Working with about 500 educators today, in a full-day workshop, a high school student who was there to help out with the day, asked if he could sit in and listen. I offered the invitation to all of the students that were there, but only one decided to stay. Yet if you have any students in a room full of educators, you should always give them the opportunity to share their thoughts on the day.
The student’s name was Luke, and I asked him, what would he hope from the educators that had been in the session all the day. He had said that far too often, we deem some kids to be “bad kids”, and instead of asking why they are acting that way or getting to the heart of the matter, we just continue to label them “bad kids”, and we push them toward the same path. It is kind of like “digging out of a hole”; the more we dig, the hole only gets deeper, and we only become more stuck.
He was welcomed with large applause for advocating for others, and I really appreciated his words. This thinking is not simply limited to students as well. There have been teachers who have may not have had the best start to their career, but instead of recognizing their own growth and change, they get labeled and become perpetually stuck in what they are doing. The more they hear a negative label, the more it sticks, and the more they become with what they are labeled in the eyes of others.
When I was in school administration, I remember that when students would get suspended or sent to the office, I did everything I could to separate the mistake from the person. I would go out of my way to have conversations with the students, when they returned to school, about ANYTHING other than what had happened, at first. Eventually, we would get to what had happened and their plan moving forward, but I wanted students to know that I cared. Kids get stuck with labels, as do adults.
But some people just need one person to believe in them. I was on my way out of education until I luckily worked at a school with an administrator that didn’t just believe in me, but ensure that I knew she believed me. There is a difference between the two, and it is important that it is noted.
I was so proud of a student getting this at such a young age. I am a big believer that we are creators of our destiny, but having people believe in you along the way, sure makes the road a lot less bumpy.
As many schools around North America are well into the school year, remember that a fresh start can happen daily, or even more frequently, and kids need adults who show they believe in them. We need to sometimes hit the restart button with others instead of the repeat.