I have been a teacher for 4 years now, and it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I have felt so much joy as I have seen my kiddos grow. I have felt so much sorrow as I have watched them struggle. And I have felt so much frustration as I have struggled to know how to help them. But most of all, I have felt so much love as I have gotten to know them and learn from them.
I think it is through teaching that I have come to understand more fully the scripture found in Isaiah 11:6, which reads, in part: "...and a little child shall lead them." I think that it has been through my interactions with my students the last 4 years that I have come closer to Christ. You see, it is because of my students that I have REALLY come to understand my own weaknesses and shortcomings. It is because of my interactions with them that I have seen that I need more patience, more charity, more knowledge, and certainly more humility.
Even more than those Christlike qualities, though, I have also learned how dependent I really am on the Lord to be successful with these kids. This year I have two of the most challenging kids I have ever had. I'm pretty sure if I'd had these kids my first year of teaching, I would have gone home crying most nights, and probably wanted to quit every day (Oh, wait! I already did want to quit every day!). One morning as I was praying before I left for school, I was talking things over with God (aka complaining about these kids and asking what in the world to do with them), and I had the distinct thought, "Maybe they're not acting out--Maybe they're REACHING out."
I came to realize that most of the time, kids (and people in general) want to do what's right. They aren't trying to make our lives miserable or test every ounce of patience we have. When an infant cries, he or she is really trying to tell us that it's time for a nap or to eat. When a kindergartener throws a chair in class or bites me, maybe he's not really acting out for the fun of it, but maybe he's crying out that he just really needs to know that I will love him--no matter what. That no matter how violent he is or how much he screams, I will never be violent back or scream back. Maybe he just needs to know that I know who he really is--and who he can become. And maybe this could apply to the rebellious teenager, or myriad of other people who do things we just don't understand.
Looking at my kids this way has made such a huge difference for me. It has helped me to be more patient and more consistent with them. It has helped me to figure out ways to help them. And most of all, it has helped me to be more grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who knows His children inside out and is always willing to reach back when we reach out to Him.
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