The following is something I sent home to my kids’ parents today:
It is almost that time of year when we start making new year resolutions. We look at ourselves in the mirror and find a weakness, a problem, something we need to improve and vow to fix it. We try to eat less, run more, join gyms, keep our desks clean and leave bad habits behind. We label ourselves fat, slow, disorganized, and lazy. And next year…we will do the same thing again.
Sometimes we do the same with our children. We look into their rooms and see the piles, we check powerschool and only see the missing homework assignment, we ask them to take out the garbage and have to ask again…and again…and again. We begin to label our children disorganized, lazy, unfocused. While this team has a few bad habits to leave behind…just a few…there are so many positive labels that apply to your kids. Their creativity is blossoming, they are learning how to manage their time, they are kind and caring about one another, and have such a positive attitude and spirit that they bring to school each day. We challenge you to look at your child and find a strength, a positive quality, something that they excel in and focus on that for a year. Labeling kids predicts how we perceive their future actions and we always get more of what we focus on. This is a team rich in kindness, friendship, and laughter (except on Fridays in social studies, ask your child). I think everyone would agree that we need a little bit more of all those qualities in the world today.
A man once found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched and grew up with the rest of a brood of chicks and though he didn’t look at all the same, he scratched the earth for worms and bugs and played the chicken’s games. The eagle clucked and cackled, he made a chicken’s sound; He thrashed his wings, but only flew some two feet off the ground. That’s high as chickens fly, the eagle had been told. The years passed and one day when the eagle was quite old, he saw something magnificent flying very high and making great majestic circles up there in the sky. He’d never seen the likes of it. “What’s that?” he asked in awe, while he watched in wonder at the grace and power he saw. “Why that’s an eagle,” someone said, “He belongs up there, it’s clear. Just as we, since we are chickens, belong earthbound down here.” The old eagle just accepted that, most everybody does. And he lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
A couple weeks ago the students walked into class and were told to sit in groups. After everyone was seated I noticed one student sitting all by themselves. I started class and tried to figure out a way to get the student to move into a group without making him feel uncomfortable, and without the other students complaining that they had already chosen their groups. As I was giving directions, a student on the other side of the class stood up and walked over and sat with him…then another, and another. It was one of the noblest things I have seen middle school students do. The student that stood up first was labeled at a parent conference as not working up to her potential, she was getting B’s, not A’s. From my perspective that day in front of class, I saw more potential in her actions than an A on a report card could ever represent, and we see that potential in your kids everyday.
So this year make a resolution with us to not only focus on what your child needs to fix, but one thing they do right. One strength, one skill, one passion that they excel in or wish to explore. It seems that over our many years of teaching each new piece of legislation and education reform has been passed to find weaknesses in students, and then to focus relentlessly on them. It is exhausting to be a kid and only have adults focus on what you cannot do. It is all of our jobs to make them realize that they are more than their test scores, more than their academic labels, more than what society tells them they should become. It is our job, parents and teachers, to tell them not just what they cannot do, but help them discover what they are capable of doing.
Until the eagle’s children discovered their wings there was no purpose for their lives.
The students have made a video to remind us what good is in all of them, and what their future might hold when they spread their wings. It is a bit long…settle in and enjoy! Hopefully it will help “reverse” your new year’s resolution this year!
PS: Please share this email with your kids, and tell them that Mr. Bogush is SO SORRY but a lot of footage was “accidentally” lost. Every student had the opportunity to be in the video. If you do not see your child, that was their choice 🙂 I highly recommend clicking on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen!
Happy Holidays and a happy new year!