Grading yourself

Family Life

Dawn Reed

By Dawn Reed

Guest Columnist

My friend “J.B.” and I were having a deep conversation about school the other day. (He is in seventh grade.) I had heard he is a really funny guy and was quizzing him about it. He was desperate to know my source!

I told him about a problem I had in eighth grade. That year, I sat by Bradley, the funniest guy in the world. I never got in trouble for talking; it was for laughing. I explained to J.B. about conduct grades way back then in the 1900’s. We got a grade for how we acted in class. And nobody ever questioned the teacher. The teacher was the boss and that was it. The permanent ink stayed on your permanent record no matter what.

All through eighth grade Bradley said funny things and I laughed. He never talked loudly, just whispered so no one else heard. (I’ve struggled all my life to keep giggles in. That must have been when it started.) Bradley joked, I laughed and so it went all day, every day. Gradually my conduct grade went down. Starting with an A+ at the beginning of the year, it dwindled until the last six weeks I had a “D”! Praise the Name of the Lord in heaven, the school year ended. Had there been one more grade period, someone else would be typing this. I would have been killed in my young life. An “F” in conduct?! Good grief! IA bad grade in conduct was unacceptable!

J.B. said he may or may not have some of the same problems. I feel sorry for the kid that sits beside him!

Can you remember report cards? How did you do? It was the time when we were graded for how we acted, our attendance, how we got along with others and, I was about to forget, how much we knew about math, history and English! Report cards were the way everybody knew how we were doing and what we needed to work on. (Oh yeah…there was no cash for good grades back then.)

I grade myself all year long at different times. There’s the daily grading-after work and right before I go to sleep. I review the day, pondering if I did my best, encouraged others, where I messed up and what I need to do better. (Do I need to fix anything I screwed up?) I do a mid-year eval at vacation time: how am I doing, what needs improvement, how is my “conduct”?

New Year’s is a great time to do a personal report card; looking back, but looking ahead.

Let me ask you a personal question: how are you doing? The year 2016 has just passed and now here we stand with a brand new 2017. It’s a clean slate. Why not evaluate where you are and where you’re going? Call it routine maintenance. Even a Lamborghini needs to be tuned up now and then. (I had to Google how to spell that.)

Get out a piece of paper. Fold it in half. It’s now your official 2016 report card. Write “conduct” in all caps at the top. Grade yourself. What did you do well? What do you need to work on? Did you read your Bible? Did you help those in need? Did you work too much? Did you go to church? Did you complain constantly? Did you make people laugh? Be honest.

I know I need some work so I’m making a list of things I need to do better. I need to listen more and speak less. James 1:19 says: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (I act that out when I say it, with hands behind ears and then covering my mouth.) Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a good example of that. Luke 2:19 tells that she treasured all that happened and pondered it in her heart. I bet lots of people around me wish I would do more pondering instead of talking.

One of my New Year Bible verses is John 3:30: He must become greater; I must become less. So, I need to stop letting all of my sentences start with “I”. It’s not all about me, my or mine!

I have some other areas I’m working on like watching less TV and reading more. I want to encourage more and see people who are invisible. That made me sound crazy. I mean see people who “seem” invisible or “feel” invisible. There are people we pass on a regular basis that never get noticed or spoken to. They are just falling through the cracks of life. I want to SEE them and speak, be kind, encourage-whatever. (Bradley would say seeing invisible people would make me some kind of super hero!)

We have a whole new year! Twelve months, 52 weeks, 365 days and lots of hours and minutes. What are we going to do with all of them?! Let’s make our moments count!

I’ve been trying to come up with a cheesy slogan for 2017. So far, it looks like “In 2017, be the best me I’ve ever been!”

Dawn Reed Reed
Family Life
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