By Lorna Seadore, NELA 1st-2nd Grade Teacher
The beginning of the school year brought an unexpected challenge. We had a student with volatile behavior that would often include hitting, slapping, or kicking other students. We struggled with how to help as these behaviors seemed to come out of nowhere. It reached a point where students felt unsafe in the classroom, which was very hard for me. One day, our class was in P.E. and Ms. Mendoza saw this student going towards one of the kindergarten students to hit him. She intervened and moved him away from the group, but he was screaming and crying out of frustration.
Isaiah, a second grader, went to another teacher and told her, “God is telling me that I need to go and pray for him.” She asked him to repeat himself because she wasn’t sure she had heard right, then told him he needed to ask Ms. Mendoza first. Ms. Mendoza was concerned for his safety so told him that it would be ok to pray for him from right there. He boldly said, “No, God told me I need to go over and put my hand on him and pray for him,” so he walked over to the upset student. He placed his hand on his shoulder and proceeded to pray. Surprisingly, the student seemed to calm down with his touch and prayer. In the past he needed space to calm down and did not want to receive touch from anyone.
When I heard about this story, I was reminded that prayer should often be our first line of defense. As adults, we are so busy trying to come up with problem solving solutions, but this child heard God’s still small voice and boldly acted. He was acting as a servant leader. He saw what was going on and didn’t stop there. He chose to act to help in the situation. We have been teaching our students about heart and soul in servant leadership this year. Heart is what we feel about something. Soul asks, “now what?” Isaiah felt for the upset student in this situation, as I’m sure many of the other students in the room felt that day, but he chose to go beyond heart to soul. He said, “now what?” He chose to act and respond out of his feelings.
Eventually this student ended up going back to his old school where he had been provided a one-on-one aide, allowing him to feel more comfortable and to learn to his full potential. Even with all the difficulties, my students were sad to hear that he would not be part of our classroom. We decided to write cards to him to let him know we were still thinking of him. Many of the cards said things like, “I love you,” “I hope you are liking your old school,” “We miss you,” “I hope you are happy.” It meant so much to see my students living out servant leadership through heart and soul. Not stopping at a feeling in our heart, but asking “now what?” I hope you will be challenged to do the same.