Teaching math to 5th graders isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. And I teach 80 of them.
You’ve got this huge, diverse room full of students throughout the day. Different cultures, different learning preferences, and most importantly, they’re all on completely different learning levels! While I have a few 5th graders who are probably at a 6th grade math level, I also have students who are still on a 4th grade math level – and they all share the same classroom!
Now, I know that all of you will remember that kid in your classes. Yes, I’m talking about the know-it-all. You know, the one whose hand is flying up into the air with an answer before the teacher even finishes the question. Well, I’ve got one of those in my class this year. Let’s call him Evan.
I kid you not folks, out of the 1.5 hours this kid is in my class, his hand is in the air about 75% of the period. All I have to begin saying is, “Okay, and next I want y’all to…” and Evan’s hand is already shot up in the air, waving frantically, and his eyes are bugging out of their sockets – ready to answer the question he assumes I’m about to ask. When I give the class a problem to complete, he’s finished before half of the kids have even taken out their pencils.
Mind you, the following happens every day. After he runs up to show me his (usually correct) answer, I say something along the lines of, “That’s great! Let’s give everybody else just a few more minutes to work on this problem and then we’ll be moving on!”. Then, his shoulders will slump, he’ll throw his head back dramatically and say “But they’re taking foreeeeeeverrrrrrrr.”. To which I answer, “Well, why don’t you see if you can help some of your table mates out? Don’t give them the answer, but I bet you could explain the steps to solving this problem in a way that can help them understand it better!” Right about now, he’s shuffling his feet back to his desk, and doodles quietly around in his math journal until we move on to the next question.
The reality of the situation is that Evan has parents who are very actively involved in his education. They practice his math facts with him at home, make sure his homework is finished (and correct), and consequently, he is well-prepared by the time he comes to my class every day! There is another boy who sits at Evan’s table named Daniel, and his life is quite different. Daniel has a learning disability, so it takes him a few more minutes to process new material than his peers. He has a single mom who is constantly working to provide for her family, so he has to try to figure out his homework and math facts on his own at home.
Sometimes, I’ll look over at their table as Evan is bored and doodling in his notebook, and then over at Daniel as he’s fiddling with his glasses, trying to understand how to solve my math problem. Evan has no idea how beneficial it would be if he tried to help Daniel out with his math. Not only would Daniel hopefully be able to understand it better, but then Evan wouldn’t be “bored” in class anymore AND he would learn the material better as a result! But because he’s so insistent on being the “all-knowing student”, his ego keeps him from helping both himself and his peers.
Don’t you think this happens in our Christian walk sometimes? For those of us who grew up in the church, we KNOW what we are expected to do. We have memorized the Ten Commandments, we have a bunch of verses highlighted in our Bibles, we confess our sins and we try to do good unto others. WE KNOW IT ALL. But do we?
If we knew it all, wouldn’t we very clearly see how Jesus Christ spent His entire life helping others learn how to live a victorious, God-honoring life? Yes, one should definitely be growing in their Christian walk before trying to help others do the same, but that’s the problem – there aren’t many who want to make themselves available to help others.
It doesn’t need to be from a stage. Your name doesn’t need to be on a website. It doesn’t need to be something that is done in any sort of public format. But what about shooting a loved one a text asking what you can pray about for them? Or sending a verse to someone who needs some encouragement?
If you are successfully living a Christian life, that’s great. But take a look around and look for those who might be having a hard time, and see how you can offer a helping hand. We could all use a little “lift” sometimes in our Christian walk.
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace. | 1 Peter 4:10