Today, when I got to the basketball game, a few students, and a parent asked "Mr. Harrold, why'd you bail on us last night?!" I explained the situation, and the parent said "wow, the kids were able to stay up all night and push through and you weren't? I bet you feel pretty silly." I laughed (assuming she was just giving me a hard time) and plead guilty. My two-hour visit, late as it was, hardly anything compared to staying for the totality of the event. But I also thought to myself "wow...tough crowd".
When I first started attending lots of school events a couple years ago, I used to get comments like "wow, you're attending a lot of events." While I still get some of those, I've noticed that more often, I'll get the "why weren't you at...?" or "I can't believe you missed..." or "wait, you left early...?" when it happens I can't make a certain event. Discouraging? Maybe slightly, but I also know I set a high bar for myself, and apparently others have raised the bar for me as well. In the same way, I notice this is something I do with my students all the time. It's the lower-performing students that often get more encouragement than criticism (because they need to at least do something before I can start nit-picking), while the students at the top of the class are the one's getting the criticism. It's not because I want to keep them miserable, but because I clearly need to raise the bar for them if they're going to get anything valuable out of my class. Is it fair? Well...that depends on what "fair" means. It's certainly not identical, but it's "fair" in that it leads all students to grow. The ones who deserve the least criticism get the most so that they can go beyond my original expectations. It's probably one of the hardest things to convey to the high-performing students (they're always wondering why they're never "perfect") but it's probably in their best interest.
With that in mind, it's clear I have a tough crowd waiting for the rest of the school year. Looks like I'll need to up my caffeine intake next year and stay for the duration. If the freshmen can do it, that's a challenge I'll have to accept.