3 Emotions Every Student Brings to School

Prepare to be uplifted and encouraged for I am about to reveal the three emotions every student is feeling at any given moment! Just think how this information will allow you to support and connect with your kids!

And the three emotions every child feels every day are: (drumroll…)

fear, grief, and yearning.

What? Not what you were hoping for? I know, it’s a real knee to the nuts! How encouraged are we feeling now?

On the surface these three appear to be paralyzing, debilitating. When actually fear, grief, and yearning are our formula for moving forward and growing. Let’s take a moment to recognize the truth in this.

I’m no psychologist, so I’ll first allow you to validate the three emotions in yourselves.

Find These Three In You

Fear: Simply think of your goals. Now reflect on the reasons they haven’t been met. You’ll probably find fear being a major culprit. Fear’s job is to protect us from any suffering, pain, or distress. Too often Fear works overtime and pummels us into a submission of worry.

Grief: Reflect on your personal well of loss. You can dig up the heavy sludge of deep sorrow related to family brokenness or death. Yet still, you can find grief in the day-to-day annoyances or troubles where a personal privilege or joy has been taken away.

Yearning: I hope you can find a longing for something inside you because this is the only emotion of the three with a touch of positive connotation. How is your yearnings connected to the grief and fear you’ve experienced? Closely, I’d guess.

We first must recognize fear, grief, and yearning in ourselves and others before we suddenly have a moment like this:

-Is this similar to exchanges you’ve had with students?

What’s a Teacher to Do?

  1. Recognize the emotion and develop an awareness of the overwhelming sources for their emotions. Compassion will ensue. You will like your students so much more when you identify the three roots of their behaviors.
  2. Offer mercy and grace because the child is experiencing fear, grief, and yearning.

Teaching’s a daunting task, breathing intimidation in every moment. But when we recognize the fears, griefs, and yearnings in every child the intimidation is suffocated. You have great reason to be compassionate, merciful, and a giver of grace. It’s not easy, but it is worth it!


Stay tuned or subscribe because there’ll be posts to come focused on each of these three emotions!

Find Productivity in Serving Others, Not a To-Do List

As you well know, for me writing is my process of discernment. Here is the current battle.

How do I knock away at my to-do list while still giving others the attention and service God calls me to?

I’m a Slow Learner

I first wrote this question down a few weeks ago. Now I see the answer lies in the question. If my to-do list revolves around me and doesn’t exist to serve others, then I am not being productive. Lately I’ve been struggling to find the time to fulfill my hobbies. The problem is that each of my hobbies are self-serving and done in isolation. I believe these hobbies do contribute to my happiness and well being but I’m realizing they may be carrying too much priority.

My first awareness to this whole productivity vs. service issue came in the classroom. Am I existing as a teacher to work through a set curriculum or am I conscientiously serving the students in attention to their individualized needs? I’ve been searching for a clear cut answer but I’ve only discovered more questions. (This is another testament to why I believe there’s power in inquiry-based learning).

Questions like: Do I sit here and continue refining my lesson or go assist a coworker who I know is in need? Should I stop to talk to the student in obvious frustration or push through with my whole class instruction.    

The questions don’t stop there, it appears that every single situation and decision could become a conflict between productivity and service. I’ve finally discovered this doesn’t have to be the case. The two can smoothly meld together!

See Service in Every Task

I have written down on a notecard, “How is this serving others?” I’ll be keeping that card in my pocket daily until it disintegrates into a lint ball or to the point when I don’t remember why there is a notecard in my pocket. This card will give me a tangible reminder in my daily actions to intentionally spend my time fulfilling tasks that serve. It will also give purpose to the tasks that might be mundane but at the root serve.  

In the posture of service I give students valuable feedback when I’m grading instead of simply putting a grade. In this posture I’m motivated to pack my son’s lunch instead of leaving it for my wife. I’m a better person to converse with. Instead of numbering my to-do list in my mind while you talk at me, I’m engaged and invested in the exchange. When I do need that me-time hobby, I’m trying to do it in time that doesn’t take away from others. Like writing this blogpost at 5:00am the last two days. Moreover, my wife and son are pleased that I chose the quiet hobby of writing instead of using power tools for woodworking in the basement at 5:00am. So you could say I’m even serving my family while they sleep!

I can’t believe it took me several weeks for me to begin to attack my issue of productivity versus service. This also proves the importance of journaling and coming back to previous ideas. But that is another post for another day.


If you are serving someone you are being productive!


