Core scripture: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” (Proverbs 4:7)
Message: I have to admit I have no clue what some of my afternoon remote students look like. Blank screens on Zoom get under my skin; they annoy me like a rash. I wonder what goes on behind those blank screens.
Are they gaming? Watching movies? Texting? Napping? That is where my mind goes sometimes. It is all a huge conspiracy to allow them to play Among Us, the new hit online game. While I teach they check out, doing what they want to do. In short, I assume the negative.
But what if the screens were off for a different reason? What if they were trying to hide something? What if they didn’t want me to see their alcoholic father passed out on the couch? What if they were embarrassed they had to take care of four younger siblings while their single mom worked three jobs to make ends meet? Or maybe they are simply embarrassed of their one room apartment.
Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
I realize I judge all too often that students are relaxing behind the blank screen as opposed to doing something else. Matthew 7:1 reminds us, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It reminds me of a student I had five or six years ago.
The kid wasn’t doing a thing in any of our classes. He came across as lazy and unmotivated. We finally scheduled a parent meeting with his mom—you know, to whip him into shape. What we learned from mom dropped a bomb on our previous theory. The kid was struggling dealing with the abusive relationship his older sister was in, and the family was moving to get away. That was the last day we saw him.
I tell this story to remind us all that you need to investigate a little before you jump to conclusions. Make a phone call home. Schedule a Zoom meeting with mom or dad. Or simply pull the student aside in a private breakout room and gently probe into whatever issue needs to be addressed. Be honest. Let them know that you want to see them to get the most out of their learning.
I will say that the students who have their videos on typically have higher grades than those whose videos are off. That is a reason right there to want to reach out to those blank screens to get them turned on. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is judging the motivation behind the blank screen.
Think positive. Be encouraging. Take the log out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5). Don’t get discouraged by those blank screens. The more you make those students feel at home in your class, the more likely they are to expose their true colors, accepting a welcoming hand.
Challenge: Check your attitude right now. Do you assume the worst, or do you think positive? Are you quick to judge, or do you seek understanding? Pray that God would open your eyes to see troubled students in a new light, reaching out to them in love.
Prayer points: Make an effort to pray this week over the following list:
- Pray for my school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle that will begin meeting on Zoom Wednesday mornings from 7:00 to 7:30 am. We start tomorrow!
- Pray for students with rough home lives that have to go to school remotely.
- Pray that we as Christian teachers can remain positive and encouraging during these difficult times.
Just for fun: Ever have those days when you battle technology with no success? Check out this hilarious video entitled “Teachers vs. Technology.”
Prayer: Lord, grant me understanding, patience, and wisdom with the unseen problems thrust upon my students. Let me be quick to listen, not to judge. Amen.