Friday, July 20, 2012

The Student Effect

When students enter school, there is always great hope (and the expectation) that the student will grow and develop over the course of time and leave the school having become a better, more fully prepared citizen.

However, the relationship between school and student is not one sided.  While it is natural to expect the school to have an effect on the student, how the student effects the school can often be overlooked.

One of my favorite questions to ask students, especially those who are new to the school, is,

"What do you think you need to do to make the school better?"  

Students are usually stunned by that question and have a difficult time thinking of an answer.  Mostly, they try to think of what kinds of activities they can participate in or teams to join.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with contributing to the life of the school by being an active participant, the answer I guide students towards is less about any one specific activity and more concerned with an attitude (mindset) about being a student which is conducive to having a positive effect on the school.

So, what do students need to do to make the school better?  How does the student effect work?

Here is what I tell them.
Every day, strive to be the best version of yourself you can be.  Some days, you will be 100%, so give us 100%.  Other days, you may only be at 80%.  On those days, give us the 80% and know how to use your support system (teachers, advisers, coaches, counselors, friends, etc.) to help you fill in the missing 20%.  What you cannot do is come to us at 80% and choose to only give us 50%.  That is a recipe for failure and frustration.  Give us all you have every day and endeavor to get a little bit better.  That is how the student effect works on schools.  That is how you will make the school better. 
How do you see the student effect working at your school?

P.S. By encouraging and supporting an environment that allows students to have an effect on the school, you are, by default, also maximizing the chances of the school having a positive effect on the student.  Funny how the relationship works, isn't it?
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