Teacher Secret — Students are Works in Progress

When I look back at this 2008 Christmas picture of Austyn Grace and compare it to this year’s photos, I almost gasp at the growth in her. But even greater than physical changes are the personality and verbal leaps she’s made in three years.

Because of the distances that separate us, we usually see our grandchildren somewhere between two and five times a year. The 18-month-old with a vocabulary of 40-50 words blossoms into the delightful chatterbox who has so many questions about what her Daddy acted like “when he was a little boy.”

Sometimes, when I got discouraged over a student’s lack of intellectual growth, my left-brained husband, the engineer,  would remind me, “They’re not 40 or 50, Flo; they’re still kids, even if they think they’re adults.”

Seeing AG dressed up like a miniature Scarlett O’Hara this January, I thought of Dave’s words to me when I used to teach. Children make appear grown, yet underneath, they remain children. Give them those growing up years!

Still. getting the correct balance of students’  responsibility paired with their lack of life experiences and their age-appropriate immaturity is an unknown chemical equation! It is, however, a balance every good teacher does well to remember on a daily basis.

Do not expect that the students will bring  adult life experiences to the classroom when you discuss a piece of literature or speak of the difficulties of living through the Depression. Sadly, however,  many will carry physical and emotional hurts no child should bear.  Without being trained psychologists, many teachers find themselves faced with more than they ever bargained for. Get help! The word refer comes to mind first. If the problem proves severe and disrupts education, seek the aid of other professionals. Know the law about things you must report. Remember that a teacher in elementary school has about 24 other students. A middle or high school teacher with five classes per day, may interface with over 100 students.

Know that at all school age, students’  maturity operates on a sliding scale. One day the students behave beautifully; the next, making them sit still looks like trying to tack Jello to the wall. Balance holding the learners to a high standard of responsibility while, at the same time,  making some allowances for age-appropriate behavior. God is not finished with me yet; surely He has much to do in students’ young lives!

I love this photo of AG teaching her little sister to read. It reminds me of a children’s song about patience.I believe the album from about 30 years ago featured a slow moving worm who sang these lyrics:

“Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember, that God is patient too,  and think of all the times when others have to wait for you!”

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