Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Being the Best

Last week I was able to take Phi to school and sit in on her class. I went because over spring break her report card came in, and she got her first B+. It was in math and in the comments the teacher wrote "Sophia is having trouble with division". I was concerned because her grade had dropped and the only issue we had run into was with division but there had only been one weeks worth of work. I brought my concerns up to Phi's teacher and I asked her what we would need to do to bring up Phi's grade. Instead of answering my question she said to me....

"Maybe it's time she learns she can't be the best at everything"

I was completely taken back. I think I literally laughed at her and explained that at 3rd grade there is no reason that Phi cannot maintain straight A's. As a concerned and involved parent I wanted to know what we could do at home to help her be successful in math. Her comment felt like she was telling me that we were being too overbearing and should just be okay with the grades this teacher feels are fit. Is it just me or does any grade below an "a" leave a student room for improvement. Grades are important to us and to Phi. She was so disappointed to see that B on her quarter report card. Especially since she had worked so hard trying to grasp the concept of division. I am not pushing my child beyond her abilities. 

This comment by the person who is my kids educator rang in my head for days. I was angry and disappointed. There are a lot of things that Phi is not the best at. In fact, most things she has a hard time doing well, with the exception of academics. At academics she can excel. She is a smart kid and why would we not encourage her to be the best. Why would I ever tell my kids that she can't be the best at everything. I am not delusional. I don't think she can be the best at everything. And guess what Phi already knows that she isn't or won't be the best at everything. There are lots of things she is not the best at. And as a teacher, shouldn't she be encouraging her students to be the best in all subjects?


  1. I feel that all kids should be encouraged to do there best at all they do even if their best is a B or second place. I never put much pressure on my daughter to get A's because she put that pressure on herself. What I did do and still do even now that she is in college is always just say do your best and ask yourself if that was the best and your answer is yes, then that is fine with me :)

  2. Anonymous10:19 AM

    I think there's a big difference between setting the expectation that they do their best versus try their best. While they should ALWAYS try their best - they shouldn't expect to always be the best. The reality is everyone is great at some things and not others - and that's ok. Also - if everyone expected to always be the best you would spend your life disappointed because everyone can't always be the best at everything - that would break the universe or something.

    There's something to be said for realizing your shortcomings - then you know when you need to ask for help and when you don't. Kids who grow up expecting to always be the best, in my completely uneducated opinion, become know-it-all frustrated adults because the world, and their place in it, didn't turn out to be how they were led to believe it would be. And they also tend to not realize when they don't know - and end up offending those who DO know because they can't fathom anyone would know more than them.

    As for Phi and her B+ grade - if she were my daughter I would remind her that anything over a C means she's above average. A B+ is a GREAT grade. I would acknowledge her desire to have all As - and then ask her if she believes she did her best. Then I would discuss with her if there is anything else we can do to help her with division. But above all else I would let her know that I am ecstatic with her grades, it was not a failure in my eyes. (This is Dana Thomas, by the way)

    1. Hey D! I feel like this post come off like I pressure Phi for straight A's. The issue was not with the grade. The issue was with a parent attempting to get information from a teacher to help a student who wants to raise her grade and instead being told that this student should just settle for a B. To me that is unacceptable. If you had a new concept or procedure at work that you could not master and your work was being turned in with errors and you went to your boss and asked for help and they told you "You can't be the best at everything" and left you to figure out things on your own what kind of message would that send to you? Now imagine what kind of message this send to a 3rd grader. Another big issue with this which I probably should have made clear in this post is that I have no idea how grades are being calculated. They have about 15 mins a week in class to learn new math concepts, they turn in homework weekly and there have been no quizzes or exams. I have asked the teacher twice now and she has given me very vague answers. How can we expect students to meet expectations if we don't tell them what they are.


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