What kind of grades did you get in school? Mine were decent. Although, most of my grades I don’t remember at all. What I do remember is the relationships I had with some of my teachers, lots of my friends, and, of course, the way I felt about my relationship with my parents. Now that I have a career, the grades I had in middle school and high school feel so irrelevant. But some of the relationships I had with teachers are still quite relevant and always will be.
Although I don’t know what my actual grade was in English my sophomore year, I will never forget the day my teacher pulled me aside to tell me how much she really liked a poem I had written. I felt so incredibly capable, and so smart. As a result, I wanted to keep writing!
I also recall a quiet conversation with my Spanish teacher about my failing grade. Somehow I walked away feeling like I wasn’t dumb. Nor did I feel like anyone thought I wasn’t trying hard enough. I concluded that Spanish was just hard and I was going to have to take it again to conquer it.
Then, of course, there are the friendships. Although I have no idea what name and what particular comment belong to which memory, I sure do know how I felt about the way certain kids acted around me and made me feel.
All of these were so much more important to me than grades. My grades were important, but I really didn’t need my parents harping on me if I made a B or an A on an assignment. What I wanted, and needed, was for the adults in my life to recognize and value everything in my adolescent world other than just the grades.
I try to do that for my kids. Sometimes I think they find me intrusive, but I keep trying. I keep trying to send the message that no matter what their grades are, they need to keep their focus on being kind to others and trying their best. I want them to try their best in relationships, as well as academics. Character speaks volume for a person and never goes away. I so desire for my children to develop character that speaks largely about who they are. When they are adults, I hope they look back and remember that I nagged them about things that were important, and I hope they always find that relevant.
What are your memories of school, grades, friendships and teachers? How can you make the most of your memories in empathizing with your child and helping them along the path to success?
*Join the conversation. Please come to our Coffee with the Counselor discussions in the Middle School. Our next meeting is November 24 at 8:30 a.m. in the Middle School Conference Room.