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Blog: Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Redefining Success

As the year draws to a close and teachers work to find the best way to sum up a child’s progress over the last ten months, it has led to some interesting discussions among us about what success really looks like. We have begun to embrace the idea that success no longer needs to look just like an “A” on the report card; our new curriculum and assessment practices reflect that we need to plan for and report on the progress the child has made relative to where they started at the beginning of the year – not just in comparison to other students in the same grade.

But let’s not forget the progress our students make in the areas of self-regulation and social-emotional development! What does that success look like?

Earlier this year I remember having a conversation with a teacher about her philosophy of differentiation, and she said: “Success doesn’t look the same for every kid.” Throughout this year, I have thought about that statement a lot, and have repeated it when discussing challenging or disengaged students with other staff members. Was the child only attending one out of 10 days due to anxiety, and now is coming 50% of the time? That’s success! Was the child struggling to use appropriate language every day, and now only slips up once a week? That’s success! Every day as I look around, I see these signs of success, representing the hard work staff have done to build relationships, help students develop skills and strategies to handle social-emotional struggles, and to create a place where students feel like they belong.

To someone who hasn’t seen the development of skills within a child, these seemingly small changes might not look like success at all. In fact, someone might be tempted to criticize that child. We get it…we have high standards for both academics and behavior in schools, and so we should. But we also need to be aware of and celebrate the incremental steps that show the tremendous effort staff, students, and parents make each year to help each child become the very best version of themselves that they possibly can be. It’s a journey for us all, and a cause for celebration!

KARI PETZOLD
Vice-Principal, Abbotsford Middle School