so does Norr... as a teacher.
I first heard about the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking last year, when a friend recommended I give it a read re: Archer. And me, I guess. But mostly Archer.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers -- of persistence, concentration, and insight -- to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Archer, even now, would rather eat lunch alone than with a group (family excluded) and over the summer and before I realized that THIS IS WHO HE IS AND HE'S HAPPY THIS WAY, I worried about his lone wolf status... which is strange considering I'm kind of the same way. I mean, I'm friendly and I like to talk to people but I am far more comfortable talking to strangers... on airplanes... in parks... on my website... I'd much rather hang with my kids... or someone else's kids... Crowds of people give me anxiety attacks and having to make small talk for small talk's sake feels like pulling teeth for me. And yet... I was still struggling to relate to his desire to sit alone and eat his lunch on a field trip.
But he didn't.
And now I understand that. But it took a minute. Archer has always been extremely true to himself, hanging back from the crowd, doing his own thing... he has always been a leader... albeit a quiet one. A true thinker. And listener. And speaker... when he wants to speak. When he feels his words are where they need to be in order to share them...
And yet, under his teacher's guidance, he has grown into someone who is not ashamed of his quiet in the same way he is confident in his voice. We owe so much of that to his teacher, and so, for my first interview as a QUIET contributor, I chose Archer's 4th grade teacher, Michael Norr.
In Norr's words:
You need to seize on moments and recognize them from the obvious and easily recognizable achievements to the hidden gems found in the minutiae. You need to at times recognize the strengths for the student and then create opportunities so that he/she will come to see them as well.
I also think it is necessary to share personal stories with students in order to better connect with them. This opens the door to the possibility that they might discover something about themselves in my tales. My students know of my successes and failures, my shining moments and my embarrassments, and my weaknesses and my strengths. They know that I was too nervous to give speeches in high school, that I succeeded as a distance runner even though my coach didn’t think much of me, that there are songs that make me cry, that I make mistakes and have regrets, that my brother is the life of the party and I’m the guy in the corner not talking, that the only time I attempted a field goal, I missed the ball, that I trained for over six months to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, and so much more.
The endgame, in terms of academics, should not be a grade. It should be understanding. The most important thing to me is that at the end of whatever unit of study we’re working on, students thoroughly understand the concepts that were the focus of our studies. So yes, grades are always malleable. A grade on a test is an arbitrary indicator of knowledge at a particular point in time. To have that grade be written in stone doesn’t allow for the possibility of change or growth.
I always preach that mistakes are okay because they give us insight into what it is we need to work on in order to possess a thorough and complete understanding of a subject. In order to practice what I preach, I encourage my students to review whatever it is they’ve missed (or what they disagree with me about), reflect on the reason(s), and then submit in writing a correct answer that highlights their thorough understanding of the content missed. In doing this, I put in their hands the tools that truly ensure they accomplish what’s most important—understanding...
“We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in this world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard's education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of power, but to use well the kind you've been granted.” - Susan Cain