20 Jan

Etienne LeGrand’s AJC Op-Ed: You Can Hear a Pin Drop

We should be our children’s biggest cheerleaders!  That’s why I was troubled to see that, after winter break, we missed the opportunity to create fanfare as our students geared up for the second half of the school year.  We want students to succeed in school, but are missing golden opportunities to motivate and encourage them in the classroom (though there are no missed opportunities to celebrate them on the field or the courts).

I discussed this in an Opinion Editorial which was printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 5, 2011.  Here is an excerpt from the column:

“This week, students returned to the classroom following their winter break. But in stark contrast to the clamor of advertisements for haircuts, backpacks, school supplies and new clothes that marked the start of the school year, there is a deafening silence now…what a missed opportunity.  Students need to understand that the adults in their lives have high expectations for their academic achievement, not just their athletic accomplishments.

We should be their academic coaches. Coaches motivate their players to intensify their effort, remind them to work as a team and inspire them to perform at a level beyond their own expectations.

The parents who are in it to win are working with their children now to direct and redirect them toward the level of effort and discipline required to compete aggressively in the classroom as they head into the home stretch of this school year. Unfortunately, the national academic underperformance confirms that far too few parents are taking on this role.  We need to support parents to improve their “effectiveness as motivators of their students’ academic ambition and ultimately their academic success.”

We all have a part to play.  “Research finds that if children receive consistent positive messages from adults within their neighborhoods that they are capable of doing well in school and expected to perform at a high level, they are more likely to do better in school.” Adults who work with children as coaches and spiritual leaders can take their places in the “village” that is raising that child spiritually, academically as well as athletically. They can help to inspire the child to have high scholastic standards and not be afraid to be smart.


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