Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Every Hour I Need You

Some of my students performing "Annie Jr."

I usually listen to some Jesus music on my way to school in the mornings.  It's my feeble attempt to start my day off with a clear head and a focus on my ultimate purpose as a teacher and just as a human being.  This song came on and the chorus really struck a chord with me.  It said, "I need you, oh, I need you.  Every hour, I need you."  At the middle school where I'm student teaching they call what I called "Periods" back in the day "Hours."  You know, like first class of the day is first hour, second class is second hour, so on and so forth.  I was thinking about how I need Jesus in every single one of these hours.

I desperately want to make a difference as a teacher.  At my classroom management class--yep I still have big-kid school as a student even though I have middle school as a teacher every day--a guest speaker talked about the effect trauma has on human lives.  Trauma could be anything from parents getting divorced to emotional/physical abuse.  Students who have been through such adverse child experiences (ACE) are more likely to have academic failure, severe attendance problems, severe school behavior concerns, and health issues.  But there is hope.  If these children can find resilience, then they can grow to be strong, healthy individuals.  Perhaps even better for having gone through such sorrow and come out on the other end successful.  "The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places."

According to her research,  a stable adult creating a safe environment for ACE students and building powerful relationships with them can make all the difference.  Many children who have been through trauma will never make it to a counselor.  If they don't get on a new trajectory they will end up with social, emotional, and health issues.  Every child has one thing in common:  they will go through school.  As a teacher, I am compelled to be one such adult.

But it is so difficult.  I love my kids.  I am surprised at how fast I have become deeply attached to them.  Still, every day is so full, so busy.  Every day there are kids who forget to bring materials to class, who throw off the activity I have planned, who challenge my authority, who are mean to other kids, who don't care about school, who make inappropriate jokes, who try to talk over me.  Phew.  The list goes on and on.  It can be easy to let these things frustrate me.  It can be easy to let these behaviors that I see from my kids, define my kids.  "He's just a bad kid.  She's lazy.  He couldn't care less about anything but himself."  These are the words I here from other teachers--jaded teachers who have had to be patient for much longer than me.  And these are the words that occasionally slip across my mind, and I pray they never pass my lips.

Thus, I believe that the only way for me to truly love my students is through Jesus.  Now, let me say this, I have seen plenty of teachers that care an awful lot for their students and do a great job teaching them and building relationship with them.  I'll also say that I'm sure not all of these are Christ-followers.  I just know that I, personally, cannot do this on my own.  I need Jesus to give me strength.  To help me to see the internal value that each of my students possess.  To help me not to take it personally that Jimmy forgot a pencil again.  I'll even venture that while it's possible to love apart from Christ, and I've met people who do this so well, I think that to love the way that Jesus loves is a pretty colossal task.  To love as unconditionally, and relentlessly as he loves, that is what I find impossible apart from his Spirit working in me.  

The conclusion I've come to is simple.  The stakes are high.  The small, pubescent humans I'm around every day are in great need.  I want to be a light and encouragement to them.  Which for this weak, impatient, saved-by-grace-girl, is impossible without Jesus living through me.  So, Lord, I need you, oh, I need you.  Every hour I need you.

1 comment:

Jocelyn said...

Praying for you (and me!) today, friend -- that love would prevail in us over "justifiable" anger, impatience, and despair. Thanks for not settling for the status quo. Now move to Yakima so my kids can be in your classroom. ;)


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