Reflection on grades, report cards & personal change

Good morning; let us remember that we are in God’s holy presence.

 After Sunday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had this to say: “Losses always find a way to recalibrate how you see yourself. And we obviously have a lot of work to do.” 

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Today, I’d like to apply these sentiments to our academic and spiritual lives, with the observation that “Report cards always find a way to recalibrate how you see yourself. And we obviously have a lot of work to do.”  During the last day or two, your report card arrived in your parent or guardian’s in-box, via email. Twelve years ago, when La Salle Academy used to mail report cards home through “snail mail,”  aka the U.S. Postal service, my daughter would race in the front door when we got home and sort through the mail, so that she could look at her report card before I could. I’ve heard other Lasalle alumni say they used to do the same thing.

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It’s almost as if students think that by looking at their 1st quarter grades before Mom or Dad can see them, they’ll be able to come up with a quick excuse when their parents ask them about their lowest grade. Or, you might have to explain why you got one of those annoying teacher Comments— like “Does not complete assigned work,” or “Often distracted by technology.” Does this sound like you?  Sometimes those report card comments can be more revealing than the number-grade itself.

 I’m in a unique position to see all of this unfold; on one-hand, I’m a religion teacher and I turned in grades for my 5 sections of freshmen Religion; on the other hand, I’m the parent of freshman and junior sons in college, and I often hear about their struggles- the stress of tests, papers, quizzes, class projects and grades every day. 

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And I’m wondering if we might apply Tom Brady’s idea about recalibration to our personal lives, as we think about our grades this week. All of us, teachers included, can identify specific classes where we fell short this quarter. Take a moment and think about the class in which you struggle the most. Is it due to lack of effort? Is it hard to get motivated to do your homework after school, or in the evening? Is the subject matter overwhelming for you? Maybe you’re having difficulty relating to the teacher?  Maybe you feel anxious (or jealous) when you compare your results with those of your peers. 

We probably wonder sometimes, “Which of my classmates scored highest? “How come I only got a B+, but the person next to me squeaked out an A-?” Even though LaSalle Academy did away with class ranking, we still find ourselves in a competitive environment. Who doesn’t enjoy the accolades that come with earning 1st honors? And even though our school has embraced the Challenge Success program, our seniors still feel pressure to get into their first choice school for college.

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I believe that sometimes we forget to ask God to enter into the picture. Are you noticing that with the end of Daylight Savings Time this past Sunday and the changing of clocks by one hour, that there is more light in the sky in the morning, when you head off to school?  For Christians, “Christ is our Light.” I think we need to ask God for more of his light-more of his Son, Jesus- each morning during the second quarter. So as we finish this prayer, begin by offering up your report card to Jesus and ask Him to give you the grace to help YOU change for the better—to help you become the best version of yourself. In addition to renewing and redoubling our academic efforts, some of us need a spiritual recalibration, too. We call this conversion. Today, ask for God’s grace to give you the strength and courage to change your spiritual life for the better. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to be there for you, to help shoulder your particular burden academic or emotional. 

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Let us pray: O Spirit of Wisdom, we ask you for guidance as we reflect on our 1st quarter efforts today. Shower down your wisdom on the parents and teachers who will huddle up tonight, to help us find a clearer path to our academic victories.  Dearest Jesus, please be with us as we journey through the academic challenges of the second quarter. Our Father in Heaven, remind us each day that you love us unconditionally, no matter what numbers appear next to our names. Help us remember that each of us is made in your image. Help us honor that image by doing our best at all times—not only in our school work, but in the little things we do to help others succeed in life, as we seek your divine Providence in our lives.

St. John Baptist de LaSalle.[Pray for us.  Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Prayer for Nov. 7, 2019, David Martinez, Religion Teacher