I Am Still Really Smart!

January 22, 2010

Don't you savor those moments when you see a former student at the grocery store, all grown up and on her way to college? Or one of those boys from your kindergarten class on the soccer field, now longer, leaner, and missing two front teeth.

I had one of those moments recently when I visited the school where I taught kindergarten last year. I was rushing to the office to drop off papers, dodging a line of first graders trouping off to the gym. Maleesha jumped out of the line, and ran up to give me a crushing hug. She smiled up at me and said, "Mrs. Moser, I am SIX now! And I am still really smart!"

I bet you have at least one Maleesha in your class -- so eager and energetic, yet so far behind on every measure of literacy learning. Without many books or models of readers and writers in her home, we traveled quite a road together in kindergarten. How delighted I was to hear those words from her - "I am 6, and I am still really smart!"

You are the one who has the power to tell your own Maleesha the truth -- she (or he) is really smart, and will only get smarter if she just believes it. I look down the lists of standards, skills, and minutia we're expected to teach every day. It takes a Maleesha to pull me away from the papers I'm delivering to the office and back to the most important work you and I do -- we help students believe in themselves, and show them in tangible ways every day how much they are learning, and how smart they are. Who is your Maleesha this year? Have you told her how smart she is today? Have you helped him take pride this week in a new skill mastered?

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