Image from kizoomlabs.com
After participating in another Twitter chat on Saturday, #satchatwc, I knew I had to survey my students again. This time I gathered their thoughts on the word smart. Most of the educators participating in the chat believed there are many forms and definitions of the word smart. All of us have a talent/gift to contribute. All of us can be smart. But I wondered, does it really matter how we, adults, view smart, if the message is not getting across to our students? Here is what my fifth grade students had to say.
What do you think the word smart means?
“Someone who knows a lot of things.”
“You are good at all subjects. Intelligent.”
“Make wise decisions.”
“You get everything in Math, Reading, everything!”
What do you think makes a person smart?
“Learning, research, and also reading.”
“Practice. Lots of training the brain.”
“They know lots of things.”
“Trying hard. Not giving up. Practice.”
Do you think there are different types of being smart? Explain.
“Yes. There is street-smart and smart-smart.”
“Everyone is smart already in their own personal way.”
“Yes. You can be techy smart or life smart and that means you can manage your money.”
“I do not know really but if there is I did not know.”
Do you see yourself as a smart person? Explain.
“Ummm, no. I really don’t get math and science and stuff and it makes me really mad.”
“I’m in the middle because I don’t always get everything right.”
“No, but I have street smarts.”
“Yes, I know many things. I know a lot of math but especially technology.”
“Yes, I can build.”
Any other comments on the word smart? Thank you for being honest and open with your comments!
“I don’t like the word smart.”
“Why is it called smart?”
“Everybody is smart.”
“Would you consider me smart? Please be honest too. Thank you! (I promise not to cry. I just want to know what you think.)
As I sat down tonight reading over the surveys, I was pleasantly surprised at how many students understood there could be different types of smart. Many spoke of effort and practice to help get “smarter.” One even said mistakes make you smarter! I do not know if this message was gleamed from me, previous teachers, or parents, but I was excited to read their thoughts.
On the other hand, even if students viewed and accepted different types of being smart, some did not view themselves as being smart. They could not identify something they were smart, gifted, or talented in. This troubles me tremendously! I try to notice and recognize the successes in all my students, yet some do not see this in themselves.
I intentionally set those surveys aside. I’m making it my top priority to help those students discover, recognize, their own unique gift(s) they bring to our classroom and the world. If I can do that, I have succeeded as a teacher. Just maybe, I can help foster a life-long learner. A passion for learning. Hoping to plant the seed!