Perception vs. Reality

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       MY PERCEPTION                                        REALITY

 After already being taught so many lessons on the difference between my perception and God’s reality in my classroom you think I would have learned by now. Apparently, I needed a refresher course…

Recently, while in the middle of teaching a particularily difficult math lesson, I received a phone call from the front office at my school. I was informed that I was getting a new student and he was on the way to my classroom with his parents. Frantic and already stressed from the typical daily pressures of trying to prepare third graders for upcoming state standardized exams, I asked, “Are you sure it is my turn?” (In my school we have eight third grade classes and new students are assigned to classrooms on a rotating basis.) After quickly hanging up the phone, I stopped my math lesson and some students quickly helped me prepare a make-shift workspace since we did not have any extra desks or supplies in the classroom due to the short notice of his arrival. Within minutes I heard the knock at my door. My students waited with anticipation to meet their new classmate. I, on the other hand, just kept thinking of all the extra work that comes with getting a new student in the middle of the year. I would have to re-explain all my class policies, reorganize class materials, update all my gradebook subjects,  set up technology resources with his username and password and list went on. As I tried to put on a smile and opened the door, I was greeted by this young man and his parents. After welcoming them and letting them know we would need to set up a conference to discuss the class, I realized the family knew little English. Immediately, my mind was flooded with the fact that now on top of everything else, I would have to provide accomodations for his language instruction. As my students became antsy, I had to quickly refocus my thoughts on continuing the math lesson which I needed to finish before lunch to stay on pace with our curriculum map. I assigned a “buddy” to our new student and tried to gather my thoughts and redirect the class. All I kept thinking about was how this “interruption” would affect me and my workload…

MY PERCEPTION:    New student = more work for me.

As I drove home and reflected on the events of the day, I felt God’s conviction on my heart. I began to feel discouraged and disappointed in myself for my actions, thoughts and reactions. I began to think about all the previous lessons I have learned from my students on patience and self-control which I wrote about in my book. I also remembered this particular lesson from the chapter on “Kindness”: “I need continual reminders to “get myself off my mind.” My students have been a big part of my learning experience in this area.” God was once again reminding me through this experience that He has a game plan. His plan is to continue to use my experiences with my students to teach me. This time it was another lesson on patience, self-control and selfishness. I did not expect this lesson, but He knew it was exactly what I needed.

REALITY:  New student = another chance for me to learn His game plan.

My new student has adjusted quickly despite the language concerns. He has blended in nicely with my class and they have welcomed him with open arms…something I wish I had done. I have explained all the class policies. I did reorganize all the class materials. I was able to update all my gradebook subjects and set up technology resources with his username and password. (Of course, none of it took me as long as I thought it would.) Most of all, I have been reminded, yet once again, of God’s game plan from His book, the Bible:

“But when God’s Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” —Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

 LIFE LESSON: The reality of God’s love for us, as demonstrated through His son Jesus, is always greater than our own perceptions.                           

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