This post is the second in a series about my journey and growth with Standards Based Grading and Learning
It is the mantra at my school this year – Best self, best work. Our administrators started the year at our kick off assembly talking to the kids about this phrase and what it would mean for their school year. Each day since, the morning announcements end with “Best self, best work.” The kids have actually started to say it along with my principal each morning. So, I began to reflect…
What does it mean for me?
My favorite thing about this mantra is the idea of best. Best doesn’t mean perfect or flawless. Best isn’t the same thing every day for every person. Best challenges without insisting on the superhuman. Best is never ending, there is always room for improvement. I would hope that our best shows growth throughout the school year. Our best will give us a redo the next day, and the day after that.
The next piece to the mantra is self. We each bring our own individuality to our learning community. We need a variety of passions and strengths to give our students what they need each day. Each member of the community needs autonomy to learn in their own way, students, teachers, and administrators alike. Learning is a personal, individual activity and schools provide a place where we all share the experience. We form relationships that in the end better ourselves at least as much as the academic studies, if not more.
And finally, not to be left out is the concept of work. Learning is full of vigor and hard work. If we don’t bring our best self, the work may seem impossible and more difficult than it actually is. Learning is a demanding process, not to be taken lightly. Work is a key part of the mantra, it is the promise that it won’t always be easy, but if you bring your best self and persevere, you will succeed.
The expectation is clear – bring your excellence, bring your individuality, and bring an inquisitive persistence to seek knowledge. I can’t help but smile when I imagine the greatness that will abound if everyone just subscribed to this simple request each day.
Best self, best work.
I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearing every authority which stood in their way.-Thomas Jefferson
I am a knowledge seeker. I love learning new things, pursuing new ideas, trying them out, reflecting, and improving. This is something I must tenaciously show my students to ensure that I am modeling the behaviors I want to see from them. I read, collaborate, write, listen, take risks, handle adversity (the best I can, no perfection here), and grow from mistakes.
This persistent pursuit of knowledge is what keeps me going as an educator, and fuels my fire. I like to think I am the lead learner in the room, and I had better back that up! But of course, it is no easy path being this stubborn about learning and innovating in the classroom.
There are the looks and stares, the discussions that stop mid-sentence, the people who just don’t talk to you as much as they used to. Others still, that make a point to let you know that everything you do in your classroom simply wouldn’t be possible in theirs. Innovating can be isolating at times. You can wonder if it is worth the struggle.
Then I think about my students. Our modern world requires nothing less than innovators. We need people to fill jobs that have not been created yet. We need solutions to very difficult problems. We need learners. We need creators.
So, I am committed to pressing ahead, learning and innovating no matter what the cost. For the time being, I will bear any authority that stands in the way of my students and I pursuing knowledge. But eventually, my students will have to go out and bear that authority, and I hope to have shown them the right way to do it. I hope to live up to the quote I began this post with, to boldly follow truth and reason no matter what.