I Didn’t Get Picked for the Team

jury-dutyWill I Be Chosen?

I recently had jury duty. Yes, I hear you groaning, thinking of your own civic duty fate that will, too, find its way to your mailbox one day.

It’s not like anyone really wants jury duty; I get that. I thought I’d immediately be excused due to the fact that I have a law degree and no attorney wants a person who also went to law school sitting with 11 other members of the panel possibly influencing their argument.

So I was surprised when after nearly a week of jury selection I was still in the running. As the Plaintiff’s counsel questioned each of the prospective jurors, I noticed that she used words such as “chosen” and “selected”. Defense Counsel used the same positive connotations to describe our potential service.

Each day I’d walk into the jury assembly room and greet the other prospective jurors. I got to know some of them by name and we chatted while we waited. During questioning, we got to know a lot about each other too. Our answers about our personal and professional lives were a nice foundation to start a conversation during breaks or when the judge was in chambers with the lawyers.

By Day 3, I was on the way to accepting my fate and starting to plan ahead for the two-week trial,”Okay. Yes, jury service is disruptive to my schedule and I have to rearrange student sessions and meetings with schools, but I could do this for a few weeks. I might even enjoy having a break, and I’d get a whole new perspective on our court system from the inside of the jury box.”

Just as I was starting to look forward to it, I got cut.

I Didn’t Get Picked for the Team

After being “Thanked and Excused” from jury service, it surprised me that I felt disappointed instead of relieved.

I started to think about the time I was in 4th Grade and we were on the school yard picking teams for dodge ball. I was picked last. I know! I’m still surprised that I wasn’t chosen. It’s times like these that I still think about that disappointment.

The Link Between Poor Grades & Feeling Left Out

Oftentimes, my students feel alone in their struggles at school. Most of the time their failing grades go hand-in-hand with social struggles too. After my students and I have worked together for a few weeks, they will often confide in me about their daily difficulties to fit in, to find their group, to be “selected”. It’s not uncommon for us to talk about how hard it is to find someone to eat lunch with, work on a group project with several other classmates, raise your hand in class for fear your question will be “dumb”, or navigate the world of the popular kids.

Not doing well academically is often a sign that something else is wrong. Doing poorly in school actually may not be about your child’s ability to understand the material.

Save for a learning difference or diagnosed learning disability, there are a whole host of other reasons your child has trouble in a subject or with school overall: Maybe the lesson is too advanced or not advanced enough; maybe it’s a time management issue because there are too many activities and other obligations; maybe she’s being bullied, maybe he just wants to fit in so badly that he’s willing to follow his friends even if they are “jumping off a bridge”.

Dealing with Disappointment

The point being: fitting in is a big deal. It’s part of the school experience and as such, it’s a big part of your child’s life. Sometimes we don’t get picked for the team. That’s a part of life, too, and we must learn to navigate through that disappointment.

Feel our feelings, as they say.

But no matter how old you get and no matter in what context the situation arises, the disappointment of not being chosen will stay with you, even as an adult who didn’t get picked for jury duty.

It’s the way we teach our children to handle life’s disappointments that make a difference in how they perceive life’s difficult moments. Let’s teach them to honor that feeling and then pick themselves up and find a healthy way forward.

As for me, I bounced back from the disappointment of not being picked for jury duty about 20 minutes later. But I’m sure I’ll get another chance to be selected in the future.

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Executive Director of Terry Tutors Specialized Education Services.

She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic Support, Behavior Management, Special Education Advocacy and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping struggling students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them in and out of the classroom.



We Are The Champions, My Friends

rita-pierson-featureNo matter what school you went to or what zip code you live in, the one thing you desire the most is for someone to believe in you. If you don’t have that, your self-worth takes a nose dive regardless of race, gender, or class.

It Doesn’t Matter How Much or Little Our Students Have, They All Need a Champion

This is what I see firsthand. I work with students who have a lot and students who have a little.  I work with those who have mild/moderate/severe disabilities, kids who exhibit a propensity for a Learning Difference or Behavior Challenge and those who go undiagnosed but struggle due to an outside-of-school issue, like their parents’ divorce or internal anxiety. But the common theme that spans all of my students’ stories, is the human need for a champion.

