Sunday, April 5, 2009

Your Reputation Precedes You

One of the main reasons I became a teacher was because of the title of this piece. When I first started teaching, actually before I walked into the classroom I was briefed on my students. I was told warned of diff personalities, behaviors, ticks etc. I took this info and ignored it as I didn't think it was fair or warranted to give it much thought before actually meeting my students. I don't think many teachers do this. Actually, I know they don't.

In an unforgettable conversation I had with a dear friend of mine, she told me about a student she had whose reputation preceded him. He had an older sibling who was a bully and a real hand full for his teachers. When the younger bro started school, his teachers took one look at his last name & labeled him. Just like his brother. Problem is the kid was nothing like his brother. My friend, a 7th grade teacher, saw this and his potential and tried to help him see this in himself. She never had a problem with him.

By the time he got to her, however, he,d started to believe his predetermined destiny and he became like his brother. He spent years being labeled and instead of fighting to prove his teachers wrong - he epitomized what they believed he was based on his brother's bad behavior.

My dear friend ended her story by telling me that a few years later the kid dropped out of high school. "He didn't make it," she said. I was dumbstruck & heartbroken.

Teachers have the power to change and mold lives for the better and, unfortunately, for the worse. This kid had one teacher who believed in him, but after years of conditioning, he chose the path of least resistance & proved his teachers right. They saw in him a bad kid and so that is what he became.

I was warned that some of my kids would be more challenging than others, but I was unwilling to believe it until I saw it myself. True, a lot of what they told me was accurate, but I know it now because I know them, because I have spent time with them. I love them & accept their limitations and their laziness.

There is nothing I can do about the kid that didn't make it. I can, however, make sure that I do everything in my power to never perpetuate a label given to my students without giving them a fighting chance to prove me, and the rest of their teachers, all wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there!

    This is an important piece!

    You are right on so many levels!

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


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