And the Award Goes To…

Yesterday was Awards Day at our school. 1 1/2 hours of awards to the same 30 or so students. Do you remember awards day in middle school? I do. I remember sitting there hoping that I would get something, then realizing that my parents aren’t there so probably not. I remember leaving thinking, how did I get so dumb? I remember all my friends checking out bc their parents had to take off of work and so they go to lunch in their pretty dresses while I go back to class in flannels and jeans (hey that was awesome in the mid 90s). I remember thinking even if I was smart, the teachers hate me bc I talk too much in class so I probably won’t get one anyway. I am sure not everyone can associate a pit in their stomach with awards day, but there are some who do. Now I will admit that my senior year I did get a lot of awards and it felt great, but during the ceremony I still had that pit.

Yesterday I felt the pit. I teach general level classes. My students’ success are different than highest grade in a course. When a student is reading on 3rd grade level, being able to tell the class how a sedimentary rock is formed, that is a success. I can probably point out 3 or 4 successes that each of my 120 students have had this year. They aren’t silly number grades or getting elected or chosen to something, it was a small event in their life where they felt successful. Some of these successes did not even happen at school, and that is ok, life happens outside the walls of a classroom. I hope someone celebrated those moments. I wish I knew about each one. I wish there passions and triumphs were on display.

So maybe I’m just a little biased because of my life story, but I sat there and watched over 100 awards being given out yesterday and of the 300 kids I have taught over the last 3 years that were in that gym, only 6 received an award.  Those that did not, so many bust their tails for C’s and sat their with that pit in their stomach wondering when, if ever, they will be smart/good enough. I am not saying the gifted/Pre-AP students should never be recognized, but we all know who they are, and are very proud of their accomplishments, I just feel for that under-dog with the pit.

8 thoughts on “And the Award Goes To…

  1. Josh says:

    Full disclosure – I did well in high school and at the academic ceremonies. Not so much at the sport award ceremonies, but hey. I don’t have a problem with awards/award ceremonies. However, I was a little shocked when you mentioned yesterday it was during the school day. I don’t like the idea of taking students out of class for this. While I think it’s important to recognize students for successes, I don’t agree everyone has to be there to share in their glory. I completely agree that success is relative to the students. I think it goes back to developing relationships with students so that you know what “success” means to them. And then making sure it’s celebrated. It’s just unfortunate that they have to sit through the school’s version of success.

  2. Tracy Brady says:

    In my district the award ceremonies are in the evening by invitation (mailed home) so it’s a bit different. There are also separate ceremonies that recognize achievements in sports, band, etc. — again for students/parents involved in those activities.

    1. amandacdykes says:

      @ Josh & Tracy, I like the idea of at night. Sports and band/choir awards are after hours. That would fix a lot of the feelings of those left out.

      @rebecca Such a sweet poem. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Have you seen this poem? Thought you’d enjoy it! I’ve had that pit in my stomach many, many times…

    Awards Day
    I went to my son’s school that day
    It was a very special day
    When worthy tributes would be paid
    To honor students in 1st grade.
    Music ushered children in
    Faces wet with toothless grins
    Flags were raised and banners hung
    Pledges said and anthems sung.
    I stood with other moms in back
    He didn’t know I’d come, in fact
    I didn’t want his hopes set high
    In case his teacher passed him by.
    Every mom felt just the same
    All had come to hear one name
    The child she hoped they’d recognize
    And find deserving of a prize.
    The list went on page after page
    As beaming children walked the stage
    Cameras flashed and parents cheered
    Grandma smiled ear to ear.
    My eyes were fastened to just one
    The anxious posture of my son
    Perched at the very edge of seat
    Too young to have assumed defeat.
    Certificates for everything
    From grades they made to how they sing
    For days missed, for how they drew,
    Good citizens to name a few.
    But it wasn’t likely on that day
    They’d honor one who’d learned to play
    And stay in class from eight to three
    Who’d learned to write and learned to read.

    We hadn’t hoped he’d be the best
    We’d prayed he’d fit in with the rest
    I knew no matter who they’d call
    My boy had worked hardest of all.

    An elbow nudged me in the side
    A friend attempting to confide
    A boy waving frantically,
    “There’s my mom! Right there! You see?”
    They never called his name that day
    I drove straight home, sobbed all the way.
    The boy? He had ceased to care.
    He had a mom and she was there.

    (poem written by Beth Moore, found in her Things Pondered book)

  4. Chris Wejr says:

    Awesome post Amanda but I also wanted to reply with regards to the evening awards idea. I am not sure this is any better than awards during the day (both equally bad). Does awards at night not create this elite award winner club that further excludes those not being selected as award winners? Just a thought.

    Rebecca – that poem is brilliant and I might just use that on a blog post of my own!

    Awards ceremonies is a topic in which I am very passionate. For more of my thoughts, please go to http://mrwejr.edublogs.org

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Didn’t think of it as a club, but you have a point. Yet if is no longer in the face of the kids without awards. Chris, didn’t your school do identity day like other schools? Do you think that replaced awards, by showcasing what other do well?

  5. Chris Wejr says:

    Amanda, the fact that there is a need to move awards do a different time/venue says a lot about the awards themselves – the majority of kids don’t want to sit through them! Majority of kids don’t like them – so is moving the awards solving or hiding the problem? If awards only attempt to benefit a minority of students, is this what we should be doing in schools? (i could ramble on for ever, I know ;-))

    We have done a few things to try to help kids to find their gifts and explore areas of interest. One of the things was Identity Day which showcase EVERY child, not just those who fit into the box we call school.

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