I Ran the Pacer
So this past week I ran the Pacer test. If you don't know what the Pacer test is, it is a running event done in 20 meter intervals that get faster and faster as the test goes on. A scholar had approached me two weeks before the test was to take place and asked if I would take on a challenge, to see if I could beat her pace (score) on the Pacer. Not knowing what the Pacer test was at the time, I just made the decision that I could do my best and show up for the test.
When I first met my wife, when we first started dating, she was training for a half-marathon. She was (and still is) a runner and I certainly was not. But in an effort to spend more time with her and be involved in something she enjoyed I bought a pair of running shoes and a few pairs of running clothes, and every once in awhile I would go on a short run with her. Now I have completed two marathons and I am training for my next marathon in Chicago. My gym teacher believed I would do fine on the Pacer test considering I was a runner. It gave me a bit of confidence and I decided to step foot into the gym and see what I could do compared to my 7th and 8th grade scholars.
But let's go back to the fact that it scholar asked me to run the Pacer test with her. I've been at the current building I'm in for two and a half years, this year will be my 3rd. The scholar who asked me started as a sixth grader the first year that I started as an administrator in this building. I have had the absolute pleasure of watching the scholar grow up over the past three years and develop into a fantastic academic mind and overall wonderful person. Although she doesn't spend much time in my office (okay, never), we have always made it a point to connect throughout the day. So when a scholar like that asks you to do something fun, you should probably do it.
And here's what I learned. My scholar didn't ask me to run the Pacer because she wanted to see if I would beat her or not, she wanted me to run the Pacer just because she wanted me to share an experience with her. We had taken the time over the past three years to build a relationship of trust and this was an outward example of the relationship that we had built. I was reminded through this opportunity what matters most with our scholars is our relationships we have with them.
The importance of the relationship between a scholar and educator was further demonstrated in my situation by the number of scholars who came up asking me about whether or not I was going to run the Pacer. At first it started with scholars in that class, and by the actual day of the Pacer, I had a large majority of our scholar body asking whether or not I was really going to run the Pacer test and what I thought my results were going to be. I had scholars coming up to me to share their scores and some scholars guessing what score they thought I would get. Needless to say, by 5th I gained a lot of additional attention.
What I realized after I had taken the test, and done quite well thank you, was that the test was not the most important thing that day. My decision to participate in the Pacer test and participate in something that our scholars participate in on a regular basis, provided me common ground with my scholars. Even scholars that I don't often see and a few scholars who I've never really had a conversation with took the time that day to come up and have a chat with me. That's what matters most, when we as educators create opportunities that allow for meaningful and lasting relationships with our scholars.
At the beginning school year, our administrative staff encourages our teachers to spend the first two weeks building relationships with their scholars. We remind them that curriculum, scope and sequence, and other things that may be on their mind can and should take a back seat. We stress to our teachers the importance of spending time getting to know their scholars, not just because it's a nice idea, but because it is going to make a huge impact on their ability to educate that scholar for the remainder of the school year. If we don't take time to build relationships first, we will never have the opportunity to engage them in academics later.
I've done a lot of things in my past three years as an assistant principal in this building. Some of those things are memorable to me and some things I've already forgot about. I'm going to assume that the same is very much true for my scholars. But my belief is that something like this Pacer test and other activities which I've done to meaningfully and purposefully build relationships with scholars, those are the things that they're going to remember.
So on a daily basis I need to ask myself, we need to ask ourselves, what am I doing to make a meaningful and lasting impact on this scholars life?
Reality is, it probably has nothing to do with academics...