Success Is Not Measured In A’s

Success is not measured in A’s.

How is it measured then?

Success is measured in a variety of ways, none of which come down to a single letter.

It can be measured through the angle of a child’s mouth – does it curve up, or does it curve down?  Success can be measured through a student’s willingness to continue trying, to persevere, and to desire a lifelong path of learning.

Success is measured through a students’ ability to relate, to initiate, and to make choices that result in the creation of the best version of themselves.

Most of all, a child’s success can be measured through love – love for oneself, love for others, and love for the world.

Because love attracts success.  Love gives one the ability to focus, to maintain motivation and enthusiasm, to accept one’s own mistakes with ease and grace, and to allow one to see their true worth and value in the world.

We cannot put an A or a D on the above.

All too often, the first words I hear at parent/teacher interviews are, “I want my child to have all A’s.”  That statement is often attached to unrealistic time frames and goals (although eventually, it is attainable).  I hear it over, and over, and over again.  By no means do I intend to insult the wishes of parents.  I know parents love their children and want only the best for them and for their future – but will an A give this to them?

An “A” might not, but love certainly will.

Perhaps this belief was planted in me years ago when my parents told me that as a school-aged child, they would first and foremost look at the learning skills section of the report card, for both myself and for my brothers.  Their interest in my school success, related to the success of my character.

It was still expected that I work hard, try my best and set academic goals, but I was also encouraged to be kind, to help others, to show respect, to be responsible, to work collaboratively…all the basis’ of love.

When the foundation for love exists, the strong grades follow.  Students who feel good about themselves, who feel good about their surroundings, and who feel good about their place in the world, find themselves academically achieving – particularly when these achievements relate to their unique skills, passions, and interests.

Love can be established, fostered, and encouraged through mindfulness practices.

Just yesterday, a colleague shared some news with me that just warmed my heart.  When he asked his Grade 5 students what their favourite part of Grade 4 was, they didn’t list trips, parties, or the last day of school 🙂 but instead, many said that their favourite part was meditating.  In addition to meditating, they loved the connection that was felt within the class, and the kindness that they exhibited towards one another throughout the year.  Their words, not mine.  And I can honestly say that the grades were reflected in this as the year progressed.

I am not claiming ownership for these results, or for these students’ memories.  I was simply one facilitator along their individual paths – they did all of the hard work.  For meditation to work for them – they had to focus, they had to persevere when it became challenging, and they had to continue it in their lives by choice.  These kids committed to themselves.  The students were also responsible for their own kindness towards one another, and the connection felt within the room each day.  They made good choices…loving choices.

After just 1 ½ weeks of meditating and engaging in mindfulness activities in our new school year, these are some of the statements my Grade 4 students (and T.A.’s) have been making…keeping in mind the eclectic mix of boys, girls, varied learning abilities, special needs, different cultures/backgrounds/beliefs/religions…

“Everything feels in harmony.” (Seriously, you can’t even make this stuff up!)

“My mind is clear.”

“I’m not thinking of all the things I have to do/face when I get home.”

“I feel relaxed.”

“My worries are gone.”

“I feel like I am in my very own space.”

“I can see nice pictures and colours.”

“My mind chatter is gone.”

“I love this part of the day!”

“I should do this at home.”

And my favourite… “Can we keep doing this for longer/forever?”

Not to mention the amazing notes and feedback that have been rolling in from parents 🙂

This is just the beginning.

So you see, even I as a teacher assigning those letter grades, can measure success by the smile on a child’s face, or the tension of daily stressors vanishing into thin air.

I look forward to a day when I share even more beautiful conversations with parents. Ones in which at an interview they may say, how much has my child’s heart expanded this year?  How many times did he smile today?  Does my daughter like herself – what about love? I’m so proud of my son for letting go of all that anxiety before the test this week.  My children had the most successful year – they learned all about who they are and who they want to be.  Tonight we are celebrating my child’s success both emotionally and academically!

I look forward to assigning A+’s for love.

I know that the future of our report cards aren’t likely to sport these exact headings, but they can do one very important job right now, and that is to remind us that success is measured in far more than A’s.

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