No matter what school you went to or what zip code you live in, the one thing you desire the most is for someone to believe in you. If you don’t have that, your self-worth takes a nose dive regardless of race, gender, or class.
It Doesn’t Matter How Much or Little Our Students Have, They All Need a Champion
This is what I see firsthand. I work with students who have a lot and students who have a little. I work with those who have mild/moderate/severe disabilities, kids who exhibit a propensity for a Learning Difference or Behavior Challenge and those who go undiagnosed but struggle due to an outside-of-school issue, like their parents’ divorce or internal anxiety. But the common theme that spans all of my students’ stories, is the human need for a champion.
A +2 and a Smiley Face
A non-verbal student is no different from a gifted student when it comes to their need for a cheerleader in their corner. Each child– each person– deserves to have that someone who can see their potential despite what appears as a failure. The late Dr. Rita Pierson, a long-time teacher who gave an amazing Ted Talk on education, said that she once gave a student an F but instead of circling a -18/20 on the paper, she instead chose to put a smiley face on the failed test with a +2/20. Why? Because it changes the game by changing the perspective of the student and the teacher.
Does Objective Success Exist?
As an educator myself, I struggle with whether objective success actually exists. Questions like Should we be measuring our students by an objective standard when they are all different? and What really is the definition of success? make me think about what we’re all really working towards. It seems that when we’re kids our goal is to be like everyone else, but when we become adults we realize our goal should now be to find our own success through individual achievement.
I choose to champion the path of individual achievement and measure success by whether a student has met their individual goals in hopes that building upon this foundation will bring about his or her own success. Because to be like everyone else should not be the ultimate goal. Instead, to be our best selves is the life lesson we should be teaching our students.
Dr. Rita Pierson’s Powerful, Funny and True Ted Talk
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.