Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- lesser children September 21, 2013

Filed under: Poetry,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:15 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

For Max


They come

each year

the lesser children:











You look upon each one

and tell him

he is more

she is more

Be the best


you are the best!

You say it

and you mean it

and bit by bit

what was lesser


and they believe

they are more

than their weaknesses

they are more

than society’s expectation

they are more

than their labels

They drink your words

lips tightly closed at first

but sip by sip they are filled

until they swim in the belief

that they can


their best.

They leave



Because you


they are.


56 Responses to “poem- lesser children”

  1. deweydecimalsbutler Says:

    Thank you for writing something positive about teachers and education.

  2. macjam47 Says:

    Wow! This is one powerful poem. I’ve seen it and so has anyone who is in schools. I’ve witnessed kids who were at the bottom of their class in the traditional classroom and felt they just couldn’t measure up, so why try. I’ve seen those same kids go to a vocational school and shine in academics and in their chosen vocational classes because they were inspired; they were challenged to do something they could be proud of and they were.

  3. Emma Dumitra Says:

    I think this is the true story of so many teenagers who really just needed someone to believe in them and to help them navigate this crazy world. “They leave greater children/Because you believe they are.” I love this. It is absolutely true!

  4. coconutspeak Says:

    I have a partially sighted, mentally childlike sister. Thank you so much for this post.

  5. davidprosser Says:

    A great poem Shawn. Nothing is more likely to make a child have belief in themselves that someone else expressing that same belief. The best teachers are those that inspire the children and make them believe any goal is attainable. xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • I agree. Not every goal is possible, but learning to give your best in all you do, definitely is. So many won’t try, because they either don’t believe they could succeed at the task, or they’re afraid of not being good enough. Doing one’s best is always good enough.

  6. Wonderful in so many ways!

  7. Kaufman's Kavalkade Says:

    The teachers praise
    Overcame the shame
    That society places
    On those they blame
    For their own failures
    In their own game

  8. Kaufman's Kavalkade Says:

    Reblogged this on Andy Kaufman's Kavalkade Krew ~ Featuring The Wandering Poet and commented:
    Positive Reinforcement
    The teachers praise
    Overcame the shame
    That some in society place
    On those they blame
    For their own failures
    In their own game

  9. Sheila Says:

    It is a shame that parents don’t give their children these gifts of life: the encouragement to: be your best, think you are good enough, think you are smart and capable enough. Glad most teachers do!

  10. paulessick Says:

    Reblogged this on My Blog snuppy.

  11. Kaufman's Kavalkade Says:

    Congrats. You’re todays winner of the Daily Good Cheer Award, for writing this wonderful poem.

  12. Truly uplifting. More teachers who have the time and inclination to have such a focus would be amazing. (I’m talking about Australia) although I think the strain on the education system is worldwide. Thank you for this. Susan

    • It doesn’t take much time to be positive, but it does take a determination when some fight against our faith in them.

      • So the home factor is just as important in fostering belief in themselves, or do you think they can do this on their own, irrespective of age?

      • It depends on a variety of factors; personal resilience is a big one. Some raise above their circumstances (whatever they may be) and others are buried by them. Adults in students’ lives can contribute to their success or their failure, but the students choose their paths, whether they realise it or not. Some are their own worst enemies, while all around encourage them, they make choices that yield painful results. Many simply float on the wind (and that is a choice, as well). Some just have a great attitude and do well, regardless of their circumstances.

      • empathygrowth Says:

        Resilience is very important, I agree. Teaching kids to bounce back despite their home life or whatever trial they may face is vital in getting children to be the best they can be.

      • I wonder how much resilience can be taught. So much has to be the child’s own inner fortitude, but if it can be taught, it has to be through this belief that they can rise above, they will rise above, they’re worth rising above, their personal challenges.

      • empathygrowth Says:

        I wonder if instead of “teaching” resilience we should voice our own issues with children to illustrate how we as adults bounce back. Through providing examples and modeling appropriate coping techniques, maybe a child build their own way of dealing with personal challenges that is healthy and productive.

      • In English class we do this by analyzing characters. This is the number one reason we study literature: to see how others react in a situation and consider how we would react. One learns by literary observation. What a terrible handicap it is for people who don’t/won’t read. I also show my editor’s critiques of my work in progress (or previous work) to demonstrate criticism of a work is not criticism of the person.

