Have you ever wondered what students’ lives are like at home? I often think about this, wondering what are the events and circumstances that have shaped them to be who they are today.
Based on my interactions with students and from my personal childhood experiences, I know that kids are very good at masking the struggles that they face at home. Students also have different coping mechanisms, some will smile and make jokes, while others may act out or seem indifferent.
It’s doubtful that my teachers suspected that my dad was an alcoholic, or that on most nights I couldn’t sleep, even with a pillow over my head, because of my parents arguing. I was very good at masking my emotions. However, I was still fortunate to have people in my life that still made me feel valuable, including my mom and my teachers. Even though my teachers may not have known about my circumstances at home, they still had a major impact on my life, which is why I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted the opportunity to make kids feel valuable, even when they didn’t feel like it themselves.
For the past several years, my wife and I have organized and chaperoned our church’s youth group trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for a youth rally, where more than 16,000 teens gather to worship. While preparing a devotional, I came across the following story that I wanted to share with you:
A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.”He proceeded to crumple up the $20 bill. He then asked, “Who still wants it…?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.“My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.”“Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives come not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE.”“You are special, don’t EVER forget it.”
Many of our students are like that crumpled, dirty $20 bill. But no matter what their past entails, they are still priceless. It is our job to create an environment where they feel valued.
All of you have the opportunity to make a difference each and every day. When students get older, they may not remember specific academic lessons you taught them, but they will remember how you made them feel. Do your best to make them feel valuable.