Today, I was reminded of why it is that I became a teacher, and what my goal is when my students leave my room every day.
Here's the back story:
On Friday, this young lady really frustrated me. I actually wrote my first office referral of the year because of what she did. She's one of those kids that teachers get annoyed with very easily. She's a kid that makes small bad choices here and there and you really worry that they're going to come back to hurt her in the end. Despite all of this, I give her the benefit of the doubt, more often than I probably should. Some might think this is because I'm naive about her intentions when she asks for something, but really it's because I feel like she needs someone to be on her side. There are always kids that stick out each year as someone that you would "go to bat for" because you want to see them be successful. This is my girl.
On Friday, however, she broke my trust. She asked to go to her locker, and instead decided to skip part of my class so that she could roam the halls for 15 minutes. Needless to say, I was very annoyed by this. When I got her back to my classroom (after having to track her down on the other side of the school), I had a talk with her in the hallway, and I let her know how disappointed and upset I was. This particular incident bothered me the most because I do always give her the benefit of the doubt, and I felt like she made a fool out of me. After lunch, she came up to me and said "I'm sorry that I made you mad. I realize what I did was wrong. I don't want you to think that I'm one of those kids that doesn't care". I accepted her apology and told her it was ok, but that she had broken my trust and that it would take a while to build that back up.
So, back to today. The student came in for some after school tutoring. After we discussed her grades, she sits down in front of my desk and says, "Mrs. Thompson, I never knew that you felt that way about me". (I should also tell you that English is her second language, so sometimes it takes a few tries to really say what she's trying to say). I asked her what she means, and she began to cry. She goes on to tell me that she didn't know that I trusted her, and that no one in her life has ever trusted her, not even her mom. She said that she didn't like that she had disappointed me. My heart simply melted. Our conversation continued and I encouraged her to learn from her mistakes and to remember that life is full of choices, and now is such a pivotal time in her life to decide what paths she's going to go down.
All I kept thinking was here's this young lady that God has placed in my classroom for a purpose! This sweet 12 year old girl is just looking for someone, anyone, to give her a chance. What an amazing reminder of why I have a passion for teaching and a passion for children. They need me. I need them. God needs me to be their beacon of hope. As a friend put it tonight at dinner, "You may be the only Jesus that she ever comes in to contact with." How powerful, and scary! I'm not so sure that I am always ready for that big of a responsibility, but I'm so glad that God is a good God, and He gracefully sends me reminders of what my purpose is. If I can teach a kid math, I'm doing good in the eyes of my administrators and the school district. But if I can teach a kid to make good, moral choices and to learn from their mistakes, I am doing what God has designed me to do. I'm leading them to Him. It's a slow process and I rarely get to see the end result, but how rewarding to see glimpses into how my influence can make a difference.
Thank you God for today.