Redefining Success

As students and teachers begin to chitter chatter about end of year marks, I could not help but recognize the amount of stress we put on high grades and their connection to success.  Do not get me wrong, I believe there is great value added when one’s grades are near the top but I truly do not believe it is a requirement when we discuss student success.

With this thought in mind, I decided to pose the following question to each of my classes “What is success and what do you want us adults to know about it?”  Quite a simple question and yet complex at the same time for my grade 7 and 8s.

So, with 15 minutes given and chosen groups created, students began to explore what they felt success meant.  Of course, there were a few imaginative ideas thrown out such as “finding bigfoot” or “owning a fleet of flying cows” but there were also some sincere and idealistic responses as well.  It was these answers that added a spark to my day and made me realize that perhaps some of my ‘rants’ throughout the year had sunk in.

The top three responses were as follows:

1. Knowing you are 100% happy with what you are doing in life.

2. Knowing that you are 100% happy with who you ARE

3. Learning from our ‘hiccups’ so that we can do better next time.

I ask then, with the above definitions of success in mind, how do you approach such a term in your classroom?  Do you focus on the grades or the process?  Do you see success as needing a well-being approach or as simply a race to the top?  Experience tells me that the definition of success runs on a linear fashion but that perhaps it is time for us to see it in a circular manner with a variety of connection pieces strung throughout.

I most certainly will continue to strive to have my students achieve their best and remind them that well, sometimes it programs require higher grades but that alas, it is not the grade that makes you successful.  Opportunities for success exist in many forms and it is up to the individual to seek such opportunities out or catch them as they float by.


What students want adults to know about success.

Needless to say, the attached image, as created by one group of students, is enough to make any educator, parent, or community member hopeful for our future; I most certainly am – how about you?

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