We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” because all of God’s “works are wonderful, (we) know that full well.” NIV, Psalm 139:14.
God did a wonderful job creating humans without exception. If we believe this truth, then we also believe that there is gold within every student, parent, and co-worker in which we interact. Sometimes, well often, the gold gets buried beneath the pains and scars of living in a fallen world. As teachers, we are honored with the opportunity to build relationships with the students who come into our classrooms; therefore, gifted with the opportunity to mine for the gold within every soul. And not just find it, but call it in existence.
The Layers of Rock
There are layers of rock and minerals that stand between miners and their prize. The process of mining for gold is quite intricate, time-consuming, and grueling. It is hard work to find, retrieve, and prepare the gold for profit.
Gold within our students is often masked by rock, the rock being their negative behavior. So, we must chisel past it.
“Oh, that kid is defiant! He/she won’t listen to a thing I say.” or…
” Yeah, he/she is spoiled– totally enabled and babied.”
Maybe those things are true… but, is a child’s misbehavior because they are “bad” or because they are in need? Does gold exist within the child that is making your job difficult?
Yes. Definitely yes.
People are often rather messy–effected by circumstances, tragedy, and a number of other factors. Kids are no exception. Their parents either. Does that excuse them? Certainly not. We are all held accountable for our actions, but considering their background and circumstances does help us because it gives us the grace and compassion that we need to dig past the “rock.”
Behind misbehavior, there is always a root cause. Behavior has a function, even if it is unknown to the student that is acting out. The defiant child in class is probably seeking control because his or her life is spinning rapidly out of control. The disruptive student might be seeking attention because he or she is completely ignored on a regular basis.
As teachers, we have the opportunity to not take misbehavior personally; rather, to help our students navigate their internal conflicts by meeting their needs in a positive way.
For example. the defiant child might benefit from guided options/choices and leadership roles. “Susie, you can sit at the horseshoe table to finish your writing, or you may sit at your desk, but the expectation is that you write one paragraph before recess.” “Ronald, will you be responsible for passing out the lunch tags– I know that I can trust you to do a good job.” Ya know, give them the control that they have been craving in a classroom-friendly way.
The attention-seeker that always disrupts lessons and classroom peace might benefit from being responsible for leading the morning message, warm-up, or presenting on behalf of his or her group, etc.. Or maybe they just need a ridiculous amount of public, classroom recognition.
Those are just two of the common issues I’ve been faced with, but there are many other functions behind misbehavior. You, the teacher, who know your students because you have worked tirelessly to build a relationship with each student, know the reasons behind their misbehavior. Help them meet their needs through positive avenues within your classroom. This isn’t a magic formula that works overnight. It takes steady, consistent, and patient work every day.
When I have a consistent behavior issue in my classroom, my first questions is: “What is this misbehavior accomplishing for my student?” The second question I ask is: “How do I help them accomplish the same goal in a positive way?”
Once we dig deep, past the rock, we will find the gold within.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” NIV, Romans 12:6
What is the gold within? Well, it’s your students’ gifts, natural abilities, personality strengths, leadership qualities, and talents. It is the stuff that will make them successful as adults and make a positive impact upon society. If you believe that everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made, then the gold is within.
We don’t always see the gold manifested in every person. Sure, it’s inside of them…they have strengths, but it isn’t lived out in their actions.
It is my belief, that if a teacher cares deeply enough to peel back the layers of rock and help students overcome their insecurities and circumstances, then, they will be able to call out the gold within their students. They will be able to communicate to their students that they have worth beyond measure, abilities and gifts that can be used to benefit their world, and a purpose. They have a hope and a future.
The Gospel Lived Out
Let’s consider what Christ has done for us. We were dead in our sins, incapable of living in perfection. Yet, God called us chosen and worthy of saving. He saw the gold within us– the very gold that He created. So, he sent His son, Jesus, to live the life that we could never live and die the death that we deserved. It was hard, it was messy, it took patient endurance, it took a whole lot of love, but though Christ’s sacrifice, He justified us. He made us new creations, totally and completely clean–blameless and spotless. He encouraged and strengthened us to live out our heavenly calling, walking faithfully in our gifts for the benefit of all and ultimately for His well-deserved glory. He is constantly sanctifying us and making us more like His Son. He doesn’t leave us in our brokenness and mess.
It’s a beautiful process.
When we meet our students’ brokenness head on, (manifested as misbehavior,) instead of ignoring it or making excuses, we are loving like Jesus. When we focus on patiently enduring and forgiving our students, we are loving them like Jesus. When we call out their true worth and potential, we are loving them like Jesus. May we strengthen, encourage, find, and call out the gold within the beautiful, messy masterpieces that God places in our care. Because didn’t He do the same for us?
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” NIV, Galatians 6:9