There are lots of different ways I define success for my students. Yes, I am happy when my they "succeed" on a quiz and get a good grade. This success comes easily to some and only by labor and pain for others. No matter how small the victory, I try to celebrate it with that student. Then there are the times when the student who struggles through math every day makes the game-winning goal at the soccer game. Those moments are just as proud for me and often more enlightening. Getting to see someone at their best makes you re-examine your biases about them- something every teacher needs to do sometimes. Flash to tonight...
I played basketball in middle school. No one said I played it well, but play it (and love it) I did. I am an avid college basketball fan.....including an NCAA tournament trip and quite nearly 1.000 college basketball games throughout my life. So after a wonderful weekend, I spent my Sunday evening at school watching some serious hoops action. The JV and Varsity teams were having their first scrimmages and were also assisting with drills and practice for a local Special Olympic team.
Tonight defined for me a third type of success....the type where I see my students succeed as people. These 12, 13, and 14 year old students tirelessly walked through drills and talked with people who are very different from them. My students were not afraid or "too cool"; they were inviting, gracious, and supportive. After drills and games, the Special Olympic team scrimmaged for the crowd. My students cheered on every success and supported every failure. They offered hugs and congratulations to all the players.
One of those moments that reminds me that I teach kids, not math. Really amazing kids. Just something to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving week.