While I disagree with competition and recognition (to the extent we've become accustomed to in education), this year the “physics student of the year” award went to an extremely well deserving kid. When I told the other three teachers about his qualifications, they all immediately agreed to let me nominate him. We had about 450 physics students across four teachers, so coming to consensus is often difficult.
JB was nothing but fantastic all year in my class. He wonderfully inquisitive, worked well with others, and was always truly self guided, yet not afraid to ask questions. Basically everything we should want in a student. The problem?
He wants to drop out of school. He hates it. He so obviously smart yet he fails most of his classes because he won’t do the busy work. This has to stop.
He’s an awesome student. His mom loved the way my class was structured and gives me the credit for him loving physics. The truth is, it’s not me; it’s simply caring about your students and putting structures and policies in place that encourage creativity, not just compliance. It’s about rewarding innovation and failure, not punishing it (with grades). It’s about recognizing that real learning is messy, non-linear, and often appears chaotic (at least to most ‘traditional’ teachers/administrators).
Now, as an administrator, I am even more determined and dedicated to make sure classes are structured that support and reward kids like JB. Le’ts not turn our kids off further from education and learning.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.