Your Best Work

Today I evaluate whether or not students attempted “their best work.” It’s part of their participation grade. Did they do their best? Did they work with excellence? How does one evaluate this, anyway?

As I think carefully about each student, I realize that my rubric differs from some teachers. It’s not just that students arrived on time and prepared. It’s not just that they produced papers that fulfilled the assignment. That’s a given. This is average, expected, and baseline.

I’m looking for something else.

I’m looking for curiosity, complexity, a challenge, character, community, and courage.

I ask:

Did you approach each lesson with curiosity and wonder?

Did you push your thinking to higher levels of complexity?

Did you challenge yourself with each assignment to improve and try new techniques?

Did you display good character during this course?

Did you build community or thwart it?

Did you show courage in approaching hard topics and writing with an authentic written voice?

I apply this to my own sense of excellence today–for myself and my own children.

Might I move into this day with curiosity, complexity, a challenge to myself, character, community building, and courage?

I think this could make each day my best work.

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