The Coloring Book Lesson

My heart is overflowing today with a renewed sense of love, gratitude, and respect for the the 6th graders in Room 117 this year. I’m learning to find the good in the midst of struggle. Even when it seems that things won’t get any better or easier a glimmer of goodness shines through. This morning, that unexpected goodness was abounding in my classroom and I’m thankful the Lord allowed me to witness it.

I have a precious student whose life is filled with struggles of her own. She lives with a full-time nurse, feeding tubes, oxygen, and pumps and monitors constantly supporting her ability to breathe and live. In my classroom, aside from the obvious physical setbacks, she’s just like everybody else and her ability to bring out the best in kids is just unbelievable. The other kids rally around her. They want to walk around with her as she rolls from place to place throughout the campus. They want to be in her learning group and help her in any way possible. Even the most difficult kids uncover their hidden compassion and love.

Since today is Halloween, there’s no shortage of candy and delicious sweets. While everyone was passing out candy and sharing, one little girl walked over to her her desk; a bag of candy in one hand, a coloring book in the other. She handed the coloring book to the little girl and said, “Since you can’t eat the candy, I wanted you to have this. I didn’t want you to be left out today.” The little girl smiled the biggest smile as she took the coloring book, looked over at her nurse and said, “I have the best friends ever!” At that moment, my heart exploded with an overwhelming sense of respect for mankind and the fact that a 6th grader had enough compassion to recognize a need and fill it. As simple as it may be, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen everyday in public education. Kids don’t typically show love to one another and look out for the good of others if they won’t be benefited in some way.

I know that the struggles we face educating today’s kids are real and it isn’t getting any easier. Year after year it seems that the conditions beyond my control that plague our kids (i.e. lack of parental involvement, poverty, discipline, etc.) become huge factors in a child’s education not only academically, but socially. I live in a world where as hard as I try to teach kids to read and write, I’m putting forth just as much effort teaching them to be good citizens and care about others. I desperately want Room 117 to be a place where kids feel at home, safe, and loved. I want them to know they’re cared for here by a teacher that wants them to be good students and good people. So, on one of the craziest days of the school year, my world stood still for just a moment so that my heart could smile and we could all be taught a valuable lesson. That coloring book instantly became a gift valued more than any piece of candy in the world. I think God smiled on Room 117 today and I’m thankful I was there to see it.

“You can take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happiness.” -Brad Garrett

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