I’m an okay gymnast. I can do back tucks, front pikes, aerials, back layouts, but as I look around the gym, I feel inadequate. People trying double twists, double backs, skills I wouldn’t even dare to try. I try my best to just keep the blinders on and focus on my own skills, bettering myself, and then it made me realize: this is probably how students feel when the classroom turns into a competition. In isolation, I would feel accomplished and proud of what I am doing, but when compared to someone else, it feels very self-defeating, and it made me have thoughts of “I’ll never be as good as him,” and “This person is doing ______ and all I can do is _______.” This brings the idea of deficits rather than what people are adequate on.
Sure, some can say that seeing other people next to you do greater things should inspire you to be better, but that takes a mindset that I’m not sure I can make my students have in a short amount of time. It takes a lot of courage out of me to go up to one of the gymnasts and ask them how they do a particular skill.
So what can I do about it in the classroom? How can I make sure that my students don’t feel this way? I can make sure that I do not value speed; instead, I should focus on the growth. Individualize and don’t compare students. Sure, I will definitely show student work sometimes, but if I do that, I would make sure that everyone’s work would be shown and valued throughout the semester. Everyone is on their own path and they come from different backgrounds and should be treated as such.
Thanks for reading.