This Sucks!


“This sucks!”

“This is awesome!”

If you’re reading this piece and you work with children, then the chances are likely that you’ve heard these responses numerous times. The first one we hate and the second one we crave. To be quite honest, I hate the first response! It’s flip! It’s rude! And I can’t stand it when it comes out of a child’s mouth!

But, which response really helps us the most? When a student lets us know that something is awesome, we feel great and we feel like all of our hard work and planning has been worthwhile. Or, as an administrator, when I here that something is awesome and I have reached some type of accord with a student, then I feel like I have really connected.

On the other hand, when a student tells us something sucks, we get angry and we feel like that student just doesn’t get it. Or they don’t get us. The rest of the kids don’t feel that way, so this rude smart aleck kid must be wrong!

But which statement really pushes us further? Which statement really keeps us up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to teach and lead? Which statement helps ignite paradigm shifts?

It’s not this is awesome. When we here something is awesome we feel good and we keep doing what we are doing and we keep getting what we’ve been getting. And oftentimes that is fine.

On the other hand, when we hear something sucks we go back to our mental drawing boards and try to devise new ways to become better. To become more effective. We as self-motivated educators and leaders will not rest until we have either changed the student’s mindset or changed the situation.

I believe if we are really honest, it’s the this sucks moments that have taken place in our own heads that have propelled us to innovate and change and improve.

paradigm shift

Twitter, satchat, edcamps, digital leadership, genius hour, PLN’S, etc. It wasn’t that long ago that these things didn’t exist. But leaders and educators got motivated enough to change the status quo. They got tired of the way things were and so they did something about it! Maybe in their minds, things sucked just enough that they wanted to do something about it.

I’m not suggesting that every time a student is upset about something and spouts out this sucks that they have something to teach us. What I am suggesting though is that we don’t just immediately dismiss their remark without first hearing what it is that they think sucks.

It may just be that this student does have something to teach us. It may just be that this student is, in their own flip way, trying to tell us that what we are doing isn’t working for them and we need to try something different! And quickly!

I’m just sayin’, it sucks when we don’t know!



Steve Jobs


  1. Nice spin Jon. I agree with you, dismissing these comments would be wrong. Understanding why is important…and then adjusting is essential.

    The people I have a high belief in are the ones that continuously self-reflect and have a growth mindset. These are the individuals that the negative comments will hit the hardest. I can tell you what hurts me the most, it’s the comment I used to hear often…”I hate school.” I’ve made it my mission to try and change this! Using the negative comments as motivators is a good way to flip it.

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