It’s late spring here in Kentucky (May 23 today), but the temperatures have been feeling more like summer. Recently a cold front passed through dropping temperatures back down to below-normal levels. Thursday, I awoke to find it 60 degrees in my house and 45 degrees outside (Fahrenheit, of course). When I left for school, I felt like I needed a coat, hat, and gloves to conquer this unexpected cool snap. 45 degrees is cold.
Ok, lest you think you’ve wandered into the land of weather blogs, let me bring this back to education. It’s all about perspective. You see, 45 degrees felt cold because I was looking at it from the perspective of recent near-80 degree temps. I had grown used to the weather and was now realizing just how far 45 degrees is from 80. Sound familiar? In the classroom, we do it all the time. We look at a deficit model, analyzing how far our students have to go to reach the marks we (and standards writers) have set for them. They come to us with deficits and we have to get them to proficiency. (How much work does it take to move from that 45 degree mark to the 80 degree mark?)
However, a moment of reflection reminded me that only a few short months ago, I responded in a different manner to 45 degrees. After a long COLD winter, 45 felt like a heat wave. (Throw out the coats and bring on the short sleeves.) The difference in perspective is key here. Instead of looking at a deficit, I was looking at how far we had come. 45 is a long way from the near-0 temps we experienced over the winter. If we apply this to the classroom, we begin to celebrate how far we’ve come regardless of how far we have to go. As the school year winds down, lets celebrate how far we (students and teachers) have come instead of lamenting how far short we’ve fallen from the goals set for (or by) us.