  13. JunkChuck Says:

    My wife is a teacher and is often exasperated, though rarely by her students–it’s a rough time to be a teacher in the US. She appreciated your words, and so do I. Thanks for the visit to my page, and the follow.

    • I am often surprised by what I read in American teachers’ blogs. I am lucky to be part of a very innovative district, and a particularly innovative high school. Great things are happening here.

  14. GiniClare Says:

    And this is what teaching is about. Thank you for giving it definition in such a beautiful, heart rendering way. Inspirational 🙂

  15. empathygrowth Says:

    Reblogged this on Fitter, Happier, More Productive and commented:
    Your words portray the sense of hopelessness that children with disabilities (emotional, financial, or academic) suffer from when they think they have no chance for success because that is how they were brought up – with an idea that they aren’t worth anything…

  16. caddospumoni Says:

    I love the poem, love that you’re a teacher–and evidently a dedicated one, BRAVO! Thanks for coming over to my new blog–what a treat! Not sure why my gravatar pic doesn’t show on your blog–technology eludes me, even after 2 years blogging….oh well.

  17. cepcarol Says:

    I love this poem. It reflects your love, patience and dedication in teaching. Regards, Carol.

  18. hermitsdoor Says:

    People of all ages flurish when others (aka we) spent time and energy with them. In a similar manner, do we flurish when other reciprocate.

  19. Would you believe that I did not see the child/teacher image at first, Shawn? I just fussed at my husband, the author (age 81 and not in good health) because he refused to go to our writers’ group gathering with me tonight – too tired, lost interest, etc. I saw him as this “lesser” child, having becoming lesser in intelligence, enthusiasm, energy, self-discipline, self-esteem, overall ability, etc. It encouraged me to keep on trying to help and encourage him even as I have become a care giver. I hope we are never too old to learn and improve. Thanks. Gayle Moore-Morrans

  20. brainlace Says:

    I work in the library at an elementary school with a 90% poverty rate and every day I look at my kids and think about all of this. Many more teachers should be like you, Shawn L. Bird.

    • Now that is a good point. Poverty is a huge indicator of academic success. In most cases one could take the school rankings, and they would precisely parallel the economic rankings of their catchment areas.

      • brainlace Says:

        You’re absolutely right. The fact that most of our kids are below the poverty line means that we’re usually the one link that student has to encouragement, higher learning, and even achievement. If we don’t care and put in the extra effort, no one will. And at my school, almost every kid needs that extra care and attention, while at a more affluent school maybe only a handful of kids have serious crises at home.

      • Many issues are the same between economic groups: addiction, divorce, mental illness, abuse, parental negligence, learning disabilities, for example. The difference is the resources available to disguise or deal (and perhaps family expectation for perfection or maintaining a public facade). There are specific issues among the impoverished though, like lack of healthy food to fuel learning and money to support extra-curricular or enrichment activities.

      • brainlace Says:

        You’re right and I misspoke. Resources are the key here, I think, because so many of our teachers seem to hate their jobs and hate their kids. The school is underfunded and the kids are already a step behind because their parents often can’t send them to school fully prepared, and sometimes send them to school an emotional/physical wreck. All of the teachers I’ve talked to admit that they don’t care anymore because they don’t make any money. One of them looked at me like I was stupid the other day because I told him that I care about helping the kids learn to read.

      • Yikes. Perhaps that is another key of our Canadian system, and why we consistently rate in the top 10 in the world. Our teacher training system is very good. Starting wage for a new teacher is over $40,000 and tops out with 10 years and a masters degree at double that. Professional pay ensures that you keep professionally skilled people in the education system. You pay for what you value. What do college coaches earn? Is a game more important than literacy and numeracy?

        Resources is definitely a big thing. In richer areas, the Parent Advisory Councils tend to be active and earn a lot of extra money to put into the school. Where there are a lot of working single parents, there isn’t time for PAC meetings.

      • brainlace Says:

        You’re not kidding about coaches- I attend the University of Georgia and the whole school centers around our football team. There’s a list of the ten or so top-paid people employed by the university, almost all were coaches and only the dean made as much as the coaches. Our education system here in the states is in a general state of decay and our teachers are paid abysmally. I’m convinced that the quickest and best long term way to turn around our economy is to invest in teachers.

      • I would agree with you.

  21. spicejac Says:

    Thank you for this poem – it so encapsulates what I feel about the hope that a great teacher can give to their class – and also the empowerment that comes through belief.

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