Thursday, March 2, 2023

Fading into the Background

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Kyle talked about Where’s Waldo and how easy it was for people to fade into the background. Waldo and Jesus can be overlooked in all the “busy-ness” around them. He also talked about how the artist would draw in Waldo last but Jesus was different because Jesus wasn’t an afterthought. He is always with us.

This reminded me of my years when I was a student. I was very quiet and didn’t want any attention drawn to me. I wanted to fade away in the background. Sitting in the rows of desks, I would try to hide my body behind the person in front of me. I never raised my hand to answer questions even if I knew the answer. The reason I did this was that I was scared. For many years, I faced a lot of bullying and hoped that if the bullies didn’t notice me, they would leave me alone.

I was also afraid of failure and giving the wrong answer. If I did this, it would also cause the teacher to pay attention to me. I felt that my parents expected me to be perfect. Making a mistake would disappoint my parents and I would be crushed.

I just wanted to survive my school years and I feared that if I didn’t fade into the background, I wouldn’t make it.

This had me thinking about many of my students. I’m not talking about the students who act out or craze attention. Some of my students were very quiet and withdrawn. Many of my students were bullied because they had special needs. Other students picked on them because they were different. Some of my students had years of difficulties in school, so they saw my class as just one more year of more difficulty.

As a teacher, I would try to seek these students out. I didn’t want them to feel like an afterthought. I wanted my students to feel safe and not overlooked. If they were being bullied, I wanted them to feel safe. I wanted them to see that I noticed what was happening and would stop the situation. I also didn’t want my students to feel afraid of making mistakes. I wanted them to see that these were just learning opportunities. An error should not be a terror.

I wanted to be like Jesus and show my students that I would be there for them. They were not alone. I didn’t want my students to have the same school experience that I grew up with. I wanted to be their safety net and show them that learning opened the door to so many possibilities. I wanted to help them face the bullies and stand up to them. I wanted to help them face the fear of failure and overcome this obstacle that keeps them from learning.  Together, we can be successful because no one walks alone. 

Do you see these students in your classes? How do you help them? Please share.

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