My heart goes out to those people that have this strong desire to be an educator just to teach the content. Unfortunately, teaching is more than just imparting content knowledge into students and going on about your day. You can say, “well that is why schools have counselors and social workers and so forth to help deal with student challenges, there is no place for that in my classroom.” Let me let you in on a little secret; no one knows your students outside of their parents and close relatives better than you. In fact, you may see a side of a child that their own parent may not be aware that exists.
Educators have more responsibility than those outlined in a job description. You see there is so much power in the position that we hold. That power can be a tool or a weapon. It is up to you to decide the way in which you use it. May I submit to you that your classroom is your platform to create a catalyst of change? We cannot choose the students that enter our classroom each year, and our students cannot choose who teaches them. Regardless, we have been assigned to each other.
We each enter the school building with factors that impact the way we teach and for students the way that they learn and even interact with others, which may sometimes be beyond our control. The difference is as professionals and hopefully compassionate adults, we have a greater advantage than the youth we serve. You see, we can control if we bring our emotions in our classroom from the things that are happening in our personal lives, they cannot. This does not mean that you won’t be met with frustrations or challenges; however, your response is dependent on your maturity and knowing that there are people, little people, that you are leading and that are depending on you to be the example and the difference in their lives. You may not want that responsibility, but this is apart of the calling, not the profession. Children are not as mature as you, they have not even encountered and dealt with experiences such as you; so, we cannot expect them to know how to deal with their emotions or feelings in a healthy or positive way.
I’m not asking you to allow student’s outside circumstances to be an excuse to unacceptable behavior or classroom disruptions; I am asking you to get to the root of why they are having unacceptable behavior and why they are disrupting the class. Does this mean you have to be a counselor or a principal? No, it means that you are a compassionate individual seeking to understand an individual, so that you may share your story if similar, provide wisdom, and help them to develop resilience and grit.
Your classroom is your ministry; your words can cause hope or despair. You have the power to plant seeds of positivity, wisdom, love, peace, and hope into a child that may not be experiencing any of those things. You also have the power to plant word curses that can lead to the destruction of their developing identity.
I challenge you to use your authority for good and the betterment of each individual you have been assigned to, even on the days that they make it absolutely impossible to do so. You cannot love everyone the same; you cannot treat or handle everyone the same. Think about the relationships that you have in your own life, do you have the same conversations or share the same dynamics with them all? I doubt that you do. I encourage you to get to know the individual, develop a relationship with them all. Remember, plants do not grow the same day you plant the seed. You may not see the evidence of your pouring, but sooner than later you will see the fruit of your harvest.