Recently, while visiting my daughter, I started watching HGTV home remodeling shows. Watching homes transform from ugly to beautiful is inspiring. This evening, I took a break to watch Fixer Upper (my favorite of the house shows) after my brain could no longer focus on my work. In each episode, Chip and Joanna Gaines show prospective home buyers 3 homes that are fixer uppers at various levels of disrepair. Joanna gives the vision of what could be in each house, helping the buyers look past what is, to what could be. Then, once the home buyers make a decision, Chip and Joanna use the home buyers’ remaining budget to remodel the home.
As I watched two shows tonight, in both instances, the home buyers chose the most dilapidated old houses. Joanna was so excited. She kept saying, “I just love this house!” The houses looked like they should be torn down, similar to the old house in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Something unexpected always happens as they begin to tear out walls – leaky pipes, mold, rotting wood, old wiring, etc. Undeterred, each challenge is met with both realistic acceptance of the situation and creative ways to resolve it, while still maintaining the integrity of their transforming plan. The transformations for both homes were amazing, and always within budget. As I heard Joanna say once again, “I just love this house!” it made me think of my teachers and students.
Students come in all shapes and sizes, at various levels of academic success, with varying personalities, talents, and struggles. Some students are easy, some are more difficult, and a few can really challenge the teacher’s bag of tricks and the depths of her love and patience. They have a lot of “character” but it’s hard to see past the “junk” of their challenges. Sometimes, just when we think we are making headway, new problems arise that impede progress. It can be discouraging! It takes a special person, one who sees what everyone else is missing, to see the potential and beauty in that challenging student.
I have wonderful teachers at my school! In the next few days, I will be finalizing the class placement for the coming year. I don’t know how other schools do it, but I take a lot of time, read input from teachers and parents, and prayerfully consider the placement of every student. My prayer is that each student would be with classmates and a teacher that is the right match for them. I will admit I take a little extra time for those few students that we find challenging; I work extra hard to ensure they have a teacher that will see past the difficulties and hard work to the finished product, someone who will love the student and welcome the challenge to bring that student to their full potential. I know I am successful when I hear “I just love this student!”