So while it’s not something I make a big deal about I am a Christian. I try to show this in my actions though I don’t always succeed. I’m not one to talk about my faith so much as to try and live it, lead by example, again not something I always succeed in. This past Sunday the sermon focused on Jesus’ sermon on the mount from the book of Matthew. Specifically it was about the Matthew 5:38-42 “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
The minister shortened this in to the phrase “If not us then who?” This struck me especially as she began to tell stories of her ministry in another location reaching out to those that others might not. Teachers do this every day! Good teachers do so much more than impart knowledge, they care, as simple as that. In classrooms all over the world today teachers are reaching out to children who for any number of reasons don’t feel loved. Children who are our biggest challenge are often those that need the most care, some teachers are better at connecting with students than others, some connect with different types of students better than others. For some reason I’ve always been the one to reach out to those in need. My mom joked she thought I’d grow up to be a social worker. She and my dad were the example though. My siblings and I had several friends between us from family situations that were not the best but they knew our door was always open to them, we were the “Do Drop Inn”. One of my best friends to this day was having big issues at home and she walked several miles to our house to stay the night with us because she knew my parents would throw open the door and welcome her in.
This shaped me more than I think I realized. Kids that other teachers can’t seem to get to behave or connect with, I’ve been able to build a relationship with. I have no idea why. There have been students that I haven’t been able to connect with as well, but I try, teachers try every day!
Yesterday I wrote about how the 1,2,3 Magic program worked so well for me, in that post I mentioned the class that I decided I wouldn’t give up on. It was exactly that thought “if not me, then who?” that spurned me into trying again and again with that group and finding some measure of success. I’m still in contact with some of those kids today. I’m fortunate to actually be in contact with several of my former students who are now adults moving into the world of adulthood going to college, getting married, having kids and there are still one or two who reach out to me to ask a questions, even if it’s just to edit their papers for their English classes 😉
I had a principal for several years who really spoke to this idea. We struggled to find that line between motivating the apathetic misbehaving student and sending them to ISS or OSS. I think every teacher and principal can tell you there are days when a class has a totally different feel and you realize it’s because a certain student isn’t there. When a student doesn’t care about their learning, nothing you do seems to motivate them in any way, and they are a disruption to those that do care you fight with yourself as to the best choice for them. You don’t want to give up, you want to fight for them to the end, but then you wonder while you’re fighting for them are you losing the fight for those that care? It’s a tightwire act and you never quite know if you’re going to make it to the other side. At a meeting one day this principal said part of his struggle with this problem is going to a fast food place and having a student that had so much potential wait on you and wondering “what else could I have done?” See he’s was thinking “if not me then who?”
I’ve seen it so many times in so many classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, and playgrounds school staff of all levels reaching out students that others might pass by. They’re living the same life I try to live each day. When I grow frustrated with a student especially with that student who so frequently acts out I have to ask myself “if not me then who?” If I give up on this student how will it affect them? What does it say to them? I want my students to know that I care, that I am here if they ever need me. To me this is just as important as the knowledge I share with them day in and day out.
I hope this made some sense and wasn’t just rambling as it all just kind of spilled out of me into the keyboard. If not well maybe I can make more sense of it later. 🙂