Dear teachers, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, school starts back soon, or already has for some.
I know this is a mom blog, but this has really been on my heart. As the mom of an almost-2-year-old (Aggghhhh!), I feel like I’m still struggling to find the balance between work, motherhood, and wife. I still want to be the best teacher I can be, the best mom, and the best wife without sacrificing any time, or one over the other. My greatest fear is that I’ll never be the teacher I once assumed myself to be now that I’m a mom. My way this summer of handling the three has been to think about returning to school as little as possible, mostly because it didn’t fit into my schedule to do so. I’ve tried to put off the thought of returning to work for as long as possible, but 5 days is going to be here before I know it, so, uhhhhhh, it’s about time. Usually I’m itching to go back about this time, but I’m having a lot of difficulty getting into the proper mindset this year. I blame it on life happening around me. That darn thing.
I’ve been doing a lot of praying, asking God to set my heart straight. Put aside all the impending stresses, and just focus. Every school year I always pray for my upcoming students and parents, asking for protection over our time together, and asking God to prepare their hearts and minds as we get to know one another and learn together over our journey.
My biggest obstacle of looking forward to the school year is that there’s just so much negativity surrounding the teaching profession. Teachers, we are our own worst enemy. Social media is the WORST. Everyone is always posting articles about how they can’t believe the “system” is doing this-or-that. Teachers can rant and rave all day about how the “system” is failing, but I can’t help but think we are being a little bit selfish by calling ourselves a victim of “the system”. My husband is a police officer and he faces some of the same challenges. People in charge who don’t know a thing about what it means to “police”. The game of politics holds true for any profession. It’s not as if teachers are under attack specifically. There’s too much focus on the negative, rather than the true purpose behind what we do. We all say it. At the end of the day, we just love to teach. Period. I wish we could learn to focus on that. I’m not trying to say there aren’t stresses or issues that are out there, but the more we continue to focus on them the more we are feeding into our own insecurities. We are so blessed to be able to touch the lives of these children, and the system may be pulling us away from that but we just can’t let them! We are a bright light. The Lord has given us a gift to teach and we can’t forget that.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace-1 Peter 4:10.
The more we complain and grumble, we are just falling into an evil trap that satan scoffs at.
Why am I saying all of this?
I mention this because I think I fall into the negativity trap, which causes me to think I’m completely unprepared for the upcoming school year.
-The system wants me to fail
-Why are they doing this to these children?
-This isn’t fair
So many thoughts meandering in our brains, constantly. It’s never going to be perfect. There’s always piles of papers to grade, data to graph, emails to respond to, phone calls to make, trainings to attend, tests to create. But that’s just life. At home there’s laundry to be done, dishes to load, rooms to clean, homework to do, kids to feed, lunches to pack. And just when you think you’ve caught up with the laundry, you realize you haven’t washed the clothes on your back. We can’t pretend to live in some fantasy world where we’re going to eventually get caught up. It just isn’t reality.
So, what do we do? We accept the reality, we do what we can, and we lean on God. Stay with me. That last mention is the most important.
During a recent visit with a non-teacher friend, she asked me something so sweet that I’d never been asked before. “How can I pray for you as a teacher this year?” Woooooah. I was honored to be asked something so specific and, really, personal. Personal because you’re not only asking to pray for what I do, but the question spawned off into many other winding trails. Not just praying for me, but for my students, their parents, my co-workers, my admin, people in county, state, the whole (messed up) system! What a (wonderfully) loaded question!
My mind began to race. I’m sure my eyes darted all around the room. I think things probably got uncomfortable for my friend because I didn’t answer for a few seconds. Or was it a few minutes? Finally I said, “I’ll have to think about it and get back to you.”
This wasn’t a cop out answer. I genuinely wanted to give her some good points to send up to the Good Lord. Not just some thrown together haphazard prayer list that “answered” her question, just to get us moved on and talking about our latest shopping excursions.
I really had to think about this. I wanted to think about this. To have the prayer really mean something. What would I want someone to pray for me about this new school year?
I’m not saying I have the most important job in the world, but I think praying for our teachers should be pretty high on the list of careers to talk to God about. We pray for our police officers, and our military personnel, and I don’t see a reason why teachers shouldn’t be somewhere on a Top 10 List.
To the prayer warriors out there who have wondered what they can pray for when it comes to teachers, I thought it may be worthwhile to just write it out for you. Straight from a teacher, as if you were praying this directly to God. Just as I say this prayer and pray it for every teacher I know (despite being one myself), I encourage you to do the same. Fellow teachers, let’s pray this for one another. Let’s be reminded how blessed we are because we have an opportunity to bless so many other children.
