Once upon a time someone beat his chest and said, “I KNOW WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM!” The tone of this statement was not one of understanding, but one of accusation. The saddest part was that he did not know at all where I was coming from. He did not know me. Once upon a time, I was accused of “attacking” someone when I was fighting for the rights of a child. Instead of understanding my “fight”, they thought they knew me. The saddest part was they did not know me and twisted my intentions. There have been many times when I have wanted to say, “Do you know who I am?” Do you know my strengths? Do you my fears? Do you know where I have been and where I am going?
There have been many times that I have failed. I have made many mistakes. I have done wrong. But what helps me to move forward? What helps to change my heart and my ways? It is understanding, empathy, forgiveness, love… If you want to change the heart of a person, you must know them. Once you know them, then you are able to guide and instruct. So it is when dealing with children.
Brian Mendler said during his presentation at the ASCD Empower conference 2019, “Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Build relationships. When there is a problem, make sure you know the real problem. Remember that education is more about changing people’s lives than test scores. Instead of focusing on consequences, focus on – How do I make that kid’s life better? Be a windshield – go forward; only glance back. Do not stare into the rearview mirror. Brian Mendler gave an example of a baby learning to walk. They try to walk and fall over and over again. We praise their failures. When they fail, our cheers are what they need the most. We show our love and caring by being there to pick them up.”
As we grow and become adults, don’t think that we stop needing these things. Sometimes we get tired of fighting. Sometimes there needs to be consequences. Even when consequences are given, we cannot forget that if we hope to change the direction of a heart – we have to know the real problem and know the child and strive to change the hurt into a “new” heart and new perspective.
As an adult, I have come to understand that people don’t always care to understand who I am. I have to work from a perspective that I must know who I am. I do have to look at myself, my actions, and determine my heart. Sometimes I am wrong and need to change. Other times, I must stand firm if I put children first. Personally, the one thing that has gotten me through “misunderstandings”, failures, wrongdoings, pointing fingers… - is reliance on my Lord and Savior. He is the only one who truly knows my heart and my intentions. He offers me guidance and forgiveness. He changes my heart through His love.
Jesus was the greatest teacher to walk this earth. He was a role model for instruction and changing hearts. He gave strong words to the Pharisees who thought they knew it all. And He gave his life and love for all wrongs. “God only knows what you’ve been through. God only knows what they say about you. God only knows the real you.” God will not leave you or forsake you. God did not and will not give up.
The best teachers give children hope. They understand “broken” hearts. They don’t give up. Consequences are given with love and as a way to guide children to changing the heart. “Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Build relationships!”