Strengthening Your Weakest Link

I recently watched a feature on PBS which followed two principals over the course of a year. I was struck by a question that one of principals asked her teachers, something along the lines of, “write down the name of your weakest student and what she or he specifically needs to work on to get back on track.”

Most of the teachers on camera quickly got to writing on their pads, but in the back left corner of the screen a younger looking, yet still cardigan-donned teacher looked frozen like she just crashed her smart car into a puppy playground; her eyes, even out of focus, were full of guilt and fear and shame. Or maybe they were my eyes reflecting off the screen. I immediately identified with this background pedagogue, because shamefully, I too could not name my weakest student. On the other hand, I know well the middle name of my strongest student (mainly because she insists on writing out her full name on everything).

It is easy for students who don’t make much noise literally or academically to get lost in the grade book.