“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (Bible, New Living Translation)
As last minute vacations are squeezed into final days of summer breaks, and thoughts begin to drift toward preparations for a new school year, I’m reminded of many first days of school. I’ll never forget the excitement of being an elementary school student — wondering who my teacher would be and hoping that he or she would like me. After all, everyone wants to be treated with kindness.
Many years later I would be overwhelmed with excitement each August as I prepared for a classroom full of new students. Like so many other classroom teachers, I would spend many days setting up the classroom, and planning lessons and activities that would both delight my students and prepare them for lifelong learning. Most importantly, I wanted to be sure my students felt loved, respected and valued.
Students of all ages want to know that they are appreciated as individuals, and that their ideas are valued. In fact, it isn’t just students who want those things — don’t we all? Teachers are very aware of the burden they have to orchestrate in a classroom where everyone learns and all children feel welcome and safe, but they also want to be respected by students, parents and administrators. Parents need to know that their precious children will be cared for and provided the best education available, but they also need to know that they are considered important to the education process.
I used to have a sign in my fifth-grade classroom. It said, “Mutual Respect Practiced Here.” Perhaps this is a good reminder for us all as many of us approach a new school year. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus gives us what many refer to as the Golden Rule. Notice that he didn’t give this “rule” in a negative way, but chose to state it in a positive way. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you...” If each of us determines to focus on treating everyone — fellow students, teachers, administrators, and parents the way we would like to be treated, all of the other things that come together to make a successful academic year will fall into place.
As a new academic year emerges from the freedoms of summer breaks, let us take time in our homes to talk about the importance of loving, respecting and valuing everyone we encounter. Can you imagine the school where everyone is lavishing love and respect on each other daily?