My preacher once taught me how to live life with a balance between acknowledging my humanity and reverencing my spirituality. I had a tendency to beat myself up when I failed to live up to the mandates of living a good life, so I needed his guidance in order to keep my sanity.
I learned how to accept moments of frustration, anger, or hurt as just that…moments. I learned to allow myself to be annoyed, mad or offended, and then move on. Now I say, “I’m having a bad 5 minutes,” and then I process through the difficulties and ultimately walk in resolve.
I believe my preacher was trying to teach me that we cannot escape our human emotions. We were created to feel, and trying to squelch our emotions only brings us frustration and guilt. Perhaps his lesson resides in the foundational principle: love is patient; love is kind. Love not just for ourselves, but for those around us as well.
The lesson has changed my life dramatically. It has also altered my career in positive ways. With each ring of the bell, a new crew of bumbling, pimple-faced, dysfunction walks into my classroom, and with them come inevitable moments of hysteria or behavioral paralysis. What a grand opportunity, then, is the school day a chance to practice this philosophy.
Second period may try my nerves, but third period doesn’t deserve to reap the consequences of a bad mood they didn’t create. Same with fourth period’s doozy kid-combo who pushes my buttons with their tag-teamed antics. Fifth, sixth and seventh periods deserve a fresh start in the competition to drive their English teacher crazy. So, I give it to them.
In today’s classroom, the chance to really teach children how to handle their emotions is a pivotal part of a teacher’s job. Modeling good, sound behavior is imperative. Portraying honesty, kindness, self-control and acceptance is vital. Some teachers can do it, and some can’t.
Some teachers have only one way to cope with troublesome situations within the classroom. They yell. These are the disgruntled teachers with high blood pressure and permanent frowny faces. They diffuse the situation through dismissing the child. Logic tells us the same action probably occurs at home and affords no solutions to the issue at hand.
But then a teacher like Sonjia Roberts offers a breath of fresh air. She’s a special education teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and she oozes patient and kind love to her students. Here’s a small example of her sun-shiney disposition.
Years back a transfer student came to MLK with a 3-inch think folder full of discipline reports. His reputation at his former school was notorious and his future was already noted as bleak. The little guy started listing all of his behavioral run-ins to Mrs. Roberts, who kindly interrupted the recitation. “Thank you, young man, but every teacher and every school is different. Now you have an opportunity to change your behavior and start over.”
The loving reception and opportunity for a redo offered the young boy what he needed, and he responded. From a thick folder of dysfunction to an entire school year with no discipline referrals, the young man accepted the patient love offered by a kind Mrs. Roberts. He erased his reputation and his blemished potential and went on to graduate from high school.
Now, that’s the impact of a loving, patient teacher.