OK, so you've probably accepted that fact, and you've undoubtedly heard that last line:
That's the kid who needs you the most.
But it's hard, isn't it?
This year, I've had to become a champion for certain kids. I've had to be more positive with some kids than I am used to. They just don't get a good feeling from peers, from teachers, from adults, from parents, from people.
They just don't get it from school, from home...
You get the idea. By their own admission, "nobody" shows them love.
They don't win awards. They don't earn rewards. They don't get complimented by other teachers.
So where does a teacher begin? Not by sending them into the hallway. Not by writing office referrals. Not by putting them in the corner and ignoring them. Where does a teacher begin? That's an internal question. It's one I have to ask myself this year, when I have a class that puts me to the test.
Don't get me wrong: every class is a challenge...and every class in recent years seems to have a distinct shortcoming and personality. A couple of years ago, I had a class of kids who were easily offended: it was not a group that an adult could tease and play with as openly as others. Another year, it was a group who thought they were entitled to something extra: there were kids at every level of economic backgrounds in that group, some who thought society owed them a break, and others who felt like they had earned respect simply because of their status.
This year is full of some very sweet and lovable children, but unfortunately a few do not think they deserve to feel good about school, their families, or themselves. For thirty years, I have seen these children consistently beat themselves up. They give me comments like, "My life is awful," "I'm not having a good day," or "Nobody cares about me." I have found myself emptying my heart to them to assure them they are loved - if not by anyone else, at least by me. I have found myself being the only positive adult role model for them to look to for support. Sometimes I feel like they don't hear "I love you" from anyone else.
I realize that's not all true, because I know these kids. Perhaps their attitudes and their outlooks on life are blatantly negative because they have been conditioned to expect nothing but negativity in their lives. They have positioned themselves in front of the cannon of depression for a few years now, and their perception of life is an open wound.
That said, it's high time someone convinced them otherwise. Too many teachers fail to see this. Too many fall into the trap of adding to their funk instead. They are too quick to multiply the negativity in students lives. They zone in on these "trouble" children and expect them to be trouble.
Our principal shared this (below) with me, last week, and it went perfectly with what I had already written in this article. I really like the thoughts here, as it includes the honesty of frustration at the end.