Captain Underdog: 2 Essential Tips for Celebrating the Underdog Student!

Every teacher has the student that is what we call a diamond-in-the-rough. They have beautiful potential but may not get as much attention elsewhere as other students. Factors can include behavior (too nice, too loud, too quiet ,too goofy, personal issues, or even mean), a different look, a different personality, struggling academic progress and/or achievements and the list goes on. As the years have passed, I have had the honor of working with numerous underdogs in education. Every child has immense value.

Underdogs grow up to be amazing people if given the proper support early on in life. From movies to real-life, we all love an astonishing underdog story that gives us a sense of inherent hope and greatness with a foundation of sincere humility.

Here are 2 Essential Tips so celebrate the Captain Underdog in your classroom–whether it is one or 25!

1. PRAISE-I mean sincere praise. Kids can tell fake from real and whether your praise is sincere. Praise can be more than “I’m proud of you! “Praise can use a sticky note to stick on the desk of the students who need encouragement, a sweet note in their journal, a positive phone call home, or giving them a special task or class role. Make sure your praise is specific so they can grow. Praise is also motivating. If you focus on what they can do right, then what they need work on will begin to pale in comparison to not only their fortified strengths but it also propels them to work on their weaknesses.

Praise is always a step in the right direction.

2. Allowing them a second chance.

Around 2012, I had a student named Joshua (not real name). Joshua came to us from another school which was a sought after fine arts academy in district I was in at that time. He was highly talented in theater. Because he struggled in English and other classes, they put him out. However, he came to US, and was a treasure. He began encouraging other students. He went from discouraged and withdrawn to outgoing. He was the lead in the school plays and performed in several other school performances. Joshua bloomed–because he was given an opportunity to be who he was and boy was his countenance amazing! He was simply phenomenal. He went from “overlooked to overbooked” as they say. With sincere support, Joshua was simply given another chance and to this child, it meant the world.

I do not have to recount history to show you the impact “underdogs” have had on our society and lives. These students are the student who may not bust 100s on every assignment, but they can be the strong quiet student, unorganized loud students, the one with issues, the shy student who always smiles and does their work but tends to be overlooked for leadership roles.

Praise and give your student underdog a second chance, you may just vote for them years from now in your local election, or see them on television, or they may be your future neighbor or city superhero. Regardless, every child has value.


Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light

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