by Sarah Guedry
Yesterday, my own fourth grade daughter handed me her “argumentative essay” to read before she turned it in. My middle school teacher-eyes, with their sky-high expectations, immediately saw about 20 errors I would have loved for her to fix. But, not wanting to repeat the tears I’d brought her to the day before, I remembered how to be a teacher and used the “hug, push, hug” strategy with my daughter/student.
It works like this:
- Pick one thing you believe the student can correct
- Sandwich the critique between genuinely positive feedback (praise – fix – praise)
Sometimes the positives are harder to look for, so as I reread her essay, I looked specifically for the positives and counted them. I set five as my goal so that I could pick my favorite two to share with her. She smiled. Win!
Reflecting on that moment, I realize that I hold myself to that high standard as well. I am so thankful that my administrators understand that I have three small children who are trying to learn how to do school online right now. But I find myself suffocating under the self-inflicted pressures and expectations of all the roles I suddenly carry all at the same time. I want to juggle all these plates beautifully, but let’s be honest … All these plates were precariously stacked and balanced even before COVID-19, and now they are constantly falling and breaking! I have shed so many tears being frustrated with myself and believing that I am failing on all fronts.
But yesterday I sat down and tallied my own win with my daughter and that essay. It was just one simple mark on the paper, but it sent a chill down my spine, and now I’m addicted. I’ve started counting my wins. I’m at 20. I don’t remember them all, and the “fails” still haunt me, but those tallies let me know it’s not a losing battle.
We teachers and parents need encouragement, too. We cannot live in a state of constant self-critique, especially when we are learning how to manage a new way of living. Count your wins! Hug-Push-Hug yourself. Count your wins, and smile as you sweep up the broken glass of the failures. Failures are a necessary part of learning, right? How many times have we tried to instill that growth mindset into our students? We are all learning something new and hard right now. Give yourself grace, and count your wins!
Sarah Guedry is a secondary ESL coordinator at Lewisville ISD. Follow her on Twitter @MrsGuedry.