Understanding that Reputations can be changed.

This year we had a group of students enter the 8th grade with the perception that they were the “monster” group. For them, their reputation arrived years before they did. I was anxious to meet this uniquely challenging group. Upon meeting them, I realized that they are like any other groups of kids I have worked with, but the difference was that this particular group of kids were content with their infamous reputation. However, I believed they could be more. We spent several days talking about stereotypes; identifying them in our school, and analyzing the impact they can have on the individual. When I realized that students were engaged, I pushed it further. We began talking about the word ‘reputation’ and discussed the positive and negative effects a reputation can have on the individual, a group, and a society as a whole. I challenged students to identify their reputation as a class, and we began talking about ways to change it. The ability to change one’s reputation was certainly a new concept for students, and they ate it up. We started by identifying their positive attributes as a group, and how they wanted to be remembered when they leave the district as seniors. That organically turned into creating Wordles. Students worked for a couple of days, and then we hung them in the hallway around their lockers as a constant reminder that change can happen. All it takes is the will to be different.

 

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