Working with Students Who Challenge Me

Earlier this week as I was reshelving books in my classroom library, I found a photo inside one of them. It was a picture of one of my students as a young boy, probably two or three years old, being held by his mom. For some reason, looking at that picture really struck me. This boy can be a challenge to work with. I think that I’m a fairly patient teacher, but he is someone who tests my patience quite often.

Looking at the picture, seeing him with his mom as a young boy, made me think about my girls, one who is in preschool and the other who just turned two. I love them both and think they’re amazing, and as their dad, I know I’ll always feel that way. As they get older, though, who knows what they’ll be like, what challenges they might present to their teachers? I pray that they’ll be blessed with teachers who will see them like I see them, who will be patient and love them unconditionally, who will have high expectations for them but not get frustrated when they make mistakes, who will treat them with respect even if they aren’t always respectful.

As a teacher, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture with kids. When a student is being difficult, it’s easy to look at him or her simply as someone who is making our day harder. It’s easy to forget that somewhere out there is a mom or dad, a grandma or grandpa, someone who loves that child like I love my own girls.

When this boy came to class the next day, I gave the picture back to him Part of me, though, wanted to keep it as a reminder. I hope that in the moments where I feel my patience wearing thin (like today, actually), I can remember the picture and the way his mom looked at him back then, take a deep breath and relax, and keep each interaction I have with him the rest of the year positive. I hope that, even without a visual reminder, I can remember this for each of the students in my class.

 

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