“You may be the only person to pay your student(s) a compliment all day, all week, all month!”
My mentor teacher passionately spoke these words to me in my first few months of teaching high school. She reminded me of this truth when I was struggling with some of my worst students all crammed into the same class period. I wanted to pluck out my eyes and pull out my hair because of how challenging some of them were. Yet, my mentor teacher believed with her whole heart that our words hold much power, especially for those tough cases in the classroom.
I have never forgotten her words.
As a new teacher, my standards were high, but my experience level was low. I wanted to be someone my students remembered as a positive influence and a fabulous teacher. The problem was that I knew so little about the young men and women in my classes. How could I know everything about more than 100 students filtering through my classroom each week?
Despite my frustration with some of my most trying students, I pondered soberingly:
- What was life like for them at home?
- Did they have friends, I mean, real friends?
- What were their struggles, insecurities, and doubts?
- Is anyone they know looking for ways to encourage them today?
I could search their grade point average on the school database and gauge their academic status, but that was rarely the most important information to help them flourish.
While this episode in my life was specific to my teaching position, it reaches far beyond the classroom. Are we, as Christians, adding or subtracting to the lives of people we encounter each day? Are we, as followers of Jesus, asking the same questions about the difficult people we know:
What is life like at home for them? Do they have friends, I mean, real friends? What are their struggles? Is anyone they know looking for ways to encourage them today?
We have a long way to go in loving people as Christ loved us. God help us to be kind.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12