It has been said that there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story. But how often do we label students early in the school year, and never allow them to grow beyond our label?
Obviously, a part of my job description is dealing with student discipline issues. As this year has progressed, it has been a blessing to see middle school kids grow and develop, many of them, hopefully having learned from less than great choices early in the year, now making some outstanding decisions about life.
Correct or not, I firmly believe that the past should be a learning experience, not an everlasting punishment. How often do we take the time to learn the story that motivates our students to make the choices they make? To steal from Annette Breaux, “Everyone in the classroom has a story that leads to misbehavior or defiance. 9 times out of 10, the story behind the misbehavior won’t make you angry. It will break your heart.”
One of the themes in the message at church this morning was to accept and attend. In order to do that, we have to turn loose of the old, give up control, and overcome our fears. Once we accept, we must attend to the relationships we have with those in the church, or in our classrooms. How much easier would it be to accept our students if we only knew their stories?
Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them for the rest of their lives. Sometimes good people make bad choices. It doesn’t mean they are bad people, it means they are human.
When I have the opportunity to visit with a student who has been “invited” to my office, I try to remember that while I know his name, I certainly don’t know his story. I have heard what he has done, but I have no idea what he has been through. And as I learn a bit about the story, I try not to judge it by the chapter I am a part of.
As for me, I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I think I will make a few more.