The other day, I was helping a student work on a project. He had the rubric in front of him and was dutifully checking off each item as he completed them.
Except he was checking them off in the column for the second best score. I must have given him one of my famous baffled looks because he quickly explained that he never aims for a top score on school work because he wants to leave himself room for improvement. He must drive his teachers and parents crazy as they try to figure out why this bright kid isn’t working to his potential, not realizing it’s completely calculated on his part.
I understand where that student is coming from, but he’s not doing himself any favors holding himself back when what he really wants to be pushed. Honestly, how often do you meet a middle schooler who’s that desperate to grow his skills? He’s so worried about room to grow within the teacher’s rubric that he’s shutting himself off from reaching his own personal potential (something that can’t always be pushed in a classroom of thirty or more students). He’s developing a habit of being almost good enough that could follow him into his future career.
While he continued to check off his rubric, I talked to him about changing how he views his work. I talked to him about meeting the teacher’s criteria, but then also extending himself to meet his goals for each project. That way, the teacher and his parents get what they want, and he gets what he wants without feeling like he’s stuck in shoes three sizes too small. I’m not sure I got through to him, but we’ll see what happens on the next project.