Friday, April 17, 2009

Celebrate excellence

If, as a teacher, you're going to insist upon it, if you're going to model, if you're going to break your neck trying to find ever-newer and -more nuanced ways of instilling it, if you're going to refuse to settle (or allow the students to settle) for anything less than the absolute peak of feasible excellence, then you also oughtta damned-well celebrate it when it appears:

Out of a class of eighty-seven, we had six late paper submissions. And every one of those six had an admissible excuse.

Eighty-seven out of eighty-seven who met their deadlines and did what they needed to do. That's 100% success.

So we collected the papers, explained (again, because damned near all of them are running on one, two, or three nights without any sleep at all) the criteria that were required to be met in order for an individual paper to be permitted review and rewrite upon initial return, and then, just before I cut 'em loose--because I knew that, after one/two/three nights without sleep, once the paper was out of their hands (required to be stapled and submitted in hard-copy, as well as submitted electronically by a deadline 10:00 minutes prior to class time, so that nobody would show up late), they weren't going to be able to concentrate at all, full stop, I said:

This is what success feels like.
They cheered.

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