I VIVIDLY REMEMBER the day when my principal asked me to meet the parents of a new student who was going to be placed in my kindergarten classroom the next day. Even though we were already several months into the new school year, I added the appointment to my calendar without a second thought.
Once I had finished teaching for the day, I took my seat in the office. After introducing me to the student’s parents, the principal handed me a file with several pages of anecdotal records from previous schools. After briefly looking it over, I learned that although Tyler (not the actual name of the student) was only six years old, he had already been asked to leave two preschools and one elementary school because of his excessive and aggressive outbursts that had caused minor injuries to other students as well as teachers. My confidence began to wane.
Then, Tyler’s mother informed me that he had broken her arm earlier that year when he pushed her against a wall during an angry outburst. My heart skipped a beat as I processed this information. I appreciated the parent’s decision to be upfront about their child’s history. However, fear and doubt began to take hold in my heart as I thought about Tyler joining my classroom.
Although I had demonstrated success with student behavior issues in the past, this was uncharted territory for me. I had worked hard the past few months to establish routines, build relationships, and set up behavior expectations for my students. My classroom procedures had created a positive academic environment, and I didn’t want a troubled student to disrupt the learning of my other students.
So, I went home and prayed that night, asking God to help both Tyler and me. I hoped my presence in his life along with my heartfelt prayers would change things for this young boy.
On Tyler’s first day in my class, he was calm. I was thrilled that my prayer had been answered. However, that peace did not last. The next day, I noticed some agitation. By the third day, I saw the heart of a very troubled child. Tyler would appear to be fine at the start of the school day, but the smallest disturbance to his routine or negative interaction with another child caused an immediate change in his personality.
By the end of his first week in my classroom, Tyler experienced a fit of rage that warranted administrative assistance. I worked closely with our behavioral specialists to set up a rewards-based plan (among other things), but all of our best efforts rarely resulted in the desired behavioral outcomes set for Tyler.
One day, he stormed out of my classroom in anger and ran uncontrollably up and down the hall. When two adults had to work together to subdue Tyler due to his unexpected strength, I realized I was facing an unprecedented challenge and needed spiritual reinforcements.
Since my husband is a mature Christian respected for his sense of discernment, I asked for his advice. After much conversation and prayer, we felt that the trauma Tyler suffered as a young child had opened the door to a demonic spirit that, when agitated, became aggressive, uncontrollable, and very strong.
I needed God’s help.
First, I went to the Lord in prayer and spent time reading my Bible. I read in Ephesians 6 that God has given me spiritual armor to defend myself against “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms” (vs 11-12, NIV). I also looked to Paul’s example. When he recognized a demonic spirit in a person, he did not cower in fear. Instead, he boldly invoked the name, blood, and authority of Jesus (Acts 16).
But before I could declare authority over the demonic spirit, I had to ask the Lord to deal with the fear that had begun to take root in my heart. So, my husband and I prayed for boldness and protection from this demonic spirit. The Lord filled me with His peace and strengthened my heart until I was ready to come up with a school-appropriate plan. Even though I could not openly pray with this student in class, the battle with this demonic spirit still required boldness within the boundaries of my role as a public school educator.
Keeping this in mind, I stood behind Tyler each day as my students said the “Pledge of Allegiance” and observed a moment of silence. I lightly touched his back and under my breath declared to the demonic spirit, “In the name of Jesus, I have authority over you. You have no power over my student or my classroom!”
Despite this daily declaration, there were moments when I could see Tyler was building up to an explosion. I would have to, once again, discreetly declare the authority I have in Jesus.
In addition to taking my God-given authority over the demonic spirit, I had to be even more intentional about welcoming the presence of the Holy Spirit into my classroom. So, I played Christian music, prayed over Tyler’s desk each morning before class started, and equipped myself daily with the armor of God.
After I applied these strategies, Tyler never injured anyone nor did he have to be physically controlled by additional adults while in my classroom. Graciously, these practices protected my students and me until Tyler was placed in a more fitting educational environment to meet his specific needs.
As I prepared for spiritual battle each day throughout this challenging time, my relationship with the Lord grew much stronger. I was blessed to witness the power of His presence render demonic strongholds powerless every day that this young boy was in my classroom. Beyond that, God also revealed to me the importance of being ready for the spiritual battles (even those I don’t recognize) that are constantly taking place all around me. Now, I prioritize putting on the armor of God and inviting Him into my classroom every day, confidently believing in the power of His presence.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:13-17
Michelle Keso’s career includes educating children, young adults, and teachers. She is an assistant adjunct professor for the College of Education at Grand Canyon University. Her heart is to encourage educators to invest in strong relationships and instructional practices to promote a passion for learning in their students.
Like what you’re reading? Then don’t miss an issue. Subscribe to be notified when the next issue is published.