“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” -Henry David Thoreau


Posts like this:

“Data vs. Story” The Debate is Everywhere

Why My Class Will Not Be Effecient

Sensitivity Extremes: Connecting with the Whole Spectrum

A Common Scenario

One child has arms crossed while he shouts back short defensive remarks. The other is wailing with huge tears flooding his cheeks. Fingers are being pointed while other students arrive to back their chosen party. Both of the initial kids are offended, past the point of reason, and a long way from a solution.


Part of the reason I love teaching is the unique dynamics found in each class. (I often need to remind myself that this is a good thing.)

This year is no different. This group carries with it a wide range on the sensitivity spectrum. I’ve witnessed moments of oversensitivity opening an onslaught of tears. There’s also been the impulsive stance of insensitivity. How does one even relate to both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between? How do we connect and meet the needs of every individual? Especially when a student’s needs and sensitivity could change from one week to the next. (This definitely happens in sixth grade!)


So my choices are:

  1. I can authoritatively shut down the situation without connecting with either child involved.
  2. I can affirm each child’s stance and emotions. Sort and set apart the truth in the scenario from the presumptions and misconceptions.

One of these takes listening, patience, and a balance of sensitivity and reason.

Why It’s Not That Easy

The first understanding I had to reach before affectively approaching this issue was that No One desires either extreme. No One wants to be overly sensitive or insensitive. Of course I’m never reminded of these important revelations in the moment, this reflection happened days after while cutting the grass on a Saturday. Another reason I should cut the grass more.

I then began to consider, “What causes one to be on either extreme of this sensitivity spectrum?” There has to be a cause to one bawling due to a peer’s single spoken word. Or why one wouldn’t anticipate the effects of his/her insensitive actions. I wrongly started speculating causes to be factors such as homelife, unhealthy relationships, poor self-image, and so on.

Then I looked inward.

The second realization of the matter came a day after cutting the grass. This type of reflection doesn’t happen quickly for me but thanks to God it did happen.

My mind reeled in my personal bouts of oversensitivity. Then the insensitive moments came rushing to my recognition.

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Proverbs 27:19

Wait, I’m broken too. I embody both extremes of this spectrum? Yes, and so do you. This is the reality of being human…

Insensitivity equals a lack of grace

Oversensitivity grows from needing the approval of others, or validation of self.

Both ends of the spectrum is a result of one attempting to please their own flesh.

I must be a better model of selflessness and servanthood for my students. “Is my response pleasing my flesh or pleasing the Spirit?” A questions I can’t ask myself enough.

Galatians 6: 7-8


Why My Class Will Not Be Efficient

What a disservice it would be…To bring together 25 uniquely made children, each boasting uncommon experiences, uncontainable interests, various upbringings, and then disregard all of that for the teacher’s pompous plan.


Would you rather have your child become a creator or a cog? A cog is formed to fit into one specific spot and maintain one duty. That gear may look nice and shiny on the outside with its refined skill-set, but it performs limited functions. A creator is surely interactive, artistic, and dynamic. The needed environment for developing these two would be quite different.


The making of a cog:

One must be told where to go and what to do requiring strict training and redundancy. A controlled environment removed from all variables. Very efficient!



The making of a creator:

A creator must draw deep understanding of herself and the world around her from authentic experiences. The creator engages and explores available resources and surroundings.
I hope the image on the right displays the characteristics of my classroom community this year. (Which of the two pictured neighborhoods would you rather visit?)

Jon Acuff suggests that relationships are not designed to be efficient but instead messy. I struggle with this since I’m working towards being a more relational teacher to my students. But again I think this boils down to our personal intentions. If my intention is to deliver as much content as possible to my students then I must forfeit in the area of relationship. If my intent is to stand with my students through support, encouragement, and authentic interactions then I’m going to have to concede strict control over the specifics of student learning.

Many teachers have the syllabus structured and set no matter what kid walks in the door. These teachers embrace efficiency while neglecting creativity and student autonomy.
Without knowing the future world our youth will grow up in, I think a focus on social-emotional development will serve them better than a strict academic agenda. It will also give them the tools to better navigate their learning as young adults and in their eventual professions.


I will take depth and vulnerability over efficiency. This philosophy will grow life-long learners much more than the teacher that covers a large quantity of content on the surface, which obviously lacks genuine engagement.  Which results in a healthier person?
Here’s too a “messy” year!

See also: “How to Avoid a Shallow Education”
Ryan Hershey see my blog at