Loyalty. This word has such strong meaning for all of us. Loyalty is about championing, defending, protecting who or what is important to us. Most of the time it is about loyalty to the people in our lives. Maybe it’s a grandma, or a cousin, a teacher, sibling, friend or any other person who means something to us. These people give us our sense of who we are, our sense of what we are capable of doing, our courage to show up in the world.
For our students, loyalty seems to have extra significance. Their world is so defined by the people in it, the people they care about and who they believe care about them. Our students show us what it means to be fiercely loyal.
When we choose to challenge a person, make assumptions about them, or judge them because of who they are loyal to, then we best expect a reaction. We’ve gone after the center of their world: their source of certainty, importance and belonging in this world. Loyalty to them will create a strong reaction to this. Most of the time loyalty is seen as a virtue, as a strong character trait. When we see loyalty show up in a student, that strong reaction is often misunderstood as something different … as defiance, disrespect or worse. What may seem confrontational, disruptive or loud, is really about showing up for people they believe in. We just express it differently. Loyalty is a great trait to have and should be seen and understood and valued for what it is. It is a student saying, “Hey, that’s my people. Be careful. I care enough about them to show you in a strong way.”
I’d do the same for my people. Loyalty. It means something to each of us and gives us a sense of empowerment and belonging.