My favorite place to visit during a decade of teaching was the teachers lounge. Although this seems like a strange answer, it’s one of the few places faculty could go without being bombarded by questions, distracted by a student or interrupted by an upset parent. This was a setting where staff let their guard down, sharing various burdens on their hearts. I truly enjoyed the meaningful conversations I engaged in during my first couple of years teaching. After a while, I began to ask others teachers about certain students, seeing if they had similar concerns or issues in their class. During one such exchange, my eyes were opened to a situation that I never knew about.
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.
One of my students was a goof ball, sarcastic and usually a distraction to my classroom. However, I was enlightened to the reason behind her behavior one afternoon. Evidently, her parents marriage was falling apart, often left alone some nights with her older sister playing the role as parent. One of my peers eventually said to me, “It’s a miracle that these children get to school on time daily.” If I only knew this upfront, I probably would have been more understanding. Yet, sometimes inappropriate behavior is merely a reaction to what’s going on at home. This pain held deep inside of hearts, minds and souls often comes out in the form of emotional outbursts. This cry for help often get’s overlooked by most teachers.
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security, Jeremiah 33:6.
The most challenging class I dealt with were junior high students in West Virginia. These students were intelligent, but due to issues at home hampered their overall achievement in school. Selected by a new boarding school entitled the High Scope Institute for Ideas, I was chosen to counsel and teach these candidates. Using an active learning environment, students were engaged with seminars and workshops. In the middle of the day, tutoring sessions were held for those falling behind followed by team building exercises to encourage leaders to come forward. This semester holds a special place in my heart as I lived with these students like a camp counselor. Yet, one student began to act up near the end of the school year. After threatening to kill another student, I had a heated exchange with him, throwing his bunk bed across the room. Like Jesus turning the tables of money changers in the temple, my reaction struck a nerve, resulting in a tearful confession. If I only knew how bad his family life was, my methods would have changed. In view of this, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Rather, take the time to listen so that you can help those waiting to be healed from the pain of their past.
by Jay Mankus