Magical Progress

It seems that it can be hard for me to notice my own progress while I am in the trenches putting in the work. When it goes unnoticed for too long, or I discount it, the motivation needed to keep going gets tougher. Instead of feeling motivated I feel stuck or defeated. 
Young children are so excited to share their improvement, their progress and celebrate it so joyfully! “Look at me! I did it!” At some point that joyful celebration begins to come less easily, with less enthusiasm.
When I was teaching Summer School most of my students were hesitant to write. “I can’t do it.” or “I am not good at it.” were common statements. As almost third graders they were feeling stuck and unmotivated. I know how that feels. They were unable to see, or acknowledge, their writing capabilities and unwilling and fearful to try and improve. 
I wanted them to notice their capabilities and see every bit of improvement they made. With support, effort, focus and fun we worked on our writing for the 20, half days we were together. Celebrating as much as we could, every little bit.
On our last day of school I decided to share some bits and pieces of our pre and post writing assessment with them. I didn’t share the scores, or the names on the papers, and we discussed not saying, “That’s mine.” or “I know who’s that is.” 
We looked at the pre and post side by side and noticed the improvement. What do you see that is better than the first test? We noticed spaces between words, easier to read, better spelling, capital letters at the start of a sentence, period at the end, clearer printing…Any little improvement we noticed it and we smiled about it.
 We did not discuss scores and didn’t use the word perfect. We used the words changed, improved, transformed and magic. Is it magic? It can feel like it, but we know it’s not because we know the effort, hard work and focus that it took to get better at writing. The feeling of owning the improvement is magical, joyful, and motivating!!
I hope that as they enter into third grade next week they carry that feeling with them and let that feeling give them the courage to keep working hard and to try their best. I hope they amaze themselves with all they can do.