As this school year comes to an end I have been reflecting on this past year. This year was significantly more challenging than last year. I struggle in that I do not want to compare my students as they are each unique individuals, but I know that I can learn and grow in the reflecting process by noticing the differences in both my students and myself. I do not want to blame my students for my actions, but if I am being honest in this reflection, it will be a struggle.
I started this year excited and ready to go. I was passionate about continuing standards based grading, implementing number talks, and build relationships with a new group of students.
My first struggle was …. it is time to take a detour….
Mercy & Grace
I hope that I was able to show my students grace and mercy this year, but I know that I have failed immensely in both of these areas. I struggled as I was trying to be merciful by letting a late student into class without a pass, but that turned into many of my students thinking that that could come in late. I tried to show mercy in not writing a student a referral, but having a conversation with them instead about their behavior. I tried showing mercy in giving students multiple chances at assignments and to improve their behavior or attitude. I failed time and time again as it seemed that my students began to expect mercy as they did not understand that they should be punished. It seemed that my students did not have any understanding of what they do and do not deserve. They were not aware of the mercy I was trying to show them as they grew to expect mercy.
I have learned that I am just like my students. I have come to expect God’s mercy. I am unaware of the punishment that my sin truly deserves. I am unaware of all the times that God shows me mercy. I am unaware of God’s true greatness as I am focused inwardly on myself and my desires. I have missed the times that God has shown me mercy in my job, in relationships, and in all aspects of life.
Grace is unmerited favor. One of my goals was to show grace to my students. As I look back this is such a silly goal. I was hoping that I could show my students grace and I was looking to myself for that power. I tried to give my students so much of my time and give them multiple opportunities from the beginning to complete their work. I tried to be understanding of my student’s struggles and to meet them where they were.
My downfall was that I was trying to do all of the work. I am not capable of being gracious on my own and this led to so much frustration this year. God gives me grace upon grace, yet I did not look to Him as the source of my power to give grace to my students. Again, my students were unaware of the ways that I was showing them grace and they grew to expect it. I am no better. I have come to expect God’s grace to the point when I may not feel God’s grace I am wondering where God is and what He is doing. The reality is that we all live in a world that is full of God’s grace, yet we are discontent and complain about our circumstances. I struggle with this as I should be in awe of God’s abundant grace instead of consumed by my own circumstances. I am learning that I need to continually shift my focus to God each day, which means I am shifting my focus away from myself.
This is a brief reflection in comparison to all that I have learned this year. This year is not at all what I expected or hoped for in terms of the learning environment and my classroom academically. This year I learned more about myself and more importantly about my Heavenly Father. I have been reminded of His unconditional love, mercy, grace, and compassion. His love is steadfast and He is forever faithful. Christ is all that I need and that is where my sufficiency lies. I am not made sufficient or worthy by my works, my dedication, my devotion, or anything that comes from myself or others. I am made sufficient by Christ’s work on the cross to make the payment for my sins so that I might have a relationship with the one true God. This relationship is marked by all that God has done for me and my only response is worship.