This month's article is asking you to challenge the labels given by others and to never accept any opinions as fact. Some teachers and staff can sew a label so tightly onto a child that it can be hard to rip off, but you must do it. No child deserves to be stuck with a label given by any teacher (or person) from their past.
If you're reading your class list for the new year and find that you already recognise a few names from informal conversations or complaints around the staffroom, you have a choice; you could continue reading from the same script that child has been hearing for the past year or you could make up your own mind. Write a new story for that student. Tell that student that you're excited to teach them. Tell that student that you know you're going to have a great year together. Show that student that this year will be different.
Build strong relationships and you will notice the difference in a child's attitude and behaviour. Your belief in them can spark a change in the way that child views himself or herself. Forget those comments about "the bad kid" and "the naughty kid". Focus on the "kid". This is someone's son or daughter. This is a child who will be shaped by the names that he or she has been called growing up.
It won't always be easy, but it will be worth it. Be prepared to have your hard work and kind intentions questioned. Keep showing up day after day, despite when you're let down or disappointed. Keep showing up!
Separate the child from the behaviour.
James is not an angry boy.
James is a boy who can feel angry because he is learning to improve his patience as he has grown up an only child. He is learning how to share and take turns.
Sarah is not a violent girl.
Sarah is a girl who can kick and punch others because of her past trauma. She is learning to respect the boundaries of others. She is also learning to calm her emotions and understand how her physical actions can hurt others.
The students in your class need at least one adult who will look beyond their past mistakes, and see what they have the potential to achieve in a loving and caring classroom environment. I promise you that a children are receptive to what you believe they can achieve, so believe that they can grow and change with your guidance.