Right before a test, I tell students to “Do your average!” and not their “best.” My experience with students in test prep is that they are often concerned about the “show,” the test day, and not the day-to-day learning that they do at home or at school. The ones most disappointed with their performance on test day are the ones who did less than they thought they are capable of. Doing their “average” then is quite good and most all students are quite good in our assessment, theirs and mine, in the course of our lessons together.
The improvements we have gained in the classroom are victories and a cause for happy self-reflection. All students have them, and I am always surprised that they all do. The ones that need help, at times, I have talked with outside of class, driven them home imploring them to try harder, and not do the self-destructive things that hurt them as a person first and as a student second.
All young people improve with such care and mentoring from teachers. This is what we try to instill in our students at Steven Academy. Test prep, after all, is shooting for numbers or letters, but it’s the effort and the motivation to improve one’s self that best result in a satisfying academic achievement. Contented students do their best anyway because they know what that feeling is, so asking them to do their “average” is asking them to show what they are made of in such day-to-day quiet moments of reflection and care in what they do. Finding that in students is the key for us as educators, I believe. It is that “average” we seek in our students when we teach, and what we get out, the student’s personal “average” on a day to shine.