Education has many acronyms such as ELL, ADHD, ESSA, and CCSS (English Language Learner, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core State Standards). Here is a new acronym, and one that should apply to all of us, in the field of education or not.
The acronym is EGR. Is this a learning condition? A behavior type? Some new test?
EGR means Extra Grace Required. I attended a workshop on EGR children, and learned about these students who need extra grace from the teacher and classmates. I gained tips and ideas to help teachers relate to EGR children and know how to help and motivate them.
You may be picturing someone right now who is EGR. Perhaps it’s a child who talks all the time, doesn’t sit still, gets into things, has difficulty listening, or is mean to other children. One of my students was EGR when I heard “You’re the stupidest teacher ever.” It did not bother me, as I considered his other issues, and knew that he was just mad at that time. Another day he said, “I can’t wait till I get out of this class.” I don’t remember what precipitated either comment, but I had probably required him to do his work or to be quiet and he didn’t like it.
So what do you do with an EGR child?
I chose to forgive that child’s comments, knowing he didn’t really mean it. We went over his speech and behavior later, after he was calm. I prayed with him, the principal talked with him, we addressed attitudes, he made a list of appropriate behaviors, and we came up with ideas of good things to do.
We must learn to accept EGR children. They cannot be shunned. We must learn how to deal with them and teach the other children to be accepting of EGR children and to extend grace to them. Children should never be made fun of or excluded. I have appreciated when children go to an EGR child and purposely greet them or ask them to play. I have also felt hurt to see an EGR child mocked.
Perhaps you know an adult who is EGR! The label is not limited to children. How can we extend grace to adults?
Grace may mean listening to someone, including someone in your conversation, or sitting next to them at a gathering. I admired a woman who would look around after church and purposely go to people who were not talking to anyone and engage them in conversation. Some people will not initiate conversation because they are discouraged, sad or lonely. They need to have grace extended to them. Some people are prickly and need grace as you smile at them or try to start a conversation, knowing that the prickles are not about you, but that this is someone who needs extra grace.
Showing mercy, kindness, and compassion are ways of extending grace. Grace may be a smile, a note, an email, or an invitation such as “Sit by me.” A young girl at church has extended grace to me different times – once by sitting with me at a potluck meal when I was alone and everyone else was in family groups. Grace was given to me by a school mom who left two meals for me after I’d been traveling, and by two teacher friends who called to welcome me back home.
Purpose to look for ways to extend grace and share God’s love and compassion with the EGR people in your life.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt