It reminds me of how I feel when I'm running. I'm not the best runner, but I do work hard. The problem is I compare myself to everyone else, and even if I've bested my last time I still think its not good enough. Running highlights life's struggles so clearly. Everyone is trying to figure out the best way to run, the best shoes, time of day, location, fuel, etc. If someone runs a marathon, someone else has run a 50 miler. So I relate back to my kids in tutoring. Everyone is exactly where they are and sometimes you can't change it immediately. Some kids go to school and everything just click-click-clicks into place. Others are constantly feeling the uphill battle and hoping they can make it. At a few points in the year I administer basic facts assessments (addition and subtraction, facts 0-18). The one thing I always say before we start is, "This is not a race against each other. This is a time to look at how well you can do at completing certain problems. It also gives you and I a chance to look at the problems that were tricky. It's a jumping off point. The next time we do this I'm going to show you how much you've improved. The person you are competing against is you. No one else! But remember that some days you might not be able to do a lot, and today might be a tough day. You may want to try again another day. No matter what, give your best and if you do that then you've achieved success!"
So here's to all the little "surprises" that each of one of us will see and hear about this year, because those times make it all worthwhile.