Each school year I introduce myself with a handshake for each one of my new-to-middle-school- and-absolutely-terrified-about-it sixth grade English students. As I shake their hand, I ask them to give me their name and tell me something about themselves. All too often, I get things after their name like, “I have ADHD”, “I get in trouble a lot”, “I’m absent a lot”, “I’m not good at English”, “I don’t like school”, “I don’t try very much”, or any of the other negative labels that students hear throughout their school careers. How sad is that?


My usual response is something like, “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t know we were introducing ourselves that way today. Let me start over. Hello, my name is Ms. Withers and I am a type A personality with ADD.” This usually gets me a smile, maybe even a small giggle. Then I make them try the introduction again only saying something positive this time. My hope is that maybe they will see the beginning of a new year at a new school for what it is - a fresh start.  Parents, please have your student leave their negative labels at home. Teachers, get to know the student, not the file.


Have a great year everybody!