May 29, 2013

All of our seniors are required to complete a senior project, a graduation requirement consisting of 10 hours of fieldwork, a 10-page paper, and a 15-minute presentation. Needless to say, 12+ has been busy helping many of them on these assignments. 

During a senior project session in the PLUS Center, one of our students asked me to review his work. He was making final touches on his Powerpoint for his presentation, which was about the used car dealership business. I had helped him with his project earlier in the week, so I already knew he was "on track". 

 

"It's good," I said, after taking a cursory look through his slides. 

"What do you think about this new section I added?" he asked. 

I took a quick look.  "It's good too," I responded.

Just as I was about to turn around, he continued, "Do you think it flows well?"

At this point, I grew slightly impatient. I knew that there were 2 other students in the room who needed my help, and were it not for a sudden realization (which I'll explain shortly), I might have said, "It's good enough. Now, I have to go help some other students who really need my help."

The aforementioned realization was that the words "good enough" should never leave my lips as an educator. "Good enough" leads to complacency and lowered standards while simultaneously tethering inspiration and creativity. "Good enough" is what our students hear too often - so much so that they actually begin to believe that "good enough" is good enough. 

After this moment of reflection, I took a deep breath, turned back to the student and asked, "You know, have you tried looking at it this way?"

The ensuing conversation lasted for only 10 more minutes. But in those 10 minutes, I was able to challenge him to approach the presentation from different angles and refine his points. I believe that more of these "10 minutes" in our schools can lead to breakthrough, to a culture that will not settle for "good enough", one that will bring out only the best in our students.

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