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How Do You Make Connections?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on September 11, 2012
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are you connected? How many people will you connect with today? In the “good ol’ days” connecting meant you had someone’s phone number and you actually heard their voice when you called. Or you used “snail mail” and sent a card or letter. Nowadays in addition to phone numbers, you probably have email contacts, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, blog followers, and any number of additional networks to keep in contact with others.

I blog, – both here and for my school district – post, tweet, email, text, call, and teach, so I’m probably in contact with hundreds of people every day. But do I make a connection? Sometimes I think I do, but other times, not so much. Is anything I say touching peoples’ lives? Do I cause anyone to smile, frown, cry, or take action?

I always strive to build relationships with my students at the beginning of the year. It’s easy with some, but others are a little more of a struggle. Usually if there’s conflict, it’s because my expectations are fairly rigorous, and I have very low tolerance for laziness. Inferior work is fine if it’s the best a student can produce. My job is to make what they produce better, but they have to do their part.

Last week, the first week of school, I could already identify a few students who might test my patience a bit. A few hostile glances and rude remarks uttered under their breath keyed me into the potential conflicts. (I’m quick like that…those signals clued me right in!)

I decided after the weekend, we needed a fresh start. I walked up the hall with one boy, acknowledging that we’d started off on rocky ground. Last week, I had shown anger when he wouldn’t quit talking and get to work. He showed annoyance when I tried to get him to focus. My ire escalated when he was rude and disrespectful. His irritation erupted when I made him move to a different seat.

As we walked together yesterday, I told him I didn’t want our year to be filled with animosity. It would be nice if we could work toward the common goal of him having a successful year in 8th grade. I stopped outside the doors to the media center, but he opened the door and began entering while I was still speaking to him. I asked him to please shut the door until our conversation was over. He rolled his eyes, kept his hand in the partially closed door, and refused to look at me. Talk about feeling my blood boil.

Our discussion apparently wasn’t working, so I bluntly asked, “Do you want to have a year filled with conflict in my class?” He shrugged, sauntered and swaggered around for a few seconds, then looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t really care.”

So much for making a connection. I guess this one is going to take a lot more effort. That’s alright though. I told all my students at the beginning of the year if I’m hard on them, it means I care. Once I leave them alone, that’s when they need to worry because it means I’ve given up on them.

What they don’t understand is I don’t give up on any of them; I’ll keep pushing and I pray they’ll quit pushing back and begin moving forward at some point.

I guess this might be how God feels about us. He wants to make a connection with us, but sometimes we aren’t interested. He’s not going to give up on us, and He’s certainly not going away. Making a connection with Him should surpass anything else we can achieve. We just have to do our part.

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4 Responses to 'How Do You Make Connections?'

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  1. That is the key to making connections, it has to be a two-way connection or there really is no connection as in the case of this boy in your classroom. I am confident God will give you grace pressed down and poured out during this school year.
    Thanks for the great reminder.


    • Thanks, Elaine. So far it seems it might be challenging, but I’m sure He will help me through it! Thanks for the comment and tweet!


  2. Praying for much grace and persistence for you, Linden, and for God’s work in this student’s heart. You’re so right, God doesn’t give up on us, and I wonder how many people have let this boy’s attitude stop their efforts. Somebody needs to keep on pressing on to reach him.


    • Thanks for the encouragement, Janet! I need it! 🙂


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