There was an option contest at work for students, and many opted in to take this test. They had to pay $10 and had the chance to get national recognition. Most of our students did extremely well, but a handful of students did not place. A few of my colleagues and I had the idea to honor the students with a simple breakfast one day before school. I wanted to honor everyone since it was an optional exam; however, my colleague did not agree. She only wanted the students that placed to be invited to the breakfast.
What she said really struck a nerve with me. She said “I don’t want to acknowledge mediocrity.”
Her words stuck with me the entire day. While I can understand her point, it’s the same argument as the participation award. However, this is not who I want to be. Students volunteered to take this exam while their peers watched a movie in class. They paid $10, which for them is a fortune. There was no bribe. Just because some of the students didn’t do as well as others, we shouldn’t acknowledge that they tried their best on something that wasn’t mandatory?
Last year I ran the Chicago marathon. I did well, not fantastic, but should I not get acknowledgement for competing and finishing? I may be taking her words a bit too far, but I want my students to know whenever they show me effort, I will appreciate it. So yes. I will acknowledge mediocrity.