I confess that I have high standards for my students, but sometimes you simply have to pause and take a step back to let them experience success and failure along the way. As they continue to work on their National History Day projects, they now know what is expected of them in the way of the final product. In many ways this is like putting your new toy boat in the rapids, being aware that there are hazardous falls, rocks and boulders ahead. Some will crash and sink to the bottom, others making their way to safety by navigating around the aforementioned dangers.
With eleven days remaining in their deadline, some students are doing quite nicely. Their thesis is well thought out and the accompanying outlines are taking shape. Many have taken hold of their subjects and are exploring new knowledge in the way that we had hoped. This is when it's fun to be a teacher, to see them exploring new ways to present their ideas to interested readers. I will admit that some of it is pretty simple in nature, but this is the same starting point from which everyone once had their back foot sunk into. As one of my good friends always says, "do you remember how sloppy your first French kiss was?" Likewise this will be a memorable experience for every student in my class. They may well think back and remember how poorly conceived their projects were, but they will also recall the fun (and he headaches) they had putting it all together.
This is just another microcosm of life in the real world, and by falling down and picking yourself up off the floor, you realize your real mistake was not listening to the person who told you to keep both hands on the handle bars and avoid leaning more to one side over another. Yes, there are dangers ahead....but in the end a gentle fall with teach big lessons.