17 Feb What does your pencil choice say about you?
I get a call every year to work at a high school with students who have been removed from their standard classroom environments. They have been invited to leave their home campuses for a variety of reasons – misbehavior, truancy or arrests. The choices and mistakes they’ve made have caused them to fall behind in their credits by one year or more. My job is to get them focused for their exit exams and help them with decision-making skills along the way. In a nutshell, I try to rewire how their brains think and plan for their exams – and life – so they can become productive citizens.
We have the same routine at the beginning of each one of my sessions. The students pick up their activity packets and borrow a pencil and highlighter to use for the class period. It dawned on me the other day when I watched how the students chose their pencils that their choices reflected who they are. Those who chose their pencils based on the sharpness of the writing tip were the same students who were working hard to make changes in their lives and get back on track. The students who chose their pencils based on the condition of the eraser were the same students who were fumbling aimlessly in life. They were already planning to make mistakes and erase the mess. Their counterparts, on the other hand, chose based on the tool they needed to complete their work; if they wound up needing an eraser later, they knew where to get one.
The attitude you have in your approach to projects will determine your success. If you start every day prepping for your tasks and telling yourself you will complete them, then you will. But if you start every day with the expectation that you won’t meet the standards, well, you’ll do just that.
So, how will you choose your pencil: by the sharpness of the tip or the size of the eraser?