In Education, What’s Really Important.

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As a school administrator, one of the best parts of my job is seeing students mature into young adults.  Keep in mind it’s only one part.  Getting a paycheck is also quite pleasant.Really?

I see first graders grow up and become Prom King or Queen.  I blink my eyes and the fourth graders who play soccer or basketball during recess are now playing on high school teams.  Little kids who sing their hearts out in music class suddenly become the lead performers in the high school musical.

Time goes by so quickly (a sure sign of old age).  The experiences we have with our kids when they are young are valuable.  It is the basis of how successful they will become as adults.

This is why parents are always concerned about their child’s education.  They want everything to go just right (and in my case to make sure The Evil Spawn is self-efficient enough to live in her home after she graduates).

Parents want the best for their son or daughter and that’s how it should be.

They worry about getting them in the right school.  They worry about them having an advanced curriculum.  They are concerned about getting them placed with the proper teacher.

I think all of these concerns are valid, but in my opinion they are not the biggest issue in regards to a student having a positive school experience.

The number one thing a student needs to be successful is placement in the right class with the right mix of students.

In the correct situation with the right peer group, a student can make wonderful progress.

Academics can improve.  Behavior will be appropriate.  Attitude won’t be a problem (until they become teenagers… then it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves).

Without the right peers, all of this can go the wrong direction.

A good class can bring everyone along for the ride.  Every student will maximize their potential.  A bad class can drag everyone down to the bottom.

This doesn’t mean they all have to be “A” students.  It’s more about their personalities meshing.

Student placement in the right class far outweighs the right teacher or certain school building.

I don’t discourage parents from worrying about their child’s school, teacher, or curriculum.

They just shouldn’t forget to worry about the peer group that will surround their son or daughter for the next 13 years (if all goes well, of course).

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4 Responses to “In Education, What’s Really Important.”

  1. Dave Grant
    on Sep 23rd, 2013
    @ 12:56 pm


    I agree with your thoughts and wonder just how much peer groups come into play with academic achievement. I went through school in mixed ability classrooms for some subjects, and noticed that my peers who wanted to learn would do just that. They had the focus to do the work no matter who was around them.

    As a parent myself (and the husband of a teacher), our family is divided on this topic – I think my kids will learn if they are intrinsically motivated to do so, but my wife thinks peers and placement plays a more important role than I do.

  2. Shelley Yeater
    on Dec 29th, 2013
    @ 9:17 am

    As a Reading Specialist/Instructional Coach in a K-2 school, I personally think the teacher and dynamics of the class have equal value. I would love to learn more about why you think so strongly in the favor of dynamics. I enjoy following you and wish you were a superintendent in Texas:)

  3. Colleen Beavers
    on Mar 1st, 2015
    @ 6:33 am

    I can personally relate to this post. I was the only ‘new kid’ in my 5th grade class, (my family had just moved to a different state). I was not with a bad class so much as everyone picked on me. I hated school. I would fake illness, and any other excuse I could think of, so I could stay home. I never told my parents because I didn’t want them to worry. Then in 6th grade, all 5 Elementary schools combined into 1 Intermediate school. Everyone was new! I was finally able to make friends and loved going to school!
    My teacher had nothing to do with the students picking on me, (again because I never told anyone). It was also not the school because my brother was in the same building and did not have the same problem. His class was different. He was not the only new student in his class, so the dynamic was different. As a teacher, I know how the makeup of a class can either be wonderful or horrible. One bad apple can ruin a class, and one strong personality from a ‘good’ student can make a class awesome.

  4. Alex
    on Apr 5th, 2016
    @ 12:16 am

    I am a pre-service teacher and I could not agree more on this topic! Often, when a child is failing a class, a topic, an assignment; it reflects back on the teacher, of course. Parents and students alike blame their teacher since it is their duty to educate. However, this isn’t the case half the time. There are plenty of directions fingers could be pointed in. So many factors go into how information soaks into our memory, and most of those factors are unintentional if done improperly. I believe as well that a child’s surrounding environment plays such a big role in their cognitive development (as well as physical and social/emotional) and that putting more focus on this aspect may change many negative outcomes.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.