Becoming ‘smart’ in Primary school

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As our term and year comes to an end here in Australia, my co-teacher and I have once again surveyed both the Year 6 students and parents about the year. We are interested in if we met their expectations and about their learning experiences. We take our survey seriously and so we allow both the students and parents to given anonymous answers. This response came in last week in answer to the question ‘did year 6 meet your expectations?’ It breaks my heart.

I expected to become a bit smarter because I feel if I am smart then people might like me more. I can’t concentrate that well in class so I can’t gain as much smart’s as everyone else
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So this post is my response to all those students who worry about being smart.

This year I hope I challenged you to think, to try, to give everything a go. I hope that I helped you to feel empowered and able to give of your best. I know I wrote extensive comments on your work and never any grades, so that no matter how well you had done you would always see there was room for improvement. I know I encouraged you in everything you attempted.

But you are a Year 6 student and this year academic success has come easier to some and not to others. For primary school students, academic success is built upon success in literacy and numeracy. Especially for those who learned to read quickly and for whom the essential literacy and numeracy concepts were easy to absorb. If you are still finding some aspects of reading hard, If you struggle to decode word, to spell difficult words and to find the inferential meaning in text, then obviously you will find writing hard too.

I know that many struggling primary students will go on to find their place at high school. They might be late literary bloomers. Or they find their place in the sport, drama or art departments. But I want to tell you, that success in school does not equal success in life. That one day no one will care if you were a prize winner or not. One day even your HSC grades will be a distant memory. And that especially no one will even know if you had the ‘smarts’ in Year 6.

Until then please do not despair, please do not give up. Any Year 6 student who needs their friends to have ‘smarts’ is not a genuine friend. As you grow older you will find that your friends will will love you for who you are. They will be the ones who will stick by you. I also know that you will find your place and your success in life.