None of us is perfect, but when we find where we fit, our sense of purpose begins to take shape. Often the biggest problem is that we are trying to fit into the wrong place or to connect to another piece that isn'e meant for us. Some of us don't even get started making the puzzle - we are still rattling around in our boxes, afraid to see the wonder that we can help to create. We must seek to nurture our gifts and use them to their fullest. There is no one on the planet exactly like you. Each of us is a one-of-a-kind limited edition.
He thinks he is as good as he will ever be. He is satisfied that he has learned everything he can learn - that anything new is overload and impossible - and I, the teacher, am expected to work some kind of magic to get him to think differently. I wouldn't call it magic, but I would recognize that my part of the process does require some finesse.
Sadly, I don't think any teacher can honestly put that finesse, or magic, into words. It is certainly a combination of any number of people skills, teaching skills, personality, and perseverance. When Kim Bearden talks about getting students to stop rattling around in their boxes and change their fears into wonders, she is spot on...but it takes the rest of the chapters in her book (Crash Course) to achieve it. Still, I would like for her to add a chapter entitled Finesse.
For the past six years, I have changed many of the old ways I have approached education. I haven't thrown out the baby with the bathwater, but I have changed my approach in significant ways. On a number of occasions I have discovered some of that so-called magic with particular students.
One student might be defined as a thug by people who knew him, but at some point, he became the class' favorite peer. Through an arduous and painful process, riddled with stumbles, he became compassionate and selfless, and he discovered in himself a character he never knew existed.
During another year, a boy of small stature did everything he could to emulate the gang members he saw on TV, but after a heartfelt connection with a teacher who was willing to listen to him, he became interested in academic improvement.
Still another year brought a child who lived in poverty, hated women, and was generally angry. He was the boy everyone dreaded. He did not bathe regularly, and had terrible habits. When dealing with adults and peers alike, this kid would melt down completely. He slipped easily into violence and self mutilation. Yet somehow, with explicit teaching, he awakened something deep down within himself. He learned how to look people in the eyes and firmly shake their hands. He learned to call adults ma'am and sir. He learned to be slow to anger and slow to speak.
I know Mrs. Bearden is talking about awakening different kinds of talent - public speaking or singing perhaps - but for these three boys, the box that confined them was a tight one. I want my students to know that what defines them now does not have to define them in the future. The secret to such redefining is to remove confinement.
You can have an impact on others that you might not have realized simply because you are choosing to focus on things that you think you can't do instead of the things that you can do. You are enough. Forget your failures, forget your inadequacies - focus on the gifts that you do have and how you can choose to use them to the fullest. You have something to offer this world. You, my friend, are fearfully and wonderfully made.