A CHILD'S NAME, TABLE BLESSING OR SOMETHING WE MUST ALL PRACTICE HOURLY?
Thesaurus uses the following synonyms for GRACE: compassion, forgiveness, kindness and love. Are we practicing these words in our day to day lives?
It was a lovely dinner party. The evening began with animated conversations where I discovered that a gentleman in attendance worked at the very same school which actually ended my career in teaching. If the word “trigger” is an appropriate term, his presence did so immediately as I wondered if he knew of my demise at the hands of this school. As the dinner progressed, the table topics addressed concerns regarding the world’s “progressive agenda,” the woke yoke ideology put upon our public schools and a sincere hope our world did not end up in nuclear war. It was a conservative, Christian point of view conversation, with like minds.
As the party adjourned into the night, one more fleeting comment came from the gentleman, now employed at my former school. He brought up the name John Smith (not his real name.) Had I worked with him? Yes, I answered. This was followed by “Well you know John is a Christian.” I could not answer kindly so instead I blurted out “Please don’t say you visited with me as John was more than happy to see me fired!”
John Smith plotted three, maybe almost four years to have me forced out of my position. How did he do this? At least once a week, he made the lengthy trip down three hallways to share with he principal his dislike for my teaching practices and how my program was allowed to grow and his wasn’t. He spoke ill of me in front of his students. On many occasions, he used his power to deny my students rehearsal space needed before concerts. Early in our working relationship, I remarked to John that at least he and I were Christians and should find common ground. His reply? He did not want to be defined by his Christian beliefs. Soon I understood why. He did not comprehend grace and therefore, was incapable of extending it. Not to me and many times, not to his students.
Back to the party. How I wanted to speak truth about this former colleague! But the words did not come, which really frustrated me on the ride home. Why didn’t I reply, “John Smith a Christian? You gotta be kidding!” Later that night, I fantasized about what I should have said. Even when I laid my head down to sleep, the furious words were still percolating. I was unfairly forced out of my position by an administration who relied on John Smith’s (and a couple of others) negative perceptions of me. In my book, I wrote about the 4:41 Forgiveness Plan. After loosing my job in 2017, I awoke at 4:41 a.m. one morning, some months later, and decided I had to forgive all those who had gone out of their way to deny me due process and were complicit in my firing. It was an act born out of sheer selfishness! I needed to grant grace to those who reined hurt on me so that I could move forward in my life.
I was reminded this morning about my 4:41 Forgiveness Plan by a gracious God whisper! After five years, that plan still needed to be in place or my heart would certainly be convicted of denying grace to those who wronged me. I let go of the deeds John initiated and realized it was now my time to once again, grant grace. So where is the relevance to education in this story? It’s simple. Students, parents, teachers and administrators must learn to grant grace to one another.
Here are just a sampling of day to day challenges for STUDENTS:
Instead of taking home hyperbolic complaints about a teacher you don’t relate to, grant that teacher GRACE and accept their faults.
It’s easy to fire back a hateful reply (either verbally or via social media) but just take a step back and ask yourself: is that how I want to be treated. It’s called GRACE.
More challenges for PARENTS:
At 7 a.m., while in your pajamas, step away from the computer and don’t hit send on that vitriol email to your child’s teacher.
Find ways to extend GRACE to your children’s teachers and administrators when you don’t agree with their methods. Fact find, explore ways to find common ground, and have conversations in person.
Support your colleagues. Teaching in this new world ideology is lonely on most days and career-ending on others.
Create an environment for your students and colleagues which is GRACE amplified and kindness practiced every single day.
ADMINISTRATORS must be exemplary in granting GRACE:
There are always two sides to every complaint. Don’t assume you know the facts until you’ve listened to all involved. This includes students, parents and staff.
Use words and actions which demonstrate your ability to live your professional life in
showing compassion, forgiveness, kindness and love daily. You need to incorporate this so when the worst days occur, you choose GRACE automatically instead of a hard heart, unforgiveness, anger and hate.
If you read this article and believe perhaps that your school, staff, parents, teachers and administrators could use some encouragement, please purchase RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD! It won the 2020 Topshelf non-fiction book award and the 2022 Maincrest Media non-fiction award . Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Here is a better idea: contact me and I will help any school board or school district implement the Golden Rule Project. Contact me by clicking on the links provided.