Today’s Lesson: How to kill a kid’s self-esteem   7 comments

Students in Gwinnett County Schools are down to the last 3 days and End-of-Year celebrations are in full-swing. I just returned from attending the celebration for my 3rd grader. On my way out of the building, I asked the Kindergarten teacher if I missed the note or email about their celebration. She informed me that their designated time was between breakfast and lunch last Friday, with lunch being served at 10:30 a.m. Needless to say, the Kindergarten team decided against over-loading kids on food that day, and I do not blame them one bit. The kids were treated to a ‘Game Day’ instead and based on the reports I received from my Kindergarten student, it was pretty fun. But that’s not why I felt compelled to rush home and get this blog written so let me get back on track…

So I am helping the long-term substitute with today’s celebration, i.e., serving the kids, cleaning-up messes, etc. (pretty much the same thing I do at home) when the awards ‘ceremony’ begins. Students received awards for successfully participating in the school-wide Reading program, Perfect Attendance, Testing Achievement, Honor Roll, and Principal’s Honor Roll. Several kids, including my 3rd grader (shameless shout-out), received multiple awards. I will admit that I was a little disappointed deeply offended by the fact that the principal only signed the Principal’s Honor Roll awards. My child and the others who maintained A’s and B’s during the last 9-week grading period worked just as hard as those who made the other list. Before you say,”Well, she probably had a lot of awards to sign,” my response is “Get a damn signature stamp then.’ Besides, the old adage is true: Excuses are like butt holes. Everybody has one and most of them stink. I can remember every award I ever received having the signature of at least one principal on them.

The celebration (partaking of the food) continues and the teacher walks over to me and tells me that one of the students was crying because he didn’t receive any awards. I’m not sure if the parent or common-sense teacher in me took over, but I became really livid at that point. I sat there thinking about this kid, who I had seen struggle with Math during the year, and his disappointment. Then all the research and data began going through my mind, especially because this kid is African American, he’s in 3rd grade, and just took a high-stakes test a few weeks ago. For those of you who don’t know, research shows that states develop their prison plans based on 3rd grade Reading achievement data…interesting. My motherly instinct kicked-in and I went over to him, bent down, and asked:

“Why are you crying?”

Sobbing and wiping tears, he answered “Because I never win anything.”

“It’s o.k. I understand why you are upset and I agree with you. You should be recognized for your efforts. Trust me, you are going to be o.k. Your *teacher knows that you try really hard and she also knows that you have improved this year.”

His parents entered the room a few minutes later and I am sure his dad had the same conversation with him. At least I hope he did. Now I will spend the rest of the afternoon in prayer, asking for some guidance/wisdom/financial blessing so I can give some of these kids what they need most: An opportunity to feel successful. Then I am off to Office Depot to print awards and beg area businesses to donate some certificates for the students.

*The classroom teacher has been gone 2 weeks due to a death in the family. I have no doubt in my mind that she would have given some type of award to every student.

7 responses to “Today’s Lesson: How to kill a kid’s self-esteem

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  1. I thought what you had done was very nice.:) I am not a fan of all these awards that they give out, but what happens is then MOST kids get an award while just a few are left out. I liked it better when just a few would win, then there were less kids ostracized. I was never a kid who won, and I was fine with it. I knew that I had worked hard, that is what my report card was for. But I am also a fan of old school teaching. Just go to school to teach and learn and prove your worth though your grades.

  2. This article really opened up my eyes. I totally agree with you. There is something we must do to keep the esteem up in our young people. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for your passion for the education system.

  3. This is why we have the millennial generation today. Parents used positive reinforcement. Millennials have been rewarded for trying and doing their best. I think it has made for a generation of bright, intelligent and fair-minded young people

  4. I have only one thing to say about this: Heartbreaking!

    Glad you were there to help pick up the pieces for this child. How many times is there no one there to do that?

    Time to REALLY put our money where our mouths are and create school environments that do what is truly best for our children.

    Thanks for the reminder Monise. We clearly have a LONG way to go!

  5. Well done on raising awareness on an important subject

  6. This is SO correct. I’m thinking back through my years of school and also athletics/extra-curricular activities. It always used to be a POINT that if there was any award given out at all, there had better be SOMETHING for each participant.

    Coming from experience, nothing sticks with you more than being excluded. And it’s HARD after that to convince a person that they matter.

  7. i never upset and annoy my kids

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