth. Too many times I see parents who, with the best intentions for protecting their children, hover and have a set limit of what they believe their child can do. Let your children take baby steps toward going past those very limits. Let them explore their strengths. Encourage and celebrate their growth.
Judianne Jayme is an educator teaching sixth grade and a division-wide mentor in the Winnipeg School Division.