Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Building Relationships With Your Students

At a recent conference, I became convicted of my need to build relationships with my students. Teaching Inside the Classroom is more than lecturing and pouring information into students’ heads. As teachers, we need to connect with our students, earn their trust, show we are interested in their lives and in them as people. How can they know that Jesus loves them if we aren’t willing to demonstrate that love to them?

I’m a great one for preparing my lessons. I study a lot beforehand. I spend hours on my unorthodox teaching activities and my interesting lesson presentations. My weak point has been the relational aspect. Usually, by Sunday, I’m so hurried and frazzled to get everything together, that who has time to stop and ask kids about their week? As I said, I became convicted that I have put the cart before the horse and this was an area I need to work on. So I started to work on my student/teacher relationships.

“Hi Blanton, how are you?”
Grunt.
“How was school this week?”
“Bad.”
“What’s your favorite subject?”
“None of them.”

Okay, this was going nowhere fast. But I wasn’t going to give up. After all, I’m a firm believer in the adage, “God calls us to be faithful, not successful.” I was going to reach out to Blanton regardless of how monosyllabic his responses were. It took a couple months, but I noticed a gradual change in his responses.

“Hi Blanton, how are you?”
“Good.”
“Did you go swimming this week?”
“Yeah.”
“How was that?”
“Good.”

My heart soared the week he initiated conversation with me to tell me about somewhere he had gone. But last week was the clincher. I had had to correct him about taking bottled water from the church kitchen without asking and for assuming that it was his to take. While he needed the discipline, I felt badly. I so wanted to earn this boy’s trust. As he slunk out the door with his aunt, I called, “Hey Blanton, have a good week.”

He stopped and looked at me. Without the typical Eeyore inflection in his voice, he said, “Thank you! You have a good week too.”

Once again, the children Inside my Classroom are teaching me. Relationship building takes time. And persistence. Inside the Classroom is no place for personal insecurity. We keep loving our students no matter what their outward response might be. Someday, the love of Jesus we share just might shine through their cracking fa├žade.

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