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This Sucks!

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This sucks!!!


This is awesome!!!

If you’re reading this piece and you work with children, then the chances are good that you’ve heard these responses numerous times. The first one we hate and the second one we crave. To be quite honest, I hate the first response! It’s flip! It’s rude! And I can’t stand it when it comes out of a child’s mouth!

But, which response really helps us the most? When a student lets us know that something is awesome, we feel great and we feel like all of our hard work and planning has been worthwhile. Or, as an administrator, when I hear that something is awesome and I feel like I have made some sort of connection with a student. I feel good. I may even pat myself on the back.

On the other hand, when a student tells us something sucks, we get angry and we feel like that student just doesn’t get it. Or they don’t get us. The rest of the kids don’t feel that way, so this rude smart aleck kid must be wrong!

But which statement really pushes us further? Which statement really keeps us up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to teach and lead? Which statement helps ignite paradigm shifts?

It’s not this is awesome. When we here something is awesome we feel good and we keep doing what we are doing and we keep getting what we’ve been getting. And sometimes that is okay.

On the other hand, when we hear something sucks, we go back to our mental drawing boards and try to devise new ways to become better. To become more effective. We, as self-motivated educators and leaders will not rest until we have either changed the student’s mindset or changed the situation.

I believe if we are really honest, it’s the this sucks moments that have taken place in our own heads that have propelled us to innovate and change and improve.

Twitter, #satchat, edcamps, digital leadership, genius hour, PLN’S, etc. It wasn’t that long ago that these things didn’t exist. But leaders and educators got motivated enough to change the status quo. They got tired of the way things were and so they did something about it! Maybe in their minds, things sucked just enough that they wanted to do something about it.

I’m not suggesting that every time a student is upset about something and blurts out this sucks, that they have something to teach us. What I am suggesting though is that we don’t just immediately dismiss their remark without first hearing what it is that they think sucks.

It may just be that this student does have something to teach us. It may just be that this student is, in their own flip way, trying to tell us that what we are doing isn’t working for them and we need to try something different. And quickly!

I’m just sayin’, it sucks when we don’t know!




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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

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Guest Saturday, 23 February 2019