Let me tell you the story of Mean Cat.
There was a stray cat that used to live outside my house. Orange tabby, chubby, green eyes, paint that picture in your head for a second. Whenever my teacher roommates and I would get home from school, we'd see this cat either on our front porch or in our back yard. We started calling her Mean Cat. Why? Not sure. She never did anything mean. She may have hissed at my dog or one of us at some point, but none of us remember any aggression or meanness from this cat. A few times she even came inside the house if we accidentally left the door open. A few months later all of us would become visibly shaken and scared whenever we'd find mean cat in the front or the back. our guests started to call mean cat by the name we gave her and were afraid of her too.
This cat NEVER did anything to deserve her reputation. We gave it to her based on something we probably embellished but nobody remembers ever happening. We discovered at some point she had kittens. We started feeding her and giving her water. Not only did she stop being scary after that, but she went on her way and hasn't been seen since.
This is what we do to our kids. We label them and they fall into a category for the rest of forever. Whether it's labeling them as the bad kid and shunning them until they drop out or labeling them TAG as an elementary student and refusing to let them take less challenging courses or give them the support they need when they're struggling because "they're TAG, they should be able to figure it out," these labels become very harmful to some of our students.
It's better to seek to understand each child as they come rather than put them all in a category and form an opinion. After all, I know how most of you feel about the "those who can't do, teach" assumption.
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