Is This Kid Going To Be OK?
As a special education teacher, I have been asked this question many times. You have all asked this question about at least one struggling student. As a preschooler, maybe she has a hard time holding a pencil, writing her name, and sitting still. In older grades she doesn’t read well and only turns in about half her assignments. Or perhaps it’s the little boy who doesn’t understand patterns and skips numbers when he counts. If he’s older, he can’t understand math, no matter how many times and ways you show him how to do a certain problem. You look at the child’s name on your class list and ask, “Is this kid going to be OK? How am I going to fix this?”
Before you spiral down a rabbit hole of despair, remember, it is not just your mission; it is a shared mission. Other teachers will have a chance to work with this child in the future. There are parents or guardians to partner with you in this mission. You can seek the help of other professionals to unravel this puzzle of a child. Most of all, God Almighty has placed this child in your path. He has given you a blessing that you can share with this youngster. You may not know what it is, and it may have very little to do with school, but there is a reason this kid is in your room. Rather than seeing a burden, see an opportunity to share a gift God has given you. God often has planned for you to learn something from this child as well.
In order to do this, relationship is key. Get to know your student as a person. Find out where his strengths are. Ask her questions about what she does when she is not at school. Listen and find a way to have that student teach you something that is new for you. Most students who struggle think that their teachers don’t like them. They equate bad grades and lectures about poor quality or missing work with a personal dislike. Students who struggle already aren’t going to be willing to risk trying something difficult for someone who doesn’t like them. When you take a personal interest in that child, he will be more willing to risk failure on the way to success.
This brings us to another key to building this child into who God wants her to be: believe that she can succeed. Not by your power or will, but by a partnership between God, yourself, and this student. Let her know that you believe she can do it. Let him know that you prayed for him today. Find success, even if it is small, and celebrate it. Look for ways to show approval that are just between the two of you.
These suggestions will not solve every problem that your struggling student has, but they will set you on a path to solutions. They will help you bond and be on the same team. God will bless your investment of time, love, and talent.
May Jesus bless your efforts!