Faith at Work
I am a middle school music teacher. I work at a school that outsiders see as a failing school with no potential. As for me, I see over 700 11-14 year olds with an incredible amount of potential: they just don’t know it yet.
With all that has been going on lately in the world, the only thing that continues to go through my mind is “This world is quickly turning negative.” Negativity seems to be the predominant message that is being portrayed on the news, from our leaders, and in simple conversations with our friends or family. If I had to put a ratio to it, I would say that it is a 15:1 ratio of negativity to positivity. To me, it is very disheartening. This same negativity is happening at my school. Much of the community is quickly giving up on an entire school.
The 2012-2013 school year started up on August 2. I was full of excitement. I got my rosters, set up my room, prepared lessons, spent time with teachers… I asked myself what I could do to change the atmosphere at my school. How could I, a music teacher, help the students I teach to see the positive and to always desire to achieve? I decided to take a different approach. I decided to make 2 signs that are visible from the outside of my room. One says “Negative Attitudes” and has an arrow that points down to the trashcan in my room. The other says “Positive Attitudes” with an arrow pointing into the band room. I wanted to create an environment of complete positivity.
During one of my classes, I had a girl tell me that she didn’t think she would be any good at music. I asked her “have you ever done calculus?” She hadn’t heard of it. I proceeded to explain it to her. I threw an example problem on the board. I solved it. She looked at me and said she had no idea what I did. I asked her to just look at the problem and think really hard about what I did. After about 30 seconds, she understood what I had done. So I put another problem on the board. She solved a calculus problem within 5 seconds as a 7th grader. I told her “You can do anything. Don’t settle for less.” The next day, I actually began teaching music lessons. She was the one who wanted to get involved in every single second of my lesson. Her attitude changed from that of “I can’t” to an attitude of “I can”.
I am not calling myself a great teacher. I am only in my 2nd semester of teaching so I have A LOT to learn. But, the simple fact that I took a second out of class time to prove to a student that she can do the things she thought she couldn’t, changed this student. I really do hope she continues this positive energy. I know I will continue to advocate a positive nature in all of my 200+ students.
I think that this is something that Jesus wanted us to do. In His moral teachings, when does He ever say to hate our enemies? When does He ever say to tell our peers that they aren’t good enough? When does Jesus ever say that any of us aren’t good enough?
I don’t need to use Jesus’ name to live the way He told us to. I don’t have to have my Bible out to preach Jesus’ moral lessons. I can do it simply through my actions, through my works. If I were to use the name of God or talk about the Bible in my classroom, I would be fired (as it is a public school). However, I can treat everyone I am around with an agape love, the love of a father. I can let those I come in contact with, through my actions, know that they mean more than this world tells them. I can let the world know, through my actions, that everyone can exceed their potential with hard work, dedication, and commitment.
These are 3 words that will hang on my wall in my classroom. We have to work hard at all times. We must be dedicated to love like Christ loves. We must be committed to living the way that we are called: to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us unconditionally.
Everyone has worth. Everyone has potential. We are not meant for failure. Success isn’t free, but we should not fuel the flame of failure, especially with the young people of the world. Maybe you are being placed in someone’s life to let them know that they have true worth and potential. Think about it.