A Different Type of Assessment

So, earlier this week Tucker started my vehicle for our morning commute to school.

He sat in the vehicle waiting patiently for me, I was outside trying to wrangle the dog.  Wrangle the dog on a chilly October morning Iowa .  Was I dressed for the weather?  Never.  I stay in these flip-flops until the first snow hits the ground.  When I finally found my frigid self in the driver’s seat I was a bit harried, rushed.  I felt an immediate warmth and calm.  I looked left and noticed three tiny lights.

He also turned on the seat warmers.

I told him thank you – I gave his hand a big squeeze and he said, “I know you’re always cold.  Just trying to take care of you.”

Yep, that’s my child.

He’s not the fastest.
He’s not the smartest.
He’s not the star student.
He’s not the starter on a team.
He’s not the most popular student.
He doesn’t get fancy awards for having character.

He’s not really the best at much…except at being an AWESOME human being.

It’s report card time in our house – and it’s always a distressing time. He rarely feels ‘good enough’ in all of the categories on paper. So, this year I’m making him a report card from home and when it’s time…a ‘home’ IEP. On that report card, 10 categories not assessed by the school structure.  10 categories that reflect who he is instead of how he performs with a pencil and paper.

Kindness – A+
You turned on the car warmer for me. You tell your sister that she looks nice.  She broke her wrist two weeks ago.  Since then, you’ve helped her carry her cello without anyone asking.

Empathy – A
Last week you accidentally hurt the kitten. You were beside yourself with grief. You seemed a bit hysterical. You don’t get an A+ because you could get better at empathy by thinking about what ‘may’ happen if you toss the kitty.  Thinking before action.

Expression – A-
When given the time and space you are very good expressing your wants and needs. To improve your score, work on expressing your wants and needs before I have to ask because I recognize sadness and frustration in your voice.

Thankful – A+
You never want for anything (except a xBox 1). You consistently tell me that all of your things are fine. You often say to me, “Why would I need another pair of shoes if one fits? Why would I need more shorts? I have two pair.” When I took you on a spontaneous trip to Minneapolis we arrived home at 11 PM and you said to me, “Mom, thank you for taking us. That was a fun trip.”

Recognition of Feelings A+
Maybe it’s all of the ‘work’ we’ve done since you were very young, but you are so adept at recognizing how other people are feeling. If I answer you in a tone that doesn’t resemble my normal cheery self you immediately ask what is wrong. You immediately ask if I am okay. This is NOT a skill that many people have, but you do.

Disposition – A-
I really appreciate the way you wake up every morning. 94% of the time you wake up and reciprocate my good morning. 94% of mornings you accept a good morning hug with a smile. A LOT of people wake up grouchy, and you are not one of them. You received an A- because I would like if you could reciprocate that disposition to ALL of your teachers…even when they ask you to do something you don’t want to do.

Generosity – A
You are always willing to give. You constantly think of things we can give away. You are quite unselfish and always willing to share (unless it is salsa). Last week during your football game two of your friends were hurt. You didn’t get to play much because you weren’t following the team. You stood by your friends while the team moved up and down the sidelines. You gave of your own playing time to make sure they would be okay.

Helpfulness – A+
I seriously cannot underscore how helpful you are. Any time I ask for help, you help. You never huff, or puff, you never say ‘not now,’ or reply that it’s ‘not my job.’ I ask, you help. That’s really phenomenal.

Smile – A+
Your smile lights up a room. Your smile and laugh are contagious. Your smile cures anything that ails the people around you. There is more power in that smile than you know. So, keep smiling…the world needs more you.

Love – A+
Your love is astounding. Your love makes me smile in the middle of the day. Your love supersedes the moment. Last week at your football game you turned around and motioned for me to come to the sideline. I did (albeit a bit annoyed because you were in the middle of the fourth quarter…not even during a time out). When I arrived you put your arm around me and whispered, “I love you” in my ear. I looked at you and you said, “That’s all. I just wanted you to know right then.” Tucker, that is amazing love.


My dearest child, please know that you have all the ‘requirements’ of being a good,  decent, and productive human being.  I know it doesn’t often feel like you excel.  You are not asked to be on special teams or special classes or special clubs.  I know you compare yourself to others.  Trust me when I tell you that very few of us grew up being invited to be a part of elite…well…elite anything.

The vast majority of us are trying to be better at the list above.  You already rock that list. So, you are well on your way to being a remarkable human.  All I ask of you – please be kind to other people in this world; no matter who they are, where they have been, what they have done, or what they do.  Be good and make it a better place.  I know you are able.


My Challenge to Fellow Teachers…

This year…just this year – could we, should we, would we…do something different.

How about a paragraph for each and every child.  Just one paragraph praising them for something that is NOT on a report card anywhere…here is a list to get us started (thank you, Maria Montessori).

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
  • Resilience
  • Motivation
  • Persistence
  • Curiosity
  • Question Asking
  • Humor
  • Endurance
  • Reliability
  • Enthusiasm
  • Civic-Mindedness
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Sense of Beauty
  • Sense of Wonder
  • Resourcefulness
  • Spontaneity
  • Humility

7 thoughts on “A Different Type of Assessment

  1. Pingback: Day #327 – Indexing | 366 Days of Autism

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