He is that one student you feel you can’t reach. He doesn’t want to participate. He thinks no one likes him. You suspect things are difficult in his personal life and he does not seem to realize his own value. He is a lost boy. He has burned through most of his second chances and some seem ready to give up on him. I can’t.
When I was middle school age, I had a teacher who recognized that I was lost. He reached out to me and saw past my sadness. He changed my life. I also had a kind guidance counselor that showed me gentleness and understanding. They didn’t give up on me, so I can’t let go of the hope I have for my student.
It worries me to see someone so young give up on their future, so I am trying to think outside the box. If you are struggling with a student like mine, here are some ideas:
Pray…really pray for that child. Offer small inconveniences for them, make a holy hour or go to an extra Mass for them.
Greet them as if they were the person you most desired to see that day. Often the people who act the least love able are most in need of love.
Consider the surroundings, perhaps the student needs to sit closer to the front of the class; are there smells or sounds distracting the student that need to be reduced or eliminated.
Explore other ways to present the same information. Are there board games or online games that can convey the lessons for that week? Is the student particularly tactile? Would making posters or clay models be an effective way to teach this child? Can movies or songs aid in teaching your student?
Our Faith teaches that EVERY person has dignity and each life is sacred. I know, dear Catechists, that you live by this daily, but we are all human and we struggle with other humans! We need to pray for each other and for ourselves to have the grace to deal with challenging students. God bless you.