How we view and help reveal the inner potential of children will shape them into who they were meant to be. I recall a time where I was working with a grade schooler, Gita (named changed) who was struggling with peer connection and connection with her teacher. The mother was explaining to me that her daughter had been labeled, loud, argumentative, opinionated, challenging and disruptive. This was heartbreaking for this mother who could see the inner beauty of her child. We spent some time listing some of the attributes that her daughter possessed that countered some of these negative labels. The mother came up with words like independent and assertive. I added words like unwavering, determined and fearless.
In my talks with Gita about what she wanted to be when she grew up I uncovered many ambitions. One of her greatest dreams was to be the first woman president. We worked on adapting her passionate personality into skills she would need to be president. Gita’s mother spent time partnering with the teacher to help her acknowledge her daughters strengths and help her use these skills to shape her future. Many years later this little girl flourished into a beautiful and independent woman. She became one of the few women in her family to graduate from high school.
There has been much research to show that when a teacher has high expectations and makes these expectations known to his or her students it can shape the course on how well they succeed in school. Often the first step in student success begins with self-reflection. This takes patience and creativity on our parts at times. It takes diligence and relationship. If we step back and take time to understand the marble and discover its inner beauty then we will be prepared to “chip away” and help bring out the inner sculpture in the children and youth we work with. As educators we can help them find their place.