May 15, 2009
Our friend Lori is a voracious reader. When she recommends a book, it is definitely one we read! A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with Lori and the subject of books came up again. I quickly pulled out my pen, poised for my new "must read". You cannot imagine my surprise when she said it was Kathie Lee Gifford's new book, Just When I Thought I'd Dropped My Last Egg: Life and Other Calamities. My pen stopped in mid-air. I have never been a huge Kathie Lee fan. Not when she was on with Regis and not even now when she is on one of my favorite morning news programs, The Today Show. I was even more surprised that Lori was the one suggesting it, because she RARELY veers away from children's literature and professional development fare.
But, I read it...all of it...and it was a huge surprise. Witty, smart, laugh out loud funny, brutally honest and often times poignant.
As I was assessing a kindergarten student last week, I couldn't help but experience a bit of sadness and even frustration when she failed to meet our district mandated end of year standards. I reflected on how hard the two of us had been working all year long, how many times I had monitored and adjusted my instruction based on her progress and needs - and yet had still fallen short. Honestly crestfallen, I sat back and looked at this darling little girl. She had been tenacious in her effort, maintained a joy and love for learning, came to school each day eager and ready to go. She didn't know what letter her own name started with when she came to me....and her progress, though not up to the district standards, has been nothing short of amazing.
So what does assessing a student in my classroom have to do with Kathie Lee Gifford's new book? There is a gem of a quote in the book that made me pull up and pause when reading it.
"Success is not what you get after the work; Success is what you get from the work."
So, as I looked into that little face, I realized that judging her success, as well as my own, merely by an assessment given 'after the work' is a disservice to both of us. Instead, we celebrated with joyful abandon the well earned growth and success she has gotten this year from the work.
Kathie Lee...I'm a new fan.