Nathan D. Quesnel
Superintendent of Schools
1110 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06108 Tel: (860) 622-5107 Fax: (860) 622-5119 www.easthartford.org
February 1, 2018
A few ways of looking at February 1st - 5 weeks since Christmas, 11 weeks till April Break, or can you believe it, we passed day 90 on January 25th! No matter what your perspective, I think we can all agree on this—time is flying!
As we face a new year and a new opportunity, I have been thinking a lot about how we can help our students see value and pride in the effort they put forth on a daily basis. As we have been pouring over winter performance data, one trend that continues to shout through the numbers is that when our kids see value in effort, achievement improves. I know, you are shaking your head right now wondering if my next statement will be, “when it rains, we all get wet”… However, as we start a new calendar year, I wanted to challenge you to think about whether the performance of our kids truly demonstrates what they know or if it possibly only demonstrates what they are willing to do. If you share my sense that it often reflects the latter, then I ask you to cross that next bridge and deeply consider how our daily actions teach, admire and lift up the value of effort and hard work. I believe that teaching effort and intrinsic motivation is a deep and complex task that certainly needs our full attention. We need to teach our kids the value of the struggle, the opportunity behind the daily grind, and the success that grows from the scrap heap of failure. We need to model for our kids the process of taking pride in writing our name on a paper, the discipline of completing a job we prefer not to do and the power of showing up with a good attitude. If we are serious about results here in East Hartford, we need to continue to look hard at our own actions, words and beliefs and challenge ourselves to demonstrate the simple value of all successful people, Hard Work ALWAYS Works!
How do we do this? Easier said than done. It starts by modeling effort in our daily preparation, by incessantly talking to kids about their personal expectations of themselves and by chunking tasks into manageable bits as we deliberately build the stamina of success. It starts by finding that delicate balance between extrinsic rewards (jump start) and intrinsic drive (long term success) and it starts by asking kids in that moment of silence and meaning…”Is this really your best work?” As you look at your lesson plan today, I want to challenge you to look for the explicit moments where you are teaching kids to demonstrate pride, set high personal standards and commit to working through struggle. If we do this together, I believe we have the opportunity to help our kids succeed.
Life coaches, writers, motivational speakers and publishers fill the personal success aisle at Barnes and Noble with tips on achieving your dreams. Google “inspiration,” and you will be treated to three to six minute videos challenging you to persevere through challenge…Our world already knows this secret—how can we get our kids to take advantage of it?
Looking forward to visiting and seeing you helping our kids unlock this power!
See you in the halls,