This summer fellow educator, Josh Ehn and I were traveling to co-present at a conference. On the ride to the event we listened to music and tweaked last minute preparations for our presentation. The conversation was soon halted when Omi's "Cheerleader" came on. We both looked at each other for a moment....and soon began belting the words as we traveled down the road.
Months later I reflect on that car ride and ponder what could make two grown, professional men sing a pop song. I have come to the realization that no matter the age, we could all benefit from a cheerleader. The many people that have cheered me along the way will forever have a special place in my heart. Especially those who were there at the beginning.
My thoughts turn to those that I can cheer on and help to win the race. In the many hats that I wear, it can be easy to forget to take time and truly champion on a young person with intentionality and purpose. All of us have someone or if you are blessed as I am, hundreds of someones, that we have a chance to cheerlead each and everyday.
I hope that this post serves as a prompt to pick up your pom poms and wave them proudly in the corner of a young person's life!
There are indeed many, many great reasons to cheer on a young person, below I have listed three:
1. Every student should be inspired to greatness.
Recently our district's girls basketball team had the privilege and honor of playing at the State Tournament. As an administrator I had a front row seat to all of the action. Our girls played that game with all of their heart and fell just short of advancing to the next round.
Regardless of the score, our cheerleaders continued to pump up the crowd, leading the fans in cheers and shouting words of encouragement. In the fleeting moments of the game when everyone knew it would be out of reach, I studied the cheerleaders. They were also well aware of the score and what the final outcome would be. Putting their own fears and concerns aside, they still continued to cheer, even after the game was over.
This challenged me on several levels. Do I encourage and inspire greatness to young people whom I know are failing to meet some of the standards that have been set? Am I willing to put my own fears and concerns aside to best encourage that child?
2. Every student should feel like a part of a TEAM.
Cheerleaders make you feel like an essential part of the team. They have an ability to include everyone, giving you the sense that the team would not be performing as well without you present.
As cheerleaders to the young people in our lives, are we doing everything we can to make them feel a part of the team? How have we gone the extra mile to encourage them to fully participate and share their contributions to the world at large?
3. Every student should know they have worth and value.
0-20 or 20-0, a cheerleader puts on their smile and doesn't pass judgment on the team's performance. In my short tenure as an educator, I am beginning to truly understand the power of words. Just as a positive word builds, a negative word destroys. When we cross paths with a young person we don't know if they have had a positive or a negative experience that day with the others in their life.
As a cheerleader it doesn't matter. I can't change the circumstances in the arena of competition. It is my job, role and responsibility to give that child a positive experience. What I can change is how that child leaves their interaction with me. I can ensure that the student leaves with a feeling that someone is supporting them, even if it feels like everyone and everything is against them.
I can pick up my pom poms, grab my cheer horn and make as much noise as I can to push that child to be the very best that they can be and encourage them to finish strong!