During the first week of school two years ago I overheard this comment: "My sister says that if she (referring to me) gives me any ****, she will come in and **** her!"
If those "terms of endearment" were any indication, I was in for an interesting year!
Relationships require forgiveness.
All my attempts failed, at least with Sarah and company.
Relationships require patience.
One of my best assets in the classroom is patience. I believe that I am good at being patient, offering second, third, fourth (and more) opportunities. Each day I try to make a new roadway to a relationship, not compromising classroom procedures or expectations, but communicating the value of each student. By faith, I extend trust and care.
Relationships require determination.
That year I was continually rebuffed and often maligned. My best intentions were questioned and scorned. I have to admit, I felt defeated. I can usually win kids over in 180 days. Not this year, apparently...
Sometimes relationships are "one-way only".
Two years later, Sarah is in my class again. I begin the process again, but this year it is easier. She smiles and laughs, not maliciously. We work together each day, and Sarah demonstrates great growth: she socializes with others, works hard, is respectful in her conversation. Sarah has her moments, but they no longer define her.
Relationships require time.
In class one day, I was relating a story. In typical Sarah fashion, she interrupted with a loud comment,
"Why are you so calm?
Do you think it's because...?"
Sarah had noticed. I had managed to make an impact. It just took time to nurture.
Too often, I think, we give up on our students. If they "burn bridges" too many times, we deem them "incorrigible" or unworthy of our efforts.
We cannot give up!
Our belief in that student may be the one thing that affects him/her later.
Sometimes, we have to let relationships be one-way. Sometimes we have to be content to give and not receive in return. Sometimes we have to end with a "Loss".