Excellence for All: Building Students’ Confidence

Highlights from the past two weeks:

 

  • The JO Historical Society’s “Gym Dedication” honouring Miss Mary Campbell, Ms. Mary MacDonald and Mrs. Pat Spencer;
  • Evening “remedial” classes have begun;
  • Associate Superintendent, Gary Little paid a visit to JO;
  • 20 students from Albertville, France are presently with us;
  • Work around next year’s timetable is well under way. 

On Thursday night I attended the Historical Society’s “Gym Dedication” and while walking in the hallway, I stepped into the Social Studies 11 Remedial Class which was entering into its second hour.  As I sat watching the 20+ students in the room, it became very clear to me that everyone was engaged and focused upon the lesson at hand.  Students who would normally be yawning and/or distracted were all listening actively to their instructor with highlighters in hand and arms in the air responding to questions.  Failure for these learners was not going to be an option!

What I saw reminded me of an article I read a few months back written by Robert J. Steinberg entitled, “Excellence for All.”  Steinberg posits that the way we define excellence dictates the way we achieve it. He looks at four models of excellence that operate in schools today. The first looks only at the lowest-performing students, focusing all resources on getting these students to score above “proficient” on standardized tests.  The second lavishes its attention on the highest-performing students in an effort to get more graduates into prestigious colleges. The third focuses on the middle, celebrating social and intellectual conformity. The fourth looks only at the statistical average in an attempt to compare favorably with other schools in the area. Steinberg proposes a better model for achieving excellence, which is to focus on excellence for all students in not only the traditional three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) but also the other three R’s (reasoning, resilience, and responsibility).

excellence-for-all-rj-steinberg1

As I left the Social Studies Remedial Class, I couldn’t help but think that what we are doing here at JO is helping our students develop “the other three R’s” and in so doing helping them achieve excellence by building their levels of confidence as learners.

Enjoy the nice weekend weather!