Conferences never cease to amaze me. Typically, we spend two nights a year meeting with parents to discuss plans for the year, student behavior, and student progress. The conversation generally starts with a highlight of the student’s grades and their academic performance. I work hard to keep things as positive as possible, unless there is an imperative need to discuss the negative in more detail. Most of the time, parents whose student requires a greater focus on negative behavior never show up anyway, which I still struggle to understand. The only thing I can determine is that these parents just don’t want to hear one more negative thing about their child. As a parent, I guess I understand that. As an educator, I want to work with parents to make positive changes in their child’s life.
As I contemplate on that, I think about my Victor. You may remember Victor from a previous blog post. I spoke to him about changing his behavior to demonstrate the greatness inside of him rather than the behavior his friends and even some adults expected of him. I talked with him about being confident with regard to his academic ability as well as his leadership ability. I assured him that it was okay to be a positive role model rather than a negative one and that in doing so; he could be just as popular. Well, Victor has made great strides since that conversation in December. Don’t get me wrong, he still has some work to do, but what is certain is that he needs someone to continuously remind him of his greatness and to keep it movin after every accomplishment he makes, otherwise, he will lose sight of his objective. Therefore, when Victor is off task or pulled in the opposite direction of his greater ability, all I have to do is say, “Greatness”, and he responds appropriately. Since our conversation prior to winter break, Victor remains on task during instruction most of the time. I rarely see any pouting when he is working in class and he even completed his winter break homework. He has not been sent to the office for disruptive behavior and has even joined the school’s Safety Patrol program. His potential is more than apparent but my hope for him is to just remember that he has to keep pushing. He has to…keep it movin!
More recently during conferences, I met with a father who, first, was not required to conference for his child, and second, had not confirmed a time to conference for his child, so I wasn’t expecting him. Murray’s father, who speaks limited English, came to see me simply to check on his son’s academic and behavioral progress. Murray is far from the typical description of a “behavior problem”. In fact, he has made the Merit Roll this quarter and has become very detailed in his work. He does however enjoy socializing quite a bit, which does become a distraction to his learning. For the most part, though, Murray is right on track. His father expresses how proud he is of his boy, then looks at me and tells me that he always tells his son that he can be whatever he wants to be and that he wants him to do better than he did himself. Of course he does. It’s what every parent wants for their child, right?
Murray has three other siblings, two older and one younger. They are all performing at or above grade level academically, so father is extremely proud, as he should be. Murray is listening to his father proudly and intently. I look at him and confirm that we are all so very proud of his accomplishments this quarter, but explained that he still has work to do. Even though he has worked hard to earn these grades, I explained, “You have to keep it movin!” It’s at this time I ask Murray to recite a couple of lines from our Scholar Statement. I ask, “With hard work, you can do what?” “Anything.”, he responds. “With hard work, you can be what?” “Anything.”, he responds. “And who is in control of your future?” I ask. He responds, “I am!” I add that it is not too early to begin thinking of his future and that he cannot get comfortable with the success he has made this quarter. I tell him he has to keep it movin. I maintain that he has to continue working hard to make the grade, so, “You have to keep it movin!” I tell him. His dad nodded in agreement and appreciation for the reiteration as our conference ended.
What is ironic about this entire conversation is that my pastor had just spoken on the topic of “keeping it movin” in that past Sunday’s sermon. He explained that attaining success in anything does not stop once you reach a set goal. Once you reach your goal, you keep it movin and set a new goal! How profound is that? You see, in the past, “keep it movin” meant, go away, get a life, get to steppin’, and leave me alone! But, now, in a more positive connotation, these few words could have powerful implications on us as educators as well as on our students. This phrase has helped me to define perseverance for my students in a different way. In a way they seem to better understand!
As educators, we face many challenges. We are charged with the task of determining the academic needs of anywhere between 20-30 students. We assess each one, individually or as a group, frequently, at their individual level, at many times throughout the year. We assess and monitor our students in a variety of methods in order to predict their possible success on the state assessment. Sometimes, the things we do work. Sometimes they don’t. The fact of the matter is, however, that regardless of the outcome, it is at that point that we make the conscious decision whether to keep it movin or not, when in reality, there should be no decision to make. As they say, it is what it is. When our students master a skill, keep it movin and challenge them to master the next. Even when they don’t master the skill, we need not give up on their ability to succeed, nor should we focus on what may appear, at that particular time, to be our inability to reach our students. Instead, we need to keep it movin! Remain focused on our purpose. Remember the commitment we made to children the moment we decided to become educators. Check your approach, change your instruction, and keep it movin! Students inability to master a skill does not indicate an unwillingness to learn, but rather necessitates a different way of teaching in order for them to receive it, process it, and finally, to master it. It is an opportunity to define our instruction and make it better. So, instead of giving up, keep it movin! When students master skills beyond their ability, it does not mean your job is complete. What it does mean, is that you have more work to do! So, keep it movin! It’s our duty and obligation to push our students beyond their seemingly confined limits. It is our job as educators to determine just how far we can push. Therefore, you have to keep it movin!
Listen, no matter the level of success, no matter how big or small their dream, we have to help our students see that even when they reach one goal, another goal is waiting in the ranks. Once you acquire one accomplishment, keep it movin…on to the next one! In like fashion, we as educators need to model how to set goals and persevere through barriers in order to reach them. We need to show our students what can happen when they keep it movin. So, get out there and get busy. There is no time to waste. There is still much work to be done. So, go ahead! What are you waiting for? Keep it movin!!