Be The One… Who Knows Their Story

Who is that student? What is their story? How are you going to help them succeed?

I was a 2nd grader at Olive Elementary, in Vista CA. We were a year round school and I was on the green track. One of the months that we were off track, I can remember my phone ringing and Mrs. Lewis was on the other end. My teacher had just invited me to have pizza with her and a few other students during our time off of school. I was super excited! She asked us all about our lives. She wanted to know what we did outside of school, what our family dynamics were, and how we spent our free time. She invested in me and wanted to know my story.

This experience made an impression on me. It made me want to know the story of my students. Every single individual that walks into our buildings has a story. If we can learn their story it helps us provide the tools needed for them to succeed.

Which teacher learned your story? How did it make you feel?

Every kid deserves to have someone that invests time in them and learns their story. The investment that you make in that child will pay dividends forever.

Spending time in high school as a teacher and as a vice principal, the time showed me first-hand the power of the relationships and knowing their story. The first week of school this girl came into the office kicking and screaming. It was the loudest interaction I had seen in an office; she was out of control. She almost got into a fight and was stopped right before contact had been made. She sat in my office to blow off steam. After letting her sit there for about 20 minutes, I started the conversation. Tell me about yourself…

The conversation sparked a relationship. She later told me that I was invested in her and wanted to know her story, she had quite the story. This student was a foster student, she had been abused, father had been killed when she was little, mother in jail, and she bounced from foster home to foster home. For the next two years we started each day together in my office. She caught me up on her life, different things that had happened, things that were troubling her, and what her dreams were. Just last month, she sent me a message stating that she graduated and was excited to be starting college in the fall. In the note, she thanked me for believing in her and knowing her story.

When educators can invest the time to learn the stories of their students, they become empowered. We need to know our students and we need to know what drives and motivates them.  Never give up the opportunity for a conversation to build a relationship with a student.

Next time you pass a student sitting by themselves or come across a free moment, I challenge you to invest the time in learning their story. Reflect on that experience and see how that changes the relationship and changes the student’s outlook on school.

Be the one that knows their story, so you can build a relationship that lasts a lifetime.


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