I recently watched the TED talk by Rita Pearson entitled Every Kid Needs a Champion and it got me thinking. As a teacher I’ve been an encourager, advocate and champion for many kids, often with amazing outcomes. But it takes a lot to champion the kid that everyone else has given up on.
The trouble with that kid is that their self belief has begun to reflect the attitudes they see around them; resentment, rejection, disappointment and an expectation of failure. The toughest time I ever had in my teaching career was when I refused to give in to this kind of negativity. I clung to the belief that change was possible even when everyone else had lost hope.
And I won’t pretend it was easy.
It stands out in my memory as one of my toughest challenges. I poured myself into affecting change for this boy – it took every aspect of my social, emotional and professional knowledge to influence his behaviour, attitude and engagement.
It was a relentless struggle.
Tears of frustration; at my own limitations, at his provocations and at the overwhelming task ahead of me. I was in a state of exhaustion before I saw a glimmer of change. But that glimmer was enough. My energy would surge and my hope would revive.
At the end of that year I received a Christmas card which said:
I cannot express how grateful I am that you came into my son’s life. You have brought out the boy that I knew was under his layers of problems. From the bottom of my heart thank you!
This is what a champion does.
They walk beside you when all others have gone.
And they change lives.
Finding the Champion in You
When you find the champion within yourself you begin a journey.
A journey that is often painful, challenging but always transformative. Because when you champion someone else, even when they push you away again and again, you learn the true grit of what it means to believe in something greater than yourself.
You believe in them.
And believing in someone else is one of the greatest gifts you have to give.
Have you found you’re inner champion?
Or do you remember a teacher or coach who was your champion? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!