Last year I watched a Ted Talk by Ruth Pierson. called 'Every Child Needs a Champion'...I found it so inspiring and uplifting that I wanted to write about it. For my entire twenties & my early thirties I was a teacher, who also worked within the Inclusion team. I adored teaching, I was enthusiastic to get out of bed every morning - eager to get to school to make an impact on the children's lives. Now, I'm not for one second suggesting that every single lesson I wrote or delivered was outstanding, of course not, but I did truly believe in my profession and the children in my class.
Being a teacher is a privilege - you can enable children to excel and achieve, you witness lightbulb moments when something just clicks & you share in their discovery/enlightenment. But not every child gets to make these leaps as instantaneously as others. You can see the prospect of learning is exhausting - mentally, physically & emotionally. Imagine how that must feel? That every day is a chore, a battlefield even. You have to fight to stop yourself drowning & yet you are still expected to fit into a rigid school environment that only bends & flexes if you are fortunate enough to have a passionate teacher, Head, Inclusion team & LSA. All of those individuals play an integral part in keeping a child with additional needs buoyant & successful...they are the child's champion.
Having been at the coal face of education, it is logical then that I face the prospect of my youngest's steps towards school with rather a high dose of anxiety. I feel frustrated that so many factors need to align in order for her experience to be fruitful. For the last 2.5 years I have been her champion: I have fought for her, I have knocked down Drs offices, pestered Consultant's secretaries, I've worked on every target set, attended endless appointments on her behalf, brought myself to my knees at times because I am determined to see her succeed. Relinquishing the reins is a challenge, but I hope that the school of our choice will echo my feelings and champion my daughter - in her strengths and her weaknesses.
Rita Pierson said: "I am somebody. I was somebody before I came and I'll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, people to impress and places to go. If you say it long enough, it starts to be part of you." These words are true - every child is a somebody. Every child deserves their education. I hope that all teachers watch this video & take note. To hold a child's education in your hands is a precious gift. You get one chance to make a difference, one opportunity to make an impact and one year to show a child that they are important, worthy & valued. It is irrelevant if the child before you is surpassing all expectations or not...the responsibility is yours & you must respect it. Thank goodness for teachers like Rita Pierson...may other educators take her lead. After all, as it has been said many times before "To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world." Every child needs to be treated as an individual & every teacher has the power, in fact the duty, to empower them to reach their goals. We are all Somebody.
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