Honest Leadership

I was all prepared to give the test. One week is enough to read 11 chapters, right? This is college prep English, after all. But then I realized Friday was HOBY presentation day, where we have guest speakers coming to get the students excited about a summer leadership conference. Still, I thought, this isn’t a problem. The other sophomore English teacher was in the same boat.

And then it happened. One of my students got red in the face and told me I was being unfair. She explained that she’d been trying all week, reading as fast as she could, and that she was nowhere near ready. I was annoyed. Really? I retorted that in an actual college class, they’d have to read much more.

Our guest speakers arrived, and rather than the 15 minutes I thought they’d spend, they stayed longer. Two girls, talking about the power of leadership. I started dwelling on what my student had shared with me. As someone who professes to be student-centered, how did insisting on a Friday test fit with my new philosophy?

It didn’t.  So as I shut the door behind our guests, I said, “We have someone in this room who took on a leadership roll this morning. She wasn’t afraid to tell me when she thought I was being unfair.” And when I asked how many other students were in the same situation, more than half the class raises their hands. I put off the test, after getting assurances from students that they would read over the Thanksgiving break.

So, fellow reader, did I do the right thing?

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