This March Madness will go down as a record-breaking, exhilarating ride. The year of the underdogs is a fitting name for what has happened during this post-season. Everyone loves the underdog…they cheer them on to victory and relish it when they win. Even if it’s against your own team, we seem to still accept a begrudging respect for them as an opponent. The key here is to never discount anyone.
In the classroom, we have plenty of underdogs. The students coming to school from broken homes. The students we welcome on Monday morning who have not had a filling meal since Friday lunch. The students who have been told all their lives that they are worthless and will never amount to much. The students experiencing deep emotional pain and social exclusion. Do we cheer them on?
Often, these are the students who we struggle to connect with, further disparage in the privacy of the faculty lounge as lazy and not going to make much with thier lives. Sometimes, we just write them off…how guilt washes over me when I think to those times where I was not the teacher and mentor the student was inviting me to be for them in that passage of life.
What will the underdogs on our watch say of our efforts later in their lives? I pray they will say, “Mr. Meals never lowered his high, unbending expectations of me, he was filled with grace towards my choices, and he never, ever gave up on his belief in me.” What will your underdogs say of you?