It’s the end of another semester and usually today is the day that I say my goodbyes to my awesome students, clean up my office, walk the hallway from my office to the elevator happy that all I have left is to finalize grades, and exhale as I feel happy (and tired) to have completed another great semester. This year, it’s a bit different to say the least.
One of the assignments I have had all of my classes do are reflection papers. Aside from the primary benefit of them demonstrating they understand the material, a residual effect of this assignment is that it enables me to see my students as human beings, especially given that I can’t see them face to face.
When I say that my students are carrying stuff none of us were ever meant to carry, I am speaking 100% truth. They are struggling. Not all of them, but enough. And the thing that they’re lacking simply put is empathy.
This got me thinking…why is it so difficult for us to demonstrate empathy to one another when all of us require that for ourselves? In other words, we want it, but we don’t give it.
Empathy allows me to see my students as people, who just like, you and me, have daily struggles. My hope and my prayer are that we can start to see each other as human again. What we want to receive, we often have to give. And here’s a little secret—empathy is a free gift.
My students know I’m pretty strict about certain things—maintaining respect at all times, read your syllabus, no late assignments, read your syllabus, be responsible, and oh, don’t forget, read your syllabus!!! 🙂 However, they also know they can trust what I say and that I do my best to be as understanding as possible.
I don’t think these are exempt to just the classroom. If we want empathy, we have to give it. If we want trust, we have to be trustworthy, and if we want to be understood, we should demonstrate understanding. Are you giving out what you want to receive?
As my students prepare for their final exams, I truly wish them the best in navigating this new normal. Most of us don’t know when we’ll be back in an actual classroom and life seems to keep just throwing more challenges our way. Yet in the meantime, I encourage us all to remember that we’re ALL dealing with something and the best gift we can give, is what we want to receive.
“Give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together, to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 NLT