Hello and welcome to Day Nine of our Challenge! Hope this finds you well, full of awesome ideas on how to make the world a better place, on how to help kids find their full potential, or at least how to make a quick and easy lunch! 🙂
My single word is two words: Try Hard
In our 8th grade class, we struggle with work, period. We struggle with work in class, we struggle with work at home, we struggle when we aren’t assessed well on work that doesn’t not reflect what we know. As a whole, the class is very intelligent, but the work ethic is not there. The idea of grit and resiliency, F.A.I.L. (First Attempt In Learning), all of those fun things in education right now, not really part of our 8th grade vocabulary.
But “try hard” is and it drives me crazy. Every time that we have a student who excels, “Oh, try hard.” Anyone we have a student who asks what they do better then next time, “Quit being a try hard.” Any time a student, through pure hard work and effort, is successful at a task that many others aren’t, you guessed it: “Try hard!”
Doing well in athletics? Nope, that’s hard work. Doing well in academic? Nope, you care too much, and it shows.
When did pushing yourself in all aspects of your life suddenly become a negative? Why should we not celebrate the accomplishments of those who are academically gifted? Why is try hard a negative thing?
I’m not sure, but each time I hear this term used, I call out the offender. I have to. If I didn’t, I’m giving power to that negative attitude in my room.Both of my daughters have been lumped into that category, for different reasons, but no one, for sure not the teacher’s kid, likes to be called that.
I have a solution? Nope. Until we start lifting up the intelligence the way we do with athletics, we’ll keep having problems. And as a teacher, that makes me sad and angry. We need to keep pounding on this idea that to not try is to be celebrated. We should be celebrating the accomplishments of EVERYONE who’s willing to put in the time and the effort (regardless of reward) to see their own success, where ever that is.
Success is defined differently for different people, but make no mistake, it needs to be valued, period.
March 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm
Great post, Darin! I also find “try hard” in my classroom & don’t have much luck making it stop, either. I try to praise students who get it and get grit, but I don’t know.
March 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm
I agree, Kari. It’s infuriating to see those who work hard, who value intelligence getting made fun of….ugh!!
March 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm
I’ve never heard “try hard” used this way, but I’ve sure heard the other terms–nerd, etc. I usually respond with a caustic, “It’s better to be a nerd than an idiot,” when I hear it used. I also remember way back when I was in middle school, it was the same thing, but when I hit high school, being ambitious and academic were respected again. It was such a relief.
March 9, 2017 at 5:04 pm
As a teacher of 6th graders, I see this attitude beginning to develop so I can only imagine how hard it is with 8th graders. It is so discouraging to watch them tear each other down. I try to compliment kids quietly and in private so that they don’t get “called out” by the class. As you so eloquently stated, “When did pushing yourself in all aspects of your life suddenly become a negative?” When, indeed!
March 9, 2017 at 6:29 pm
And sometimes that will work in class. Sometimes, they just do well, or answer a question in class and then suddenly, “try hard”. Think that little girl or boy will raise their hand again? Ugh!
March 9, 2017 at 5:10 pm
Amen, so tired of seeing the kids that excel in academics get made or the kids in band and choir and other fine arts. Why do we idolize the athlete and put down the others?
March 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm
I have no idea. The worshipping “sports god” is sad and deflating for many kids.
March 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm
Yes! It is crazy how this works. Ugh. Or they just assume kids who are doing really well are “really smart”, but 9 times out of 10, they’re just MUCH harder workers!
March 9, 2017 at 6:26 pm
Part of it is intelligent and part of it is work ethic. Sometimes, when you put the time in, great things happen to you. The problem is, so many don’t want to do the work! 😦
March 9, 2017 at 5:38 pm
When did it become bad to be good? Keep pushing the idea of greatness. It will sink in.
March 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm
We will keep trying, that’s for sure.
March 9, 2017 at 5:56 pm
Ugh, I remember those days. I do think it mellows out a little bit in high school, but, man, those middle school years can do some damage. I’m glad you’re working against it. Now if one of the class leaders would just do the same…
March 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm
It’s a tough class and many times, those leaders will just keep their heads down rather than put a target on their back. 😦
March 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm
You hit the nail on the head. This is excellence. Thankfully, my second graders are still eager to please and will try their hardest. This would be a hard problem to combat.
March 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm
In my day, it was still “teacher’s pet” or “goody-goody.” Sounds even tougher, now. We may not have a solution yet, but naming the problem is a good first start. I appreciate your taking a stand!