Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘classroom management’

Jo 17It’s so easy to judge others, isn’t it? As I watch the news each evening, I often do just that when I hear of someone who has reportedly committed a crime or some ‘celebrity’ who has gone off the rails. Admittedly, their track record might speak for itself—but we don’t really know all the facts. So often, we make up our minds about people on a very small amount of information, don’t you think? And that information might well be quite biased anyway.

I remember some girls I taught at an exclusive school when I was all of twenty-one years old. In my naivety, I assumed there was no excuse for any of them to do poorly or behave badly. After all, most came from such privileged backgrounds. Yet I recall one boarder who had trouble passing any exam and would rarely speak in class. When she did, she was quite aggressive. What internal battles was she facing? Homesickness? Loneliness? Lack of self-esteem? I did not enquire and ignored her, failing her in a particular exam by one mark when, in grace, I could easily have encouraged her and no doubt found that mark somewhere.

Twenty years later, I returned to teaching, ending up at a school where students were graded. I taught Introductory Language to all ten Year Seven classes there. Can you imagine how keen that poor tenth class was to learn a foreign language? I worked hard to make my lessons interesting and accessible for them. I cajoled. I threatened. I yelled—a lot. And, in my heart, I judged them as hopeless. Only occasionally did I ever wonder what difficulties they might be facing in their home and family life. Instead, I ranted and raved when homework was not done or the relevant workbook was missing.

Recently, I read some words attributed to the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria:

Be kind to all, because everyone is fighting a great battle.

Yes, those students in my classes were no doubt fighting lots of battles. And, as I think of many around me today, I am aware how real those battles are for them too, in some shape or form. But that’s only those I know about. What are the stories behind the faces of those in our street, at the shopping centre, on the train or bus, at work—at church?

Appearances can be deceptive. Someone might seem to have it all together, yet inside they may well be fighting ongoing emotional battles or wrestling with huge spiritual issues. Some might agonise over things we feel are relatively trivial—yet they are real to them. Some might gain a quick victory in a particular battle, while others may struggle a lifetime. But who am I to judge? Instead, my task is to be kind to all and sensitive to their struggles—as well as very mindful of some wise words Jesus once said:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:37-38

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

Jo 23This week, I managed to do something I have never done before in the eight years I have been signing my own books. In one brief moment of inattention while talking with a customer, I wrote my maiden name instead of the one I have had for almost forty-six years now! For a moment, I could not believe it. Feeling very embarrassed, I owned up to my silly mistake, hastily reached for a second copy and tried again. And this time, I managed to write my name correctly!

How did I do such a thing? What could have caused my mind to flip back through all those years? One would think forty-six years would be long enough for a change of surname to sink into anyone’s brain. Perhaps my momentary lapse had been due to tiredness, I decided. After all, I had just finished speaking at a women’s breakfast. On top of that, there were those four one-hour long creative writing workshops I had given one after the other the previous day to high school students from four different year levels. Many moons ago, I used to be a high school teacher, but had barely set foot in a classroom since. So these workshops had not only required much effort on my part but had also sent my mind reeling back to past years.

As I later told my husband what I had done, however, I began to see a profound personal lesson emerging from it all. Throughout all those years since I had changed my name from Wardrop to Berthelsen in 1969, God had never left me. God had been with me even through that turbulent teaching period of my life, strengthening me and enabling me to keep going. The previous day, as I had stood in front of those students, I had felt almost a different person from the one I had been all those years earlier. Back then, I was so insecure, struggling to survive in a sea of noisy students. Now I felt so much more confident and at home in myself. Now I was delighted to be able to share my heart for God and my passion for writing with the students in front of me.

These days, it seems I am quite able to forget my own name in certain circumstances. That book with my maiden name in it now resides on a shelf here in my study as a permanent reminded of this fact. But I know one thing for sure. God will never, ever forget my name. And God will continue to watch over me with great love and faithfulness until that day when we meet face to face. The words God spoke to the Israelites so many years ago are also true for me today—and for you:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands … Isaiah 49:15

How blessed we are to belong to the God who knows all things, including our past, our present and our future, and who will never ever forget our name!

Read Full Post »