Decide not to give up

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Decide not to give up

I was teaching a senior class at the beginning of the year when a young man told me that he was going to fail everything because he was ‘dumb’. We had a conversation and I said to him ‘What if I promised that you will pass the first assessment if you do everything I ask?’

He was quite perplexed but he agreed. The assessment involved an assignment that could be done at home and school.

Over the 9 weeks leading up to the assessment he did everything that I’d asked. The students were given the opportunity to attempt an assessment that was similar to the official one but the question would be different. He elected to do this.

When he handed it in he looked so proud. I checked his work later that day and discovered that while he had many facts and explanations he had not read the question properly therefore he handed answered it.

The next day when I told him his face dropped but I jumped and and said ‘Hey you have a decision to make here; you can either be really mad and give up or you could do it again.’ He looked anguished and I could see him processing. The assignment was 6 pages long so quite a bit of work. He chose to do it again. The assignment was perfect. Subsequently he passed. He didn’t get the top grade but that wasn’t the deal. I gave him a special award and he cried. This set the rest of the class off and of course myself. It was a special moment across my 30 year teaching career.

This young man was stronger than he thought. He was able to make decisions to reach his goal in spite of hurdles. Can you?