My emotions were on a roller coaster this past week. On one hand, I was relieved and happy with the relatively quiet work the students kept busy with. We even got back a student who had to take some time off for personal reasons–I was ecstatic to have this student back! Yet, I felt like I had failed to meet the need of one student the week before.
The story begins with a young student who had a very rough life. Neither parent was the primary caregiver for this student. By all appearances, neither really wanted to be involved in this student’s life. The student did not dare to let anyone close and was great at being able to manipulate to get what was perceived as needed or wanted. Sweet and happy one minute, the student was able to turn in an instant and rattle off accusations filled with cuss words that would make anyone blush. The emotional baggage this student carried due to circumstances was beyond my comprehension. I wanted so much to show I cared but also held the student to a high standard I felt was reachable in the classroom, but somehow it never seemed to work.
Every time I thought the two of us had made some gains in our understanding of each other, the student would do something that caused me to become very frustrated. The last straw was the day the student finished the one class she was willing to work on. The last few weeks she had been working with another Christian agency trying to get them to take over her education. Because she finished the class, she was under the impression she could leave right then and there but we had no paperwork to show this was the case and so she was not allowed to leave. Determined not to do any other school work, she decided to do things that distracted the other students. It came to a head after lunch when she decided to rap in a rather loud voice while in class. I asked her repeatedly to please be quiet but to no avail. I didn’t care so much if she was actually working on school work–I had told her she could draw or read; but keeping the others from their work was making the classroom rather loud and I was trying to work on a quiz with another student. When I could not get her to quiet down, I went to the office for help. In the end, she was expelled. I felt like I had failed her.
I know I can’t “save” everyone–she needed help that I was not trained to give and if I had focused more on her I would have had to let others in the class down. It just hurts every time you lose a student like that. It makes me realize how God must hurt when we reject His help or walk away from what He sets before us to help us. I am very thankful that, unlike me, God is able to help ALL His children and never give up on us. Nothing is impossible for Him.
So, as we head into the final six weeks of the regular school year, I need to remember that God is ultimately in control of that classroom. He will supply me with what I need according to His riches. And, I am not meant to make any seed grow. Sometimes, my job is to plant the seed as I did in the student who had to be expelled. Sometimes I might water a seed that someone else planted in the past. But only God can make that seed actually grow. I am just so thankful He has allowed me to be used by Him for His kingdom work in this classroom.