Rally Like a Cheerleader

cheerleaderIn 10th grade I transferred schools, again. This was my third school in three years and I vowed this was the year I would be more outgoing and get more involved to make the most of my high school experience.

And so I did. Or, I should say, I tried.

Softball

I tried out for softball but the sport I had played as a wee elementary school student was now full of fast balls that whizzed right by my head. Um, no thank you.

Flag Team

I tried out for the flag team but after a few weeks of band practice in the balmy, late summer, Midwestern heat I couldn’t take it. I chalked it up to heat-related wimpiness.

Cheerleading

Finally, I tried out for cheerleading. I so badly wanted to be a cheerleader. To be part of the pep rallies and walk around in my cool uniform. I could belong.

I practiced the moves once, twice, three times over until I knew them cold. This was going to be my thing. I walked into auditions pretty confident about my choice. The other girls, who had already fulfilled their high school destinies, called us individually front and center to perform.

My journey to high school popularity began. And then it ended during the same three minutes.

See, we learned three different cheers during our practice session and during my audition I performed various moves from all of them in one. It was a sad sight.

To avoid my perceived embarrassment, I preemptively quit. Only later did I find out that the cheer squad was looking for a flyer and since I was petite enough I probably would have gotten the job, despite my failed attempt.

I Rallied Then

I kicked myself about my decision to quit for weeks, nay years! I just wanted to solidify my own high school destiny by being part of something that would come with built-in friends and a coveted title. I didn’t want to start from scratch again. I didn’t want to have to define my own high school standing.

I auditioned for orchestra and choir. These were things I was good at so I fell back on those known skill set. Theater and debate would be added later on. And soon high school would be over and college would present me with a plethora of opportunity to redefine who and what I wanted to be.

I Rally Now

Today, I have a career I love and one I defined based on the many paths I wandered along. I love it to pieces and I will continue on its course forever. It would not have happened, however, if I had not tried something new, failed, taken the bits I did like and mixed it up with something else I tried and failed at once again.

Each time, though, I rallied.

I got up and started again with something new, taking the lessons I had learned from the previous job, school, class, friendship, roommate, boyfriend, car, apartment, travel, argument, conversation, debate, and laughable moment to heart. Never forgetting that each experience, whether I perceived it as good or bad, was one that contributed to who I am today.

Be Your Own Cheerleader

I cheered myself on and kept going in spite of the setbacks. When I couldn’t do it myself, I turned to others in my life who could.

We all need that parent, teacher, friend, partner, confidant who is our cheerleader. But we must, also, learn to be our own cheerleader too.

As a student of life, there will be times when it feels like the dream is too far away and the struggle is too much but do not let that feeling linger too long.

Instead, rally.

Get up and get going.

The world needs you to rally for your own success.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services. Christine truly loves helping students realize their inner potential and the possibilities that await them: “To be a part of a student’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best feeling in the world because I know I’m helping that student build foundational confidence that will lead to a successful path, not just in school but throughout life!”

My Student Attended Her Own IEP & Loved It!

IEP for aspergers child11 Years Old and already CEO of her own IEP!

I was so impressed when my student’s school suggested that she attend her own IEP Meeting. As meetings go, IEP’s have the reputation of getting contentious rather quickly and losing sight of the real reason why parents, psychologists, teachers, learning specialists, principals, advocates, and attorneys are sitting at the round table in the first place– the student.

Humanizing PLOPs, Goals & Services

But something amazing happened when my 11-year-old student sat in the big chair between her learning specialist and her mother, and joined the conversation. Instead of a heated debate over standard deviations, we were able to humanize the plan of action and include her in the review of all of those Present Levels of Performance (PLOPs), Goals, and Services.

Our “adult speak” had to be tailored to her “kid level” of understanding. By doing so, it made all of the attendees that much more cognizant of what we were saying and how we were saying it. We asked for her input, addressed her concerns, and clarified her job to continue to work hard and work towards her very best.

It was probably the most honest, quick, and productive IEP I’d ever been to, and I have my student to thank for that.

Student “Buy In” & Self-Advocacy

My student felt important because she got to attend her own IEP, a key component to her “buy in” and, ultimately, her ownership over her own education. It was just as much a lesson for me as it was for her, and it got me thinking: taking into consideration age and appropriateness of course, perhaps having our students attend their own IEPs should be the best practice.

After all, what better way to meet her annual self-advocacy goal than to learn to advocate at her own IEP.

Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student, which includes Academic, Behavior, Special Education Advocacy, and School Placement services.  Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.