Core scripture: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
Message: There is an old saying that goes like this: When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you. We love to blame, don’t we? Teachers can blame lack of student success on so many things. Lack of parenting at home. Absences. Not giving effort. Distracting students in the classroom. Last year’s teachers. What I have found through the years is that the more I blame outlying circumstances, the less responsibility I take.
Our team has this kiddo. He misses at least one day a week. When he comes back the next day, he rarely takes responsibility to ask for homework he missed. He will try to slide under the radar by just staring at the wall. Minimal effort is given. He’s not really a distraction to others; he’s just lethargic. Lazy. Bad habits have plagued him all year long. He doesn’t seem to care about his low grades. Most teachers might dismiss this young man or even give up on him.
It is easy to blame here, isn’t it? Not our team. Spearheaded by our swashbuckling science teacher, she has led a charge to hold this kid accountable. We have tried a bit of everything. Holding him after school. Having mom in for three meetings 4th quarter. Getting mom to sign an agenda of outlying his missing work at home. Phone calls and e-mail. Holding him out of enjoyable activities to crank out missing work. We have all played a small role.
That kid has risen from a 6% in my class to a 52% as of this morning. As he sat in my back room last week doing work while the rest of the class enjoyed watching The Outsiders movie, I poked my head back there two or three times through the hour to quietly encourage him. It would be so easy to blame him and let him fail. But we can’t! He might hate us now for holding his feet to the fire, but we are not giving up. He knows that now.
Who is that kid in your classroom? Have you tried EVERYTHING? Have you already written that kid off and decided to pour your attention elsewhere to those who actually care? News flash … some kids are stubborn. Some kids need a little more work. And if we as Christian teachers give up on them, wouldn’t that show a bit of hypocrisy? Paul admonishes us in Galatians 6:9 when he says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Take responsibility. Keep fighting the good fight all the way till the end(2 Timothy 4:7). Stop casting blame on others, and step up to the plate. Sure, you may whiff a few times, but go down swinging, and then try again. And again. You never know when a fresh tactic might work, cranking a home run for all to applaud. And as that kid smiles, rounding the bases, giving a few high fives, you too will smile knowing that through your perseverance God is glorified.
Challenge: Who is that kid in your classroom? Don’t give up on them! Brainstorm a list of things you have NOT tried yet. Ask other teachers what works for them. Make it so that child has no option but to succeed based on your efforts to extend your hand out in love.
Video application: I found this video on YouTube. It talks about how failure is normal, and many times it leads to success. I am highly considering showing it to my students sometime over the next three weeks. Who knows who it might inspire to finish strong.
Quote: “As long as you continue to blame other people for your failures, you better be prepared to do one thing, and that is to continue to fail.” (Billy Mills)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me when I cast blame on others and fail to take responsibility. Help me to persevere through the end of the school year, not giving up on my students. Amen.