Some of the students were struggling, particularly in my second class.
The difference between the two classes was pronounced. The first class was much more focused, while the second class would often teeter at the edge of chaos. This contrast came into stark relief on the day I invited a consultant from Google into the classroom to discuss the best practices of their recently released Google Classroom, software that we had begun using to help manage assignments for our project teams.
When the consultant presented in the first period, there was rapt attention. But not in the second period. Far from it. It was embarrassing, bordering on being disrespectful.
I was livid.
I shared my feelings afterward with the teacher. I asked her if I could have a frank conversation with the students the next day. She said it was okay.
So, the next day I came in and did some honest truth-telling. I talked about what employers would expect of these students when they entered the workforce. I shared with them how important character is for defining success. That we expected greatness from them. But that we weren’t seeing it yet.
It was a passionate, pointed talk. I looked directly at each one of them. There was no middle ground here.
Judging by the expressions on their faces, I don't think they had ever had anyone talk to them that way. And it made a difference.
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