What I saw today in my rear view mirror ... how are you pre-judging your students?!

Today I was at a stoplight and I happened to look in my rear view mirror.  Behind me was a car that many people might refer to as a "beater" and in the driver's seat was a man who looked to be a mechanic.  He was dressed in a work shirt with a nametag on the pocket, he looked to be a little dirty and his hair was scruffy.  I am embarrassed to admit that I pre-judged him based on the car he drove and his physical appearance.

In the passenger seat was a teenage girl I assume was this man's daughter.  As I watched them, I realized I had grossly misjudged the man in the driver's seat.  During their conversation, he casually put his arm on the back of the passenger seat and said something to the girl and they both laughed.  The scene now revealed what appeared to be a loving father having a wonderful, engaging discussion with his teen daughter.  They looked relaxed and at ease with each other talking and laughing.  I was engrossed in watching them and nearly sat through a green light!

As I drove off, I felt heartbroken that I had made an assumption based on how this person looked on the outside.  I started to wonder how many times we do this as educators.  How many times have we judged a kid the second they walked through the door because of their clothes or their hair or who their parents are or the car they drive or the house they live in?  I challenge you to look beyond the surface and give everyone a fair chance.  You may be surprised what you see in your rear view mirror one day.