Then it came to me...
It came to me as I was sitting in my office with a second grader. He was talking to a police officer I had asked to meet him. Not because he was in trouble, but because I was hoping to help form a relationship. I was reaching out for something to help him connect and help him see a future since he wants to be a police officer when he grows up. It was the first day of a positive mentorship (hopefully!).
I'll call him Sam.
Sam has been one of my tough ones, even as a first grader last year. I am constantly working with him. What do we know about Sam? He's struggling academically. He's missing foundational understandings that are necessary for him to progress in reading and math. He can act defiant. He'll look right at you and do exactly what you asked him not to do. He's had people give up on him. He's funny. He craves attention. He seeks approval from peers and adults. He comes from a family that speaks another language. He's made improvements. He constantly pushes back on staff and I feel like he is waiting for us to give up on him. He makes me smile. He makes me cry, and sometimes he frustrates me. Somedays he makes me feel like I can't make a difference.
But when it comes down to it, I lead because of him.
I believe that every child needs someone that loves them no matter what. Every child deserves someone to see the best in them even when they can't see it themselves (or show it).
There may be good days and tough days, but I won't give up on him no matter what.
I lead not only for Sam, but all the other "Sams" out there. As a leader I hope to inspire teachers to always see the good in students and never give up on them.
Ted Talk - Rita Pierson - Every Kid Needs a Champion
"Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be." Rita Pierson