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I know that yesterday I blogged about my fourth week of teaching, but I just had to share a sweet teaching story with you.

First, the background.

The first few days of school, I had a student in one of my classes that was quite the cut-up.  Actually, that class had three cut-ups, and their antics were quite a problem.

Finally, around the third or fourth day, I asked one of the guys, “D,” to stay after class.

He was about to face a reckoning.

Well, I think that the Lord got a hold of my vocal cords and took over that conversation.  Rather than coming down hard on this student, I took a gentle approach.

I began by telling the student what a great personality he had.  I explained that kids loved him because of his fun personality.  However, that personality was getting him into trouble in my class.

He nodded in understanding.

I then went on to explain that he could make a good choice by channeling that energy and personality into something positive.  I told him that he was a natural leader, and that the other students would imitate his behavior…good or bad.

Then, I told him about Barack Obama, who got elected based on his charismatic personality and not his experience.  I explained to D that he had the same kind of potential within himself.

The last thing I told D was that I believed in him.  I told him not to listen to other people who said otherwise.  I repeated, several times, the mantra that I believed in him.

Well, he signed my behavior log with a statement about what we had discussed, and I gave him a pass to his next class.

I had no idea if I would see a difference.  I’d had this type of discussion with several of my students last year, and they had not hit their marks.

I didn’t have to wait long to see results.

After school, I spoke with Ms. “J,” who teaches math across the hall from me.  D is in her class.  She immediately asked, “What did you say to D?  He was a completely different child today.  He asked to sit in the back of the room and did all of his work quietly.  He told me that he had spoken to you.”

Oh my.

He had listened.

Better yet, he had taken my words to heart.

Folks, three weeks later, I have not had a single issue with this student.  He comes in, follows procedures, contributes politely to classroom discussions, and then leaves.

He’s making good choices…choices I knew he could make if he just believed in himself.

But this story gets better.

A little over a week ago, I had to administer an untimed, computer-based diagnostic test.  During the test, D asked if he could go look for his brother, who had first lunch, so he could get money for his own lunch, which would be immediately after my class.

I gave him the okay.  As he began to walk out my door, I quietly whispered, “I’m letting you go because I trust that you won’t be wandering around aimlessly.  Trust.  It’s something that you and I have built since the beginning of school.”

Well, this guy came back a little while later and resumed his test.

After he finished, I approached him and quietly asked how things were going.  He told me that he had been working hard on his behavior.

He paused then and lowered his eyes, telling me that he had been slipping in Ms. J’s class.

Then he said something that floored me.

He said that he owed her an apology.

My mouth dropped to the floor.

I explained that she would forgive him because we’re all humans and prone to make mistakes.

But this story gets even better.

Fast forward to early last week.  We were discussing characters, and for the bellwork that day, I had asked students to list three strengths and three weaknesses that they possess.

Then, we did a Think-Pair-Share exercise (my first…and before my mentor modeled it for me later in the week).  After students shared their answers with their partners, I went around the room, asking students to share at least one thing they had shared with their own partners.

When I got to D, he explained that one of his weaknesses was trusting people.

Can I just tell you that I paused in that moment.  I had tears in my eyes.

This young man who had been working so hard in my class has trust issues, and yet he made himself very vulnerable in that moment by allowing us to have that glimpse into his soul.

It was obvious that he trusts me.  I don’t know that he would have shared such personal information if he didn’t.

Folks, teaching is not about the big paycheck (yeah right).  It’s not about having summers off (ha, ha, ha).

It’s about unforgettable moments like the ones I’ve shared above.

Teaching is about impacting young lives…to the point where kids begin making better decisions…thus affecting the rest of their lives in very positive ways.

I’m learning that my students need daily reminders that they are special.  It doesn’t take much.  Quietly spoken, sincere affirmations such as “Good job” or “Thank You” can do more for children than long, eloquent speeches.

I think, in a way, this experience with D is helping me with my own trust issues.  I didn’t think I could teach reading.  I didn’t think I was ready.

God knew otherwise, and all He asked me to do was to trust Him.

I think that my experience with D is God’s affirmation that I’m following His plan and doing a good job.  In a way, I feel God’s pat on my shoulder telling me “Thank you” for obeying and trusting.

I guess lessons in trust aren’t just for teenagers, eh?

3 Responses

  1. Oh my… what a beautiful post…

    What an amazing privilege you have in getting to touch these young kids lives… bring out the BEST in them! 🙂 I know YOU get so blessed in return too in seeing small things.. & BIG… happen with these kids!

  2. What a wonderful story!

  3. Okay, you’ve made me cry. I needed this post, because my very own son has the type of personality you describe–a cut-up, a leader for good or ill, a kid who , just this week, admitted to me how hard it is to keep his mouth shut and hands still in class. I explained I know, he is just like me! We have the same strengths and weaknesses, and often after screwing up, we feel guilty to the point of feeling we’re horrilbe people. But I got to explain that we are not, that we lack self-control at times ,and our careflessness (words or actions) sometimes hurt people. But for those in Christ (like he is) there is no condemnation. Each morning His merices are new. So glad you shared this story! I do need to remind him that he is a leader and other kids are looking to him for cues in how to behave.

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