A +2 and a Smiley Face

A non-verbal student is no different from a gifted student when it comes to their need for a cheerleader in their corner. Each child– each person– deserves to have that someone who can see their potential despite what appears as a failure. The late Dr. Rita Pierson, a long-time teacher who gave an amazing Ted Talk on education, said that she once gave a student an F but instead of circling a -18/20 on the paper, she instead chose to put a smiley face on the failed test with a +2/20. Why? Because it changes the game by changing the perspective of the student and the teacher.

Does Objective Success Exist?

As an educator myself, I struggle with whether objective success actually exists. Questions like Should we be measuring our students by an objective standard when they are all different?  and What really is the definition of success?  make me think about what we’re all really working towards. It seems that when we’re kids our goal is to be like everyone else, but when we become adults we realize our goal should now be to find our own success through individual achievement.

I choose to champion the path of individual achievement and measure success by whether a student has met their individual goals in hopes that building upon this foundation will bring about his or her own success. Because to be like everyone else should not be the ultimate goal. Instead, to be our best selves is the life lesson we should be teaching our students.

Dr. Rita Pierson’s Powerful, Funny and True Ted Talk

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student.  Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.

Put Your Thinking Cap On & Learn About Multiple Intelligences

thinking capWith my itty-bitty Preschool and Kindergarten students we begin our tutoring sessions by putting on our Thinking Caps, like this one that I recently made for Gavin.

Young students generally need a concrete reminder to distinguish when it’s time to work and time to play. Kinesthetic Learning, also known as Tactile Learning, is a style of learning intelligence whereby the student uses a physical activity to understand a new concept. Kinesthetic learners process information by doing, as opposed to processing information by hearing (auditory), speaking (verbal), or seeing (visual). For example, those who process information kinesthetically learn better by physically putting on a Thinking Cap to mark the time to begin a more formalized lesson, swinging a bat to illustrate the mathematical concept of radius, or holding a slinky to help them break down a word into syllables. By the way, I’m a big fan of Slinkys! They’re fantastic physical tools for students who need a little help with phonological awareness. By using a slinky the child can physically hold it in their hands and play with its accordion-like structure to separate each syllable into its appropriate parts. So Animal becomes An/I/Mal.

Kinesthetic Learning is just one of the Theories of Multiple Intelligences, put forth by Dr. Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Multiple Intelligence TheoryFrames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Garder’s theory embraces various forms of learning that make up a person’s intelligence: (1) Logical-Mathematical, (2) Spatial, (3) Linguistic, (4) Bodily-Kinesthetic, (5) Musical, (6) Interpersonal (7) Intrapersonal (8) Naturalistic, and (9) Existential. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences presents a conflicting point of view compared to the General Intelligence Theory that many of our IQ tests are based upon. However, we’re beginning to recognize more and more that there is not just one way of learning and a student can no longer be generalized. In fact, some schools like Kirk O’ The Valley embrace The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, weaving in various learning styles to teach to each type of intelligence. Their goal is to the teach to the whole student. Although it may seem unconventional, their students go on to complete their middle and high school education at some of the top college-prep and academically rigorous schools in Los Angeles, where they in turn are prepared to attend some of the top of colleges in the nation.

Mmm… very interesting, isn’t. it. So how best do you learn? Put on your Thinking Cap and see what Multiple Intelligences you have here!

Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

Welcome to Honest Approaches!

_MG_0774Welcome to Honest Approaches, the parent training extension of Terry Tutors. We’re excited you’re here!

Terry Tutors provides Private Tutoring & Family Coaching for students within the Greater Los Angeles area. Throughout the years, we’ve noticed something interesting: sometimes when there is a behavioral issue in the classroom, there is something else going on outside the classroom. Not to fear, we’re here to help! In our SuperNanny®-like style, we have had the privilege to help countless parents instill healthy boundaries and better communication with their families as a whole. Learning to say “No” in a positive way is just one of the many techniques we can teach you.

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