There are 60 new students at the school I work at, bringing the total number of students to just shy of 200.
I know the names of all of our returning students.
All of them.
Some may take me a minute to recall, others I know so well I could tell you their hobbies, vacation plans, dream jobs and list the projects they completed last year.
For me to be successful at my job, I have to build relationships with my students, gain their trust and help them believe that I will do everything I can to help them succeed.
In the first few weeks of school I make it my mission to know as many students as possible. Not just know their name but KNOW them. I link their face and their name with an important fact that I can recall later on and show them that they are valuable and they matter to me.
I have just a few days, maybe a week, to add the names and faces of 60 new students to my memory bank.
I stand at the bottom of the stairs or at the main entrance and greet each student that walks in by name. As I walk through the halls, I'm constantly scanning and naming the kids. I pursue the ones that seem to blend in and drive their name into my mind so that it sticks.
I cannot count the number of times that I have approached a student, called them by name, inquired about some fact or story that they told me in the past and watched their entire countenance brighten as they are shocked that someone has noticed them and taken the time to remember them.
Today, I started a conversation with a new student who I will be working with quite a bit this year. We talked about what she was interested in, how she preferred to receive help, and she shared some of her hopes for the school year and her future. She looks tough. Her body language, he clothing and her piercings and tattoos all scream "leave me alone". The more we chatted, the more she opened up to me and she said something that broke my heart a little. As she was explaining to me that she wanted to become a youtube star she said "I know it is every teenager's dream to become a famous youtuber, but thats what I really want to do, I want to be somebody".
I wanted to tell her YOU ARE SOMEBODY right now. You don't need followers or subscribers to prove that. You don't need to become somebody else in order to be the right somebody. You don't need to hide who you are to be somebody someone else wants you to be.
But I didn't.
I simply said. OK. I asked about her knowledge of making videos and such and moved on.
Hours later, I couldn't shake what she said...."I want to be somebody".
Maybe I'll help her become somebody better at math, or somebody who did a really cool project, or maybe if I'm lucky, I'll help her see that she is already somebody.