I was not the most motivated student. In fact, I was engaged and thought I'd be a homemaker for the rest of my life at 17. Like many intellectually gifted students, school was drudgery and I had low self-esteem. When I got scared right before the wedding, I ran away to a small college 800 miles from home to start fresh. I was poor, but there was a caring professor who mentored me (read others' posts about the importance of mentoring). She saw something in me that I didn't. Four years later, magna cum laude and many hours of being a waitress, a cashier, and a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches later, it dawned on me. Why didn't anyone tell me I could have earned my college tuition and fees, room and board, books, etc., by studying and making straight A's when I was in middle and high school? I could have done it pretty easily, actually. Yes, mentoring and inspiring our children should be a fundamental goal of every pre-college teacher. Now when all of my students say they want to go to college I ask if they have straight A's and are taking challenging classes. Yes, I have been teaching gifted children for 28 years, am on my second round of National Board certification, have a MA with a 4.0, and still tutor! When I tell my students my story, and how I wish I could have earned my college tuition starting in middle school, they sit up and take notice, especially after we look up the cost of their favorite college. I tell them that every time they do their homework and study for a test, they are getting paid - in scholarship money! I teach in a low-income rural area, so they take notice of the numbers we look up. And they start working.
P. S. For the invariable student who says I can't make straight A's, I ask them if they could make straight A's this quarter if I gave them $5000 for it. YES! they reply. You know the rest. (Then why can't you make them now?) Motivation is a powerful tool. We will be going on a field trip to a college campus soon!