If anyone understands stereotypes, it is a frog. We talked about stereotypes this week to understand the characters in The Outsiders. I learned more about my frogs in ninety minutes than I had in ninety days of school.
I spent last year listening to a boy's teachers complain about everything he did and everything he did not do. During our class discussion this week, he raised his hand and said, "Why does everybody think I am just a dumb Mexican?" His voice shook with emotion as he looked at me for an answer.
Another boy told us people stereotype his mom because she dropped out of school to have him when she was thirteen. Another shared his story of being poor and being judged because of the clothes he wears. A girl chased out of school by racism hoping to start over in our school. Kids jumping other kids because of the way they looked. Being seen as too feminine in a masculine world.
I learned a powerful lesson this week. Stereotypes leave scars that don't heal. It is bad enough that we do that to one another as kids. It is deplorable when we do that to our children. I vow to stop judging my students and listen to their stories of who they are. Listening leads to understanding and understanding leads to love. It is only through love that frogs become the royalty they were meant to be.