What About the Great Kid?

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During our regular corporate meetings involving all things PrincipalsPage.com, the staff decided I should blog about That Kid and the Great Kid (meetings, staff, planning, and coherent thoughts don’t really exist).

I first blogged about That Kid.

That Kid is easy.No That's a Smart Kid.

Everyone has a That Kid in class, their school, or as we are finding out… in their familes.

We’ve been notified That Kid turns out pretty well as he (yes, he) grows older and is given time to mature (remember… some take longer than others).

We’ve also been notified he can turn up in prison.

This reinforces my theory.  Everything, and I mean everything, is 50/50.

Examples are:  Will you wake up tomorrow morning.  50/50.

Will I win the lottery?  50/50.

Will more than ten people leave a comment on this particular entry?  50/50.

Will this blog make me rich.  Okay, bad example (there is exactly 0% chance of that happening).

Everything else in life is truly 50/50.  It either will happen or it won’t.

That Kid has the same chance of being successful (or not) as any other student.  It just takes time to find out.

There is an exemption to this rule.

Great Kids in 2nd grade have a better than 50% chance of still being great when they are adults (I have no proof of this, but my blog/my theory).

Every teacher has a That Kid.

They also have at least one Great Kid.  Most have more than one Great Kid.

If you think about it, there are probably at least 5 in each classroom (or with our soon to be the standard larger class sizes… 12 per room).

These are the students who are polite, hard-working, helpful, and happy.

They really are the majority of your students.

You know immediately when you meet them they will be successful in life (they have the parents that say it’s okay to beat them if they cough without raising their hand).

These students will grow up and be doctors, teachers, accountants, carpenters, or maybe engineers.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what they end up doing, it only matters that they will be good at it.

And they will be good.  Really good.

They will also pay their taxes and mow their lawns (very important to a stable society).

This doesn’t mean they’re perfect and won’t have bumps in the road, because they will.

They will just correct their mistakes and not make excuses.

That’s why you trust them to hand out papers, take notes to the office, and help the sub when you are gone.

They are the ones who will tell you what That Kid did when you weren’t watching.

This story often involves the random animal-like noises That Kid makes.

Or the throwing of some sort of object.  Oh, and don’t forget the always popular inappropriate gestures (usually during some sort of program where all the parents are in attendance).

As we head towards the end of the school year, as difficult as it is with our patience waning, we should all try to focus on the Great Kids.

Because there are far more Great Kids than there are That Kid.

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7 Responses to “What About the Great Kid?”


  1. Melanie
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 3:57 pm

    My personal mission as a teacher is to turn That Kid into a Great Kid by example and encouragement and sometimes a good kick in the tush.


  2. jeff
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 4:17 pm

    It appears the thought police have gotten to you. Of course we all have the great kid, but so what? The guy who checks your ID at Costco can teach them. ‘That’ kid is interesting, challenging, provocative, and where we earn our $$. The great kid is boring, and consequently, so is your post.


  3. Laura
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 5:02 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this post… these days people are so quick to want to complain about “that kid” that they easily forget to appreciate the “great kid”.


  4. Olwyn Hughes
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 5:28 pm

    I don’t think teaching the GREAT kid is boring at all (and neither is your post). Yes, the great kid can do a lot already but that doesn’t mean that I stop finding ways to challenge them. I have one right now in my grade 1 class who is writing a chapter book – yes, I said CHAPTER book – and doing an amazing job.

    I don’t think that there is a whole lot of difference between how I teach THAT kid vs. the GREAT kid. Both need challenges at their level, both require praise and consistenty, both have the potential to grow up into something great. If I just expect the GREAT kid to do fine regardless then I am not doing my job.

    In fact, it seems to me that too often teachers put all of their attention into THAT kid because they figure that the GREAT kid will do fine no matter what. Not true. Without validation for a job well done, without challenge, without teachers who care about them, the GREAT kids can become totally disinterested in learning. Sure they take to learning like a duck to water but that doesn’t mean that they will continue to swim. It still takes teachers to help keep them wanting to learn so that they will continue to grow and be productive members of our society. Sometimes, we put so much energy into THAT kid that the GREAT ones actually slip through the cracks in terms of helping them to find their passions and excel in them.

    We need to remember that all kids have something to offer and not just take it for granted that the GREAT kid will come out fine at the other end of the education system and be a valued member of our society. Just like we should not have preconceived notions that THAT kid will end up in juvenile hall. If we don’t put our energy into helping ALL children be the BEST that they can be, then we don’t deserve to be in a classroom.


  5. Margaret Howard
    on Apr 25th, 2010
    @ 7:29 pm

    I enjoyed both the That Kid and Great Kid pieces. I’ve had both every year but, as I rack up more years of teaching, I’ve noticed there are more kids like “That Kid” every year and fewer and fewer “Great Kids”. Why? Well, I think it’s interesting that you paint the TKs as having pitiable, perplexed parents and the GKs as having great parents. I think that some of the TKs have parents who do a poor job of parenting; too often the teacher, school, system is blamed for what is simply a lack of discipline or expectations. That Kid can become a Great Kid, but it’s much harder without parental support.


  6. Tammy Henkel
    on Apr 26th, 2010
    @ 10:52 am

    I normally don’t comment on the internet but this one made me take notice. I loved the blog and I think it says just what it needs to say, my problem lies with Jeff’s comment with the great kid. I truly hope you are not a teacher Jeff and if you are you certainly need to take a look at your philosophy.

    I am tha parent of a GREAT (gifted) kid. Unfortunately this year my daughter came home and said “I hate school.” Of course as the parent of a great kid, I ask why? Her answer is in direct relation to Jeff’s comment. Two of her 4 teachers spend so much time teaching only to “that kid” that my child is not learning anything. She made the statement, ” I am in grade 8 and after two months of school my LA and Social teachers have taught me nothing because all they have done is review grade 6 & 7 material.” My daughter reads at a 12.8 grade level and her needs are not being met because she is not “that kid”, what makes her less important because she is a high achiever.

    I truly understand the challenge of that kid, but when you have a great kid you should spend as much time trying to challenge them to keep thier interest because it is just as easy to lose a great kid because they are bored as it is to lose that kid because they are “that kid”.

    ‘That’ kid is interesting, challenging, provocative, and where we earn our $$. The great kid is boring, and consequently, so is your post” is terribly offensive. Great kid is not boring, how many of “that kid” do you talk to that can discuss politics, are aware of current events, have made informed decisions on religion, the environment and can challenge you just like you try to do with “that kid”

    My daughter is currently on page 268 of a novel that she is wrtiting. Yes, in grade 8, and when she approached her LA teacher for feedback her teacher said she didn’t have time. How sad for her teacher as two of the three publishers she has sent her outline and starting draft to have expressed interest.

    I think helping “that kid” is extremely important because it may make the difference between success and failure but to write off the great kid as boiring or anything else is ridiculous. You are paid good money to challenge, teach and enrich every kid that comes into your classroom.

    Sorry for the rant, but it needed to be said.


  7. Warren Purdy
    on Apr 26th, 2010
    @ 9:12 pm

    Genius – you just got rid of all the bookies in the world!

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