The hardest objective of an English teacher is getting students to revise a piece of writing. They’re well into high school before they realize that their first ideas are not necessarily their best. I tell the kids that revising is a life skill. We just call it perfecting when there’s no essay involved.
It’s exciting to me when a student learns the value of perfecting a skill or an event. There’s not a kid alive who doesn’t believe the way to get better at a sport is by perfecting his skill set. Students are equally willing to perfect singing or playing an instrument or drawing or such. But when it comes to school work, often the first shot is the only shot. No one wants to perfect his handwriting or math skills or a foreign language.
So when I have a speech kids critiquing each other’s public speaking in an effort to perfect, I get excited. When students ask for additional math problems so they can be sure they understand a concept before a test, I rejoice. My greatest joy is when a student with a behavior issue seeks help to make a change. Are these kids alive only in my dreams? No, the gifted students at our school do this all the time.
I get a kick out of saying the following to our students: Your teachers here are tools. I, of course, follow it up with the rest of the idea: we’re tools for their use in reaching their goals. Nothing makes me happier than to be used productively by a self-driven student to reach his/her goal.
You can help your child in this area, Mom and Dad. When your child half-does a chore, have him do it again, but better. Teach your child that any work done and associated with his name should bring pride. And don’t make excuses for why he doesn’t measure up. Gifted kids love standards, mostly because it gives them something to beat.
Sometimes parents travel with our students to an event, and some are shocked to see what their children can do when pushed to revise and create. If you teach them that the revisions are to make them better and not just to exercise your authority over them, you might be surprised at what your child can create.