I was a new teacher at a meeting about one of our more challenging students. He was new to the school and already having major disciplinary problems. We were determined to come up with a behavior plan that everyone could agree with, but it wasn't easy. One teacher in particular was determined to convince us that nothing would work. His "solution" was to give the kid a permanent seat in the in-school suspension room. When we disagreed, this guy stormed out of the room, muttering under his breath.
The teacher sitting next to me sighed and said, "He might have a point. Even if we come up with something, what are the chances that this kid's parents will be supportive?"
Right about now I could get all high and mighty and say that I was this kid's champion. I was young and idealistic, and I rallied the troops and reminded all the jaded veterans that we could do it. We could make a real difference in this boy's life.
But I didn't. In fact, I secretly agreed with the naysayers. I was just too new to admit it outloud.
Another teacher took control, came up with most of the plan, and called the parents, putting them on speakerphone during the meeting.
It turned out they were lovely people, and it was obvious that they were struggling to deal with some difficult situations at home. They were fully on board with the plan, and the boy's mother cried, thanking us for our help.
I felt like a loser. I had been certain that this kid had parents who couldn't care less that their son was a terror in school. When I admitted my surprise to the teacher who was the boy's real champion that day, she told me something that I never ever let myself forget, even when dealing with the most difficult students.
"Never forget that every child is someone's whole world."