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The Awesome Power to Re-Label

I spoke to a student recently who was sent to me because he had been disruptive in class. Something he said stuck with me.

As the Assistant Principal, I often deal with students who are getting into trouble.

After we spoke about his bad decisions, I said, “You’re a good kid. You just…”

Before I could finish my sentence he said, “No I’m not.”label-good

I was a little surprised. I had never had a student disagree with me when I told him, he was a good kid.

I spent the next few minutes trying to convince him that he wasn’t a bad kid. I don’t have bad kids at my school. I have good kids, and sometimes good kids make poor decisions, but that doesn’t change them from being good kids.

I realized that this student had labeled himself with a big sticker that said, “BAD KID.”

My job was to try and re-label him.

It wasn’t easy. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I’ll keep trying.

Today, I sent the following email to my staff. I wanted to share it here.


Hello amazing CFIS staff,

I was speaking with a couple staff members, and we were talking about some of the “labels” that our kids have on them.

As you know, at this age, it’s all about identity. Many kids in intermediate school are still trying to figure out who they are. It’s a transformational time in their lives. Everything is changing, and for many kids, it can be overwhelming.

That is why I love this age, because there is such a great opportunity to have an impact on that identity discovery.

Some of our kids, however, have already “labeled” themselves. They see themselves as “bad” or “dumb” or “lazy.” Whether it’s a label that has been placed on them by their parents or past teachers or peers, the students has accepted an identity that must have a negative effect on their ability to learn.

As I shared with the staff members, we have an awesome opportunity to “re-label” these kids, and this “re-labeling” power can be life-changing.

Most of you do this already, but I would encourage you to continue to remind our kids how smart they are, how creative and good they are. Even when they make mistakes, they are still good kids. There are no “bad” kids at CFIS – just good kids who sometimes make mistakes.

Some of these negative labels may be tough to remove, since they’ve been affixed by parents or other influential adults for years, but if more of us make the effort to “re-label,” I’m convinced that we will see more motivated, more happy, more successful students.

Let’s take advantage of our power to re-label.

Thank you for all you do for our kids and each other.



Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!

Thank you,



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