Sometimes the amazing kids are labelled the trouble kids. I come across them a lot in my job, which I’ve written about before.
Recently I had a chat with a young person who absolutely broke my heart. After they left my room the song ‘Hosanna’ from Hillsong came to mind, specifically:
“Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours”
I think that because these kids’ surface behavior is what is most noticeable, the ‘bad’ behaviour, this is what they are known for, and treated accordingly. It’s in the trying to look deeper, to the things unseen, listening to the stories, where we learn that these kids are awesome. And often sad, lonely, hurt, frustrated and completely unaware of the potential they hold.
I want so much to make a difference for these kids but school policy states that I supervise them, I don’t chat with them. Which is so hard when my heart is to minister.
Well this time I broke the rules. You can slap me on the hand but I couldn’t sit back in silence. I had a student in my room without anyone else, and the usually jovial young person, was down with a very ‘I don’t care’ attitude. After witnessing an interaction with a teacher I decided to talk.
I looked at their academic notes and I saw evidence of a kid who is academically capable. So I said so (there was a smile). And I said if they were my child, I’d be proud of those academic results (there was disbelief, and another smile).
I knew I was talking to a keen sportsperson so I asked about that. Then they really started to talk. About sports injuries, training, their coach, family life which is ‘not that good’, about struggles physically getting to school, and so much more.
I encouraged the student to keep up with school and to attain the highest qualifications possible to keep their options in life wide open. I encouraged their natural leadership ability while cautioning on when this might be best used (not so much for mischief in the class!) and told them they had huge potential. We talked about potential career paths and I encouraged the first choice as realistic and achievable. I also said I thought they’d be great.
I am so frustrated that the ‘rules’ don’t allow me to have more conversations with these kids. I’m perfectly placed – I’m not a classroom teacher so the kids don’t have some of the issues with me that they seem to have with teachers. It’s the ‘trouble makers’ who naturally end up with me (in the ‘time-out’ room). I’m not pretending to be a counselor, or to have the answers but as I saw with this student, most of the time they just need someone to listen.
We had a casual, frank 40 minute conversation today. I did much less than a third of the talking.
I do feel like I made a different this time. We had a good chat. And when this student left they looked me in the eye, smiled and said ‘thanks Miss’. I just hope something I said might stick. They are right on the edge of becoming a statistic, I pray they choose to meet their potential and become so much more.
Sorry if this doesn’t read so well, I tried really hard to keep the post gender neutral so as not to give any clues to the identity of my student for obvious reasons.