“Is this good enough?”


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Bigbadvoo

I had a great conversation last night and the gentleman told me a story that I found extremely powerful…

As a teacher, he had a student hand in an assignment the day it was due, and ask him, “Is this good enough?”  The teacher looked at the student and asked him, “What do you think?”

The student looked bewildered at the teacher and thought he was messing with him.  What the teacher had explained is that the work was not for the teacher, but for the student himself.  That every single day, he has to try and do his best work to his ability, not to what he thinks the teacher wants, but to the best of his own ability.

The teacher then said to the student, “If I give you 24 more hours to do this, will you give me your best stuff?”  The student then looked at the teacher, wondered if he was serious, and took him up on the opportunity.  The next day, he showed up and his work improved dramatically, not because he was doing it for the teacher, but he was doing it for himself.

When the teacher became a principal, he told his staff the story about this student and he said, “If we are expect our students to bring their best work to school everyday, shouldn’t we model that ourselves?”

The next time I hear the question, “Is this good enough?”, I guess we have to figure out good enough for whom?

  • http://shareski.ca Dean Shareski
    • Tabitha

      @Dean- I read the article you linked and I agree. I also think the two articles go well together. Who is the good enough for? It is for the person doing the learning and turning in the assignment- the “good enough” or “the best” is from the perspective of the doer. So using the example of the guitar- you don’t want to be the best guitar player- you are at your “good enough” which for right now is your best. Teaching students perspective and discernment is a big part of this discussion.

    • http://www.marinagijzen.com Marina Gijzen

      This reminds me of a story Michael Thompson (author of Raising Cain) told when he was a keynote speaker at a teacher’s conference I attended. The story goes like this:
      Thompson was interviewing high school boys to find out why they weren’t performing as well as the girls in their classes. He asked the question, “You are just as capable as Sandra, so why is she getting A’s and you are getting B’s?”
      The response from one boy was, “Sandra spends two hours a night studying. I study for 15 minutes. B’s are good enough for me!”
      Thompson left us with the question: Who is the smarter one?
      Maybe B’s are good enough sometimes.

  • http://hughtheteacher.wordpress.com Hugh

    I love this story. I always ask the student the same question when students ask this of me. Thank you for posting! It is a nice reminder about who the demojstration of learning is for.

    Hugh

  • R.K

    I agree 100 percent

  • Virginia Pavlovich

    “Is this good enough” article is something all teachers need to reflect on further in their classrooms. Teachers need to be asking their students , “What does quality work look like?”. Students must have input and discussion into this question so that they are aware of the what is needed to complete quality work. In this way achievement is easy , you either meet it or you exceed it. Once the discussion is had a list/rubric/matrix is negotiated with the students so that all students and teacher are very clear about the expectations and the criteria of what quality work is.

  • Linda704

    It wasn’t until my PhD studies that I learned this for myself as a student! My first semester was pretty rough, and I nearly dropped out. Second semester the professor gave us the option to take an incomplete if we needed more time to submit quality work. When I did finish my paper and turn it in, I said I hoped he liked it. His reply to me was it didn’t matter if he liked it, what mattered was that I was satisfied with it. He wanted students to write for themselves, not for him. As I continued my studies–and especially in writing my dissertation–Dean’s lesson came into play. I had to let go of trying to make it all perfect. Sometimes I had to allow myself to let it be “good enough.”

  • http://ateacherscoda.com/ Steve Hayes

    There is a lot of talk about personal branding among educators. Along with many articles published on the topic, are some interesting articles on the difference between brand and reputation.

    I think your article is a good example of the difference between branding and reputation. A school or teacher can develop a great branding strategy thru their online presence, but if their reputation suffers people will perceive their brand as phony.

    Here is our “stuff” – our brand, but is it “good enough” – our reputation.

    Thanks for writing the article and for sharing such great “stuff”!

  • http://voicEd.ca Stephen Hurley

    When I was doing my Masters degree I had an instructor who, obviously tired of this questions—even from adult students—came back at one student who kept asking, “What do you want us to do with this?” and “What should this look like?”

    His crusty, but powerful, response: “Listen, you’ll be lucky if I even read your paper. There is nothing about this topic that you are going to tell me that I don’t already know, so stop trying to pretend that you’re doing this for me.”

    There is a sense, however, in which we do little in our systems of schooling that provide a counter narrative. Much of the time, the teacher is set up as the grand inquisitor, the judge and the jury of quality. Teachers, for the most part, are in charge of distributing marks as rewards for doing things a certain way. Although new policies of assessment and evaluation are starting to move us in a different direction, I think that this power differential is part of the DNA of school.

    Anyone have any signs of major changes in this area?

    stephen

  • Pingback: Developing Your Personal Brand as an Educator | #BYOTchat

  • Cederick Ellis

    Powerful story!! One that should be shared with all educators. It’s should never be about us but about those we serve. Thanks for sharing! !