The title written on the cover of the journal beside me is “Be Brave.”
Dr. Jody always says, “We are wired to do hard things.”
Glennon Doye writes, “I say to myself every few minutes: This is hard. We can do hard things. And then I do them.”
Oh, but it’s hard.
What am I agonizing over? A facebook post, of all things. I know that I need to reply. I know the feeling that I want to express.
It’s the words that won’t come.
I can’t remember who said, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.” Maybe it was Dr. Tam, in one of her COVID updates, which would be appropriate since that has been my mantra to get through the pandemic so far.
But this post requires me to be more than ‘good’ and I’m sure it could never come close to being perfect.
Because the post I need to write is for a high school classmate, who just let everyone on his social media know that he is dying.
If you haven’t read Infinite Mindset by Simon Sinek, he talks about the idea of a ‘worthy rival.’ Sorta like a growth mindset version of your nemesis! My friend above? In high school he was my worthy rival.
I’m a fairly competitive person, just ask my family when we play crib. But in school, particularly in the time period where marks were on everything and everything was marked, that meant EVERYTHING was a competition between the two of us.
When those pink, handwritten, carbon-copy report cards came out? The sleuthing began.
“SOOOO, what did YOU get?”
When you were burning to know if you had the top mark or not, there was no time for subtle reconnaissance lol.
We either had the same marks, or were off by just one percent, but if he beat me? Ohhhhhhhh, I would be mad, and determined to make sure the next time, it would be ME with the highest grade.
Super healthy behaviour, I know….and I pity teachers for the searing interrogations I must have put them through to explain to me where that 1% went missing!
We know that grades are not a motivator for most students, and in fact, are de-motivating for learning to happen. I just listened to a Project Based Learning Webinar facilitated by A.J. Juliani. One of the lines that resonated with me was this: Assessing says “I want to help you” while grading says “I want to judge you.” We went (almost) completely gradeless in grade 7 this year, aside from a mark that we co-constructed for the January progress report. Not in high school, you say? In ELA 30 we didn’t enter any marks until October 1, and a vast majority of our assignments utilized the 1-4 scale. I want our students to care about and learn for the sheer joy of learning. The emotion I felt most was not that of joy, but antagonism and rivalry.
Most definitely, not the same thing.
But marks aside, this boy did make me better.
He was by far the smartest kid in our grade.
He was by far the best male writer I knew.
And I worked my ass off to just stay in the same league as him.
We lost touch, and are friends only in the distant facebook way where social media only superficially semi-connects us. I don’t know what happened to his own dream of being a writer.
But I hope he still writes.
I hope that he will still write.
I hope that some miracle can stop the rare virus that is attacking his brain and that, as he says, is going to kill him within months.
I hope that I can find the words to write on that facebook post.
This is hard. We can do hard things. And then I do them.
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