Once upon a time there was a little 2nd grade boy. He was new to a school, and he brought with him, all his problems and issues. Sent to live with dad after mom "couldn't take it any more", a pre-primer reading level, an evil stepmother, and siblings who did not like him, he didn't stand a chance.
After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that this child was a "problem". Inappropriate language, bullying, no work, etc...His teacher (not me) knew this, but she also realized that he came from a place of trouble. So, instead of scolding him constantly, she decided to love him. Instead of throwing up her hands in despair, she found ways to get him the help he needed. And most of all, she loved him, and he knew it. He was disciplined, and he had consequences, but, she loved him nonetheless.
While she struggled to help him, "they" began to plan how they would get him out of their school. They had his teacher attend meetings, and asked her about his aggressive nature. She refused to go along with their program, and forced them to help him, instead of making him "someone else's problem." And he changed. Little by little, he changed. By the end of the year, he wasn't a brand new child, but he wasn't the child that had entered that school. And as difficult as it was, his teacher made a decision to retain him because he wasn't ready.
Fast forward. His dad is in jail for a while, so he has no buffer between himself, stepmom, and siblings. But saddest of all, he has no place to be loved. His new teacher sees him as a problem. She recounts stories of how she disciplines his every little transgression to his former teacher with relish. Where is her humanity? She resents the fact that every morning, yes, every morning, he visits his former teacher. Where else can he get love? Where else can he have someone listen to his stories of a life that would be difficult for most adults? Unfortunately, I have no idea how this story ends, maybe his former teacher is enough to buffer the negativity in his life, and allow him to change for the better, maybe not.
I think of those two words Angela Maiers promotes, "You Matter." I am blessed, I know I matter. I have many people in my lives who let me know that. Others are not so fortunate, especially our students. We have to remember that we may be the only good thing that happens to them all day. We have to care. Sometimes we have to overlook their negatives and try to find a positive. We have to let them know they matter.
Update: He moved so I really don't know how his story ends. But, I know in his next grade, with a different teacher, he thrived.