Every kid needs a champion.

Yesterday we had our first full staff meeting. We talked about some really interesting things (which I will probably end up expanding upon at a later date) however one of the things that stood out for me the most was a TED Talk that was shown.

I had seen this TED Talk before and when it was projected onto the screen, I nearly squealed from excitement. Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion is about truly knowing your students and building relationships with students. I love this talk because I follow Rita’s philosophy that if you can build the confidence of your student and make them feel cared about, this is what will help them want to learn. She reminds us that some students don’t have anybody else cheering them on and that’s why it is so important that at least their teacher does.

I have had students who were very difficult to teach but I enjoy finding out what makes them “tick.” There was one Year 9 boy a few years ago in my class who refused to take tests for anyone and so nobody knew what classes to place him in. He really refused – he even cut up my maths test with a craft knife. The school put him in remedial classes where he proceeded to act out and disrupt the class.

I spent the time to talk to him at lunch one day and found out that he was frustrated and upset and said all the teachers thought he was dumb. I took the time to explain what had happened and while we were talking I found out he was really into tabletop games, including Warcraft. I told him that I played Warcraft too and we bonded over this. He wanted to know more details about what factions I played in the games. I made a deal with him – if he took my maths test, I would talk to him about Warcraft.

You should have seen the looks on the other teachers’ faces when I showed them this boy’s maths test. From that point on, I was his champion. All it took was a conversation… and to tell him some of my Warcraft strategies.

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