I am the oldest child of two parents who never graduated from college. I grew up living below the poverty-line and on the wrong side of the tracks. My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. The home in which I grew up was condemned by the city when I was in 9th grade. Despite all of these "obstacles," I only ever had one teacher (that I know of) who did not believe in me. Across three schools (a private elementary school, a public junior high and high school), every other teacher that I had believed that I was just as able as the other more well-off students and that I would go on to accomplish just as much greatness as they would. My family also had every expectation that I would find a way to go to college despite our financial situation.
Most of my teachers never told me that I wasn't able to do something. While I was certainly told NO plenty of times (I am a child of the 80s, after all), it was due to adults raising me, not because of a lack of belief in me. It might be hard, I might fail multiple times, I might give up before succeeding. But that would be a choice, not a lack of ability.
Our students can achieve greatness. It is up to us to give them the tools to do that. The next time you hear yourself or someone else saying that students can't do something, be sure to finish the sentence with yet. They can't do it YET. But they will be able...once we show them how.
How has someone's belief or lack thereof influenced your life or your path? How have your beliefs influenced others? Share in the comments below.