Why All This Yelling?
By Althea Gordon-Scott
As a special education teacher, I move from room to room. The last period of the day, I teach a multi-grade self-contained English class. I walk into the room that these students have been sitting in for most of the day. They have been with each other all day long and can’t stand each other or school anymore. Instead of completing the assignments I have given, a few students are running around the room; a few others are yelling profanity-laced words at each other; one is telling me, “Can you tell her to stop laughing, I don’t know why she keeps laughing, she is annoying.” Another is saying to me, “Yo, I hate this class! Can I get out of this special ed class?”
In exasperation I shriek, “SHUT UP!”
This is opposite of “Have the same attitude as Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5). Jesus was humble. Even though he was King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He submitted himself and served with diligence, compassion, and care for people. He spent time with those who were seen as less than. He spent time with those who are considered sinners. He listened to their needs. He provided for them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He brought life and healing to them through His words and actions. As educators, we can follow His example and be humble towards our leaders, colleagues, and students. Humility does not mean we let people walk over us. It just means that we allow God to use us to treat others better than we may think they deserve—that we think about their needs before our own wants and desires.
Yes, even the disobedient student and the girl who cursed you out and the boy who annoys you and gets on your last nerves in every class, needs you to respond with humility, love and care. In my teaching practice, there are times when I have done this and there are other times when I have lashed out in anger. The Bible reminds me that my “anger does not bring about the righteousness God desires” (James 1:20). He wants us to be quick to listen to our students, colleagues, and supervisors; and slow to speak and slow to become angry.
God wants us to be slow to speak so we can hear what He is saying to us. Just like we should be quick to listen to the people we interact with, we should listen attentively to the Holy Spirit because He will help us discern and truly understand what the people around us are experiencing and the cause for their words and actions. He will also give us the blueprint on how to interact with them to bring about His righteousness in their lives and ours—if not immediately, in the future. Remember as God’s ambassadors we are introducing those in our schools to the kingdom of God. When we put their needs before our own, we’re being Christ-like and displaying the same attitude as Christ Jesus had.
Just like Jesus prayed for all of us, He wants us to pray for the people in our schools. Even when they get on our last nerves, really. It is when they agitate us that we need to pray for them. The Bible tells us that we should pray for our enemies. So yes, when our boss chastises us, treats us poorly for no good reason, we pray for him or her. When our students aren’t doing what they are supposed to do, when they’re not sitting in their seats, when they’re taking off their masks, instead of lashing out in anger we need to pray for them. When students are arguing and fighting in our class, instead of doing the Do Now or the class work, we need to pray for them. When our colleagues talk about us, gossip about us, we need to pray for them. We pray because there is nothing we can do to change people; only God can do that. Our prayer displays humility because we are dependent on God, not our own strength, not our own wit, not our own smarts or intellect. We’re not savvy enough to do what needs to be done, but we can rely on God who changes hearts, minds and attitudes to change the ones we are having difficulties with. Most importantly, we can depend on God to change us so that we can better reflect God to those around us. Without Him—the all-knowing, all-powerful God—we cannot handle the situation to bring about the best for the people involved. When we pray, we do not seek to look good in the eyes of the people. We pray for the good of the people in our schools and in our communities.
Althea is a public-school educator who has taught high school students for over 11 years. Her call is to validate, encourage, empower, and inspire people, especially young people, to find their true identity, live out their purpose, and reach their full potential. In addition to being a public-school educator, Althea is a licensed minister, wife, and mother.