He was an angry child, you know.
The clenched fists. The stare that could take you down. The raised voice with the yells of unfairness.
“It wasn’t me…” traveled down the hall, always emanating from our classroom.
He was the angry child.
The kicked-back chairs and the tossed desk told his story loudly.
The playground fights, the raised fists told it as well.
So did the suspensions.
The missed assignments.
The checklist and the endless meetings.
He was an angry child, or so they said.
At least, that is all you would see if that was all you noticed.
If you didn’t look further or take the time, you would have missed everything else that he was.
Because did you know, he was a dancer? That he could play ball with the best of them?
That he could hold a tiny baby and surround it with love, thanking you for the chance to say hello.
That he was funny, his smile would light up the room, his jokes would crack us all up, even when I tried to teach.
That he liked to read when he found the right book.
That while his life was far from easy, he still had love? He wanted to give love.
It would have been so easy to only see the angry. After all, how often do we only see a child for their loudest quality? How often do we so easily dismiss everything else they are as we try to fix their problem, as we try to fix them? How often does their story reach us before they do and already we have prepared everything we think we need without knowing if they need it. We get stuck in our thought patterns and only see the flaws, the areas of growth, and not everything else that makes them the person they are.
How easily we compartmentalize children to only be one story, while we speak of growth mindset and embracing differences. To only have one facet and let that become the only thing we see in every interaction, in every discussion? Do we ever stop to consider how the narrative we dictate becomes the story that unfolds? Do we ever wonder if the children we teach can see the labels we have for them? (I think they do). And while some may fight with everything they have to not be who we think they are, others may simply shrug their shoulders and accept the destiny we have had a part in designing and become the kid that they think we see.
It would have been so easy to only see the angry. To only discuss the fights. To only share the bad, the areas needed for growth. But we didn’t. We couldn’t. Because he deserved more than what he had gotten before.
Because sure, he was an angry child, but he grew up to be a college student. A football player on a scholarship, telling you he is going to be a PE teacher some day. One who checks in once in a while, showing of his GPA (3.36 baby!) that may have just made you cry. Who may not be at the end of his journey just yet but has come so far already.
He was an angry child, you know, but he was also a child who needed more love than he had gotten before. More understanding than I had ever given before. More patience than I thought possible. And he grew up and he becomes something more. Not because of us, but despite us at times.
So what do you see when you see that child? Who do you think they will become?
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.