In my earliest days as a classroom teacher, I adopted some retro Point Of Grace lyrics as my daily mantra. I was driven by the words and the catchy little tune from my childhood as I focused on the second graders that I’d been entrusted with. I kid you not. I would facilitate learning experiences and monitor independent practice while mentally reciting the lyrics to that peppy little diddy.
Without the love of Jesus, the stars wouldn’t shine. Rivers wouldn’t run and hearts beat out of time. Without the love of Jesus, tell me, where would we be? Lost on a lonely sea, without the love of Jesus.”
Those words focused my heart on the enormity of the task before me.
Teachers, your calling is great. Perhaps greater than the noble and irreplaceable profession of teaching standards is the equally essential calling to teach children to love others. Your calling may even be to teach a child that she is valued and loved. Your purpose this year may be to provide a safe place and nurturing environment for a child in the security of a welcoming classroom this school year. As an educator, you have the capacity to transform childhoods. That, my friend, makes you a world changer.
It is God who creates each life. It is God who, in His sovereign power, placed each student in your care for such a time as this. Everytime you provide morning snacks or breakfast for a hungry tummy, you impact a valuable life. Every time you supply cold hands with mittens, you are nurturing a valuable life. When you replace regular morning work with daily practice for a life skill such as brushing teeth or tying shoes, you are filling a gap in a valuable life. When you take the time to write additional positive or constructive feedback on an assignment, you are giving hope to a valuable life full of potential. When you give away chapter books from your own stash of childhood favorites on the sacred “teacher’s bookshelf”, you are modeling a spirit of generosity. When you join your students in the cafeteria for lunchtime, you simultaneously have the opportunity to teach table manners and give the gift of quality time. When you greet your students at the door with a smile and welcome them by name, you place value on each one as an individual. When you become an expert on your students’ strengths and compliment each of them in front of one another, you build self esteem and model encouragement. The homework packet for the absent child shows concern and compassion. The second chance for the offender teaches grace. The letters home, the phone calls, the extra time spent to give good reports? Kind and encouraging words can be the best medicine for an entire family. Teachers remedy a whole lot of hurt with compassionate words.
I began my teaching career in a Second Grade classroom in August 2008. Ever since, my keychain has served as a reminder of the importance of good educators and more importantly of the One who loved us first. The little green apple on my key ring reads, “Teach Like Jesus.” Jesus. His lessons have always been those of grace, forgiveness, truth, wisdom, love for the Father, and love for one another.
Sweet teacher friends, your curriculum binders are full of charts and maps of grade level expectations, state standards, and benchmarks to cover this year. You will carefully fill lesson plan books weekly no matter your content area or grade level. This will be work. Elementary school teachers will teach somewhere near seven subjects a day, complete with five different lessons each week per seven subjects. Yes, you’ll plan approximately 35 lessons each week. You teach reading or math in differentiated groups? You’ll plan another five lessons each day to instruct on various academic levels. You do this seamlessly. You were trained for this very thing.
By now, you’re likely an expert on multitasking and can teach to several different learning styles simultaneously by engaging different senses and appealing to various personalities all at once. This is crucial and you will nail it for sure! Sweet friends, let’s stop right here.
The lessons that will impact the lives in your care the most? Those are the lessons you teach by your example of integrity, character, and compassion for each child. You cannot plan some of the most critical moments of an education. The opportunities to live out the fruits of the Spirit will be the unexpected moments because your job? Your job is a mission field.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~Galatians 5:22-23
As you meet each little child that has been entrusted in your care, learn their names, and adopt them into your heart in that way that only a teacher can do; may you be a shining example of what God has done in your own life. May you choose to love the way He first loved us. May you teach well and teach like Jesus. Teach like Jesus. Your classroom is a mission field and God has appointed you for such a time as this. Those little lives in your care? One of them just might change our world one day. May you be the encourager of that valuable life. Be a world changer.
Happy August, precious teacher friends!
From my heart of a teacher to yours,