A teacher recently shared her frustration with me about some of her toughest students. Not the trouble-makers or the smart-alecks or the lazy – her heart grieves for the walled-in students, the students she could never reach because of the rock-hard barriers between them and the rest of the world. She relentlessly chips away at their hearts, but they leave her classroom and life with barely a scratch in the stone. It is one of the truest heart cries of an educator I have ever heard.
By nature, we educators find the greatest satisfaction when we open our students’ eyes. Sometimes, they see a concept for the first time. Sometimes, they see the next step, and sometimes, they catch a glimpse of their own potential. These are the moments we live for, but unfortunately, some of our students are so walled-in that they cannot see beyond their circumstances, hurts, or limitations. The stones have piled so deep and so high that they cannot imagine anything outside. We pour ourselves into their lives, but nothing ever emerges from their deep, lonely silos.
But we should never underestimate the power of little seeds.
Every word . . . every act of kindness . . . every reassuring glance . . . and every lesson of wisdom are all seeds educators have planted in and around the walls of such students. Some of these seeds bounced off the rocks, and some were snapped up by passing birds. Others sprouted for brief moments only to die quickly. Most of the seeds, however, disappeared. Whether lost in the wind or in the dark crags of their protective walls, these seeds seem to have been in vain, and their silos seem to grow taller and thicker before our eyes.
But that is the beauty of seeds.
Hidden, lost, or forgotten seeds can always sprout, and they grow in the most unexpected places. Good soil is not always defined by its location or quantity, but we can be sure that seeds will find such soil, whether it be at the base of a stone wall or in a tiny crevice high above. Even the seeds that have fallen deep inside the silo can sprout under the right conditions, so they wait, sometimes for decades, until a sliver of light and a few drops of moisture resurrect them.
These are the seeds planted by educators, and they can be the most powerful.
They sprout unexpectedly and inconspicuously, worming their way among the smaller stones, loosening them just a bit as they establish footholds. They are small but persistent, ever creeping along the cracks, wriggling into the tiniest spaces. Each growing season, they reach farther into the cracks of these students’ lives. As they do, the branches and shoots grow thicker and thicker with a force that can separate even the heaviest rocks. And then one day, a rock tumbles from the wall, creating a fissure that allows a blade of sunlight inside the student’s heart.
Humankind can construct barriers that stop armies and every force of nature, but no one has yet built any structure that can withstand the power of tiny seeds. The seeds educators scatter across the hearts of students may lay dormant for years or decades, but their potential to change students’ lives never diminishes. Educators are sowers of seeds. They sow these seeds indiscriminately, never judging the soil, only trusting in the power of the seeds.
As educators, we never truly know which soil will ultimately produce fruit; we are simply called to sow the seeds. Some of them are tiny and lay dormant for years, but they are nonetheless powerful! We could not sow these seeds, however, without your support of Lawton Public Schools. Thank you for that, Lawton-Fort Sill, and may you share in their harvest.
Adapted from a devotional, for more articles by Tom, visit tomdeighan.com