For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12, NIV

I have a confession. As a veteran teacher who started my career in 1990, I am territorial over my students and believe that I always know what is best for them. I don’t share them well with others even though I logically recognize that specialized staff members have expertise beyond my own that is beneficial for my students’ varying needs.

Am I the only teacher who falls into this sin? If not, you might also benefit from hearing my daughter’s perspective.

My twenty-six-year-old daughter is a behavior specialist for two elementary schools that serve many at-risk students. She serves children who are victims of various types of abuse, laden with poverty, living in the foster system, and struggling with physical issues from in-utero substance use. In her schools, she runs the risk of being punched, kicked, pinched, scratched, head-butted, and verbally accosted daily. She faces all of these situations so that teachers do not have to keep children with extreme behavior issues inside their classrooms.

She has shared her stories and cried many times because she is not welcome or trusted in some teachers’ rooms. Yet, she still takes on these challenging kids and the associated risks so that the teachers and their remaining students can have a more conducive classroom environment. She feels hopeless many days and can only rely on God’s provision to get her through the hours, sometimes minutes.

Her stories make me sad and they convict me. Listening to her made me aware of how I have treated the non-teaching professionals in my district at times, causing me to repent. I have been wrong, and I am so sorry.

If you feel convicted as well, I encourage you to join me in recognizing the specialists who are doing their best in very difficult environments. Please extend grace to them. You might even share a verbal or written message of gratitude. Regardless of where we land on the continuum of accepting other adults into our classes, we can improve and experience joy from encouraging each other and sharing school burdens and successes.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the voices around us that convict and improve us. Forgive us when we have not been open to all of the people You bring together to serve Your children. Help us support the specialized staff members in our schools. Search our hearts and help us pray earnestly for these colleagues. Amen. 

Copyright Lori Vandeventer.

Lori Vandeventer is a member and a corporation librarian/dual-credit English teacher from Indiana.

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