At the beginning of the school year one of our directors challenged us, as teachers, to think of our classroom as church – a place where we preach the gospel, praise God for His goodness, and give hope to the weary soul. In an e-mail sent yesterday, this same director reminded us of this way of thinking. Although I admit I hadn’t really thought about the challenge she had given us in August much over the past few months, but looking back, I realized I have done quite a bit of “church-ing” this school year.
Since I get the privilege to teach six different classes a day, sometimes I get to be the preacher of the gospel and sometimes I get to receive it. Sometimes a group of four year olds, their profesora, and I get to praise our heads off while dancing around singing “I am free to run!” Sometimes I am the weary soul who just needs a bit of hope.
And sometimes all of those sometimes take place of the very same day. Which happened yesterday. What follows is a “how’s that going?” as it pertains to one class in particular, a class that more often than not leaves my soul feeling weary and my throat feeling sore.
Yesterday after repeating myself for what felt like the hundredth time (hopefully raising my voice with every repetition) I realized that nothing I was saying was making any difference. Most of the students in this particular class have made it abundantly clear that whether or not they are obeying me does not matter. Whether or not they win a sticker has no effect on their behavior. Whether or not their class gets Centers on Thursday is zero motivation to pay attention. So yesterday I decided to try another way.
This month we have been learning Jesus You’re My Superhero and yesterday during class we were practicing for the Family Activity that we had last night. At least, I was trying to practice, but geeze louise! I had finally gotten through the review part of the class (with only five “Maria Fernanda, lower your chair”‘s and only four “Alexa! Pay attention”‘s and maybe three “Yosmar, stop touching Samuel”‘s) and asked the students to stand up so that we could practice our song. As they are standing, one girl says, “Look at Ms Madelin!” who was outside putting together the nativity. Promptly, every head in the room turned to the window, and three kids actually ran to the door to look at the same teacher they stare at all day every day.
So I kind of lost it.
“SERIOUSLY?! YOU LOOK AT MS MADELIN ALL DAY EVERY DAY! IS SHE CARRYING SOMETHING? IS THAT WHY THIS IS SO INTERESTING?! SIT DOWN!”
Then I had them all sit back down so we could talk about some things. I asked them about the song we were singing. “This song says, ‘Jesus is my superhero,’ right? Well why? Why is Jesus your superhero?”
Some students said that he is our superhero because he is our Savior. I questioned, “Why do we need a Savior?” They answered, “Sin!” “What’s sin?” I challenged and the students responded with some great examples. “Disobedience! Telling lies! Hitting people! Saying bad words!”
I did my best to explain to the students that if Jesus really is our superhero, then we want to obey Him. “Right? Right.” And part of obeying Jesus is obeying other people. I told the students that I have to obey Ms Noemi and Ms Lynn and Ms Alli because they are my directors. I told the students that when I was their age I had to obey my teachers and my parents, because that is what Jesus has asked us to do and Jesus is our superhero. I told the students that if Jesus really is their superhero, then something needs to change. (Namely, their behavior.)
I have no idea if any of my broken, emotional Spanish actually got through to the students but something does need to change. Yelling and positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement aren’t working. What else is there but Jesus?