Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice or consider the beam [of timber] that is in your own eye?
It is easy as a teacher to form preconceptions. In fact, that is what we are required to do. We are asked to write reports about students and tell their parents about the student’s abilities. No matter how good the intention or how well you do assessment, once we judge the student, we have formed a preconception in our own minds, in the parents mind and in the student’s mind.
The class, and student body as a whole, notice the way we treat every student and gather information about test scores, discipline and gossip on an almost sinister level. They are then cross evaluating each other and using the information to reposition themselves, and others, as smart, stupid, naughty, athletic, teacher’s pet etc. Preconceptions are dangerous ! Let me see if I can illustrate why and tie my point into the verse above.
I have been teaching in the same grade, at the same school for 6 years now. I know the students and how they behave. I would like to share a couple of stories that God has pulled together to teach me an extremely valuable lesson.
I had a student for the whole year, a girl. She nearly always forgets her books and rarely does her homework. I would see her around the school and often noticed that her father and mother delivered her to school, carried her bag to the front door for her and often hung around, paying too much interest to her welfare.
Being an astute guy who notices most things, I tied all this together. I had tried a whole range of ways to get the girl to be more responsible but I had narrowed it down to the fact that the parents doted on her too much. They were smothering her and she couldn’t develop a sense of responsibility and independence.
Just 2 weeks ago I was starting my class by asking everyone what they did for their weekend. I get students to raise their hand if their weekend was excellent and then ask them to share why. Next if their weekend was good and finally if their weekend was bad. The girl raised her hand for ‘bad’ and I asked her what she did that made it bad, here is the conversation that followed:
She replied “We went to my bother’s grave”
“Oh, I’m sorry, when did he die” I asked, trying to stop myself from saying something like ‘you poor thing are you ok ?’
“ Two years ago” My brain is going at a million miles an hour and I am a big believer that talking about things helps to make you feel better so I continued.
“And how old was he?”
“ Two years old” she replied in a very monotone voice
“ Do you miss him ?”
And that was the end of the conversation.
…..see part two