We should watch what we say and how we say it. Sometimes the best statements and arguments we can make are by getting on our knees and asking God to intervene. In James chapter 3 God talks about taming the tongue. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness”. Even the Lord tells us that we are under a microscope. Maybe the best way we should conduct ourselves is to hold more professionalism, and to lean more on the Lord
Thank you for the gift of teaching. Thank you that you have helped teachers to realize their passion for children and that you’ve provided them with the tools and means to do what they love. They don’t do it for the paycheck, incentives, or gratitude, they just do it. I ask that you bless their continued efforts. For those that wish to continue their education in a related field of study, such as administration, Lord, I ask that you provide them with the financial means to do so and direct them where they would be serve you. I pray that if there are teachers who want to make a move within the school system to further their career that you would encourage them and remove any obstacles in their way. If there are teachers out there who may realize that teaching just isn’t the profession for them, God, I ask that you would protect their mind from fear of switching paths. That you would place a sign in their life to show them where and what you would have them do. Remove any obstacles and be a lamp unto their feet, without guilt or shame of switching careers. Guide them.
As school is beginning, I pray that teachers around the globe would be on their knees, calling for you. Calling out to you for guidance and support. I pray that you would hold their hand and let them know that no matter what may be before them, you are right there holding their hand. Please help them to turn away from the politics, and focus on those bright faces they are going to touch every day. Open their hearts and minds to the magnificent life changing possibilities that are before them. Allow them to see only the light, Lord, not the darkness. Place specific people before them these next few days who will also offer to pray for them. To pray with them. Help these teachers to know that they are making such a difference, that nothing else matters but those students who will soon grace them. I pray that you send at least one specific person, whether it’s an old friend or a new one, in each teacher’s life who will encourage and lift them up not just now, but throughout the entire school year. Your Word tells us that an encouraging Word can cheer a person up, so I just ask that you will continually provide that encouragement for teachers. I ask that each teacher have a positive work companion that they can turn to. It can be discouraging to be in a work environment and feel as if you don’t have another person to relate to you. I pray that you would specifically provide each teacher with someone who will be a positive impact. Someone who will work with them, hold their hand, and motivate and inspire them, rather than drag them down. And in times when a teacher may feel alone or discouraged, I ask that you engulf them with your presence to remind them that though no one may be there in flesh, you never forsake us. I pray they find comfort in you and your words.
I pray for the students who will be in their class. That no matter their past circumstances, situation, or reputation, they will enter this new school year with a fresh heart and mind, ready to embrace their new adventure. I pray for protection over each child from emotional or physical harm.I ask that each child has breakfast to eat every morning, and dinner to come home to. If this isn’t so, Lord, I pray that you would allow resources and people into that child’s home to provide the best quality of life possible. I pray that you would already begin to build a relationship between the students and teachers, even if they haven’t met yet, that there would be a kindred spirit brewing between teacher and student, so that when they meet, it is like old friends joining.
The beginning of the year can also be difficult for parents. I pray, dear God, that you would remove any stresses the parents are feeling, and help them to know that while school supplies are important, it will all get done in time. Tug on the hearts of parents to lean on you, and take time out to enjoy these last few days of summer. Please wrap your arms around those parents with multiple children, who are struggling to purchase supplies. Tug on the hearts of those who can give them assistance and can help to provide. Lord, I pray a special bond to form between parents and teachers this year, that will join school and home, in the kind of relationship that will build up each child. I pray that parents and teachers will be able to communicate with one another in a way that is compassionate, empathetic, and sympathetic, rather than accusatory and shameful or shamed, as it can sometimes be. When emotions are raging, God, I just pray that you will remind either that all the glory is in you, and that both parties should act in a manner that is pleasing to you, for the betterment of the student.
I pray for administration, that they will be thoughtful in the decision making processes, but in doing so, they will seek your Word for wisdom. I pray that will not make decisions hastily. I pray that you will strategically surround them with uplifting people, rather than those who grumble all day. May each administrator be compassionate and wil truly listen to teachers, students, and parents alike, and make informed decisions that are not guided by man, but by the holy spirit.
I pray for our leaders. Those who make educational decisions on a teacher’s behalf. You have the ability to move mountains before our eyes. As so, you have the ability to change their attitudes and decisions. If this swift change is not in your plans, God, I would only ask that you start from the bottom. The teachers.
Encourage them. Help them to realize they are doing your work. You have called on them by name to serve you in this capacity, and each day you have made new. Please allow them to see the good and the positive. Shield them from what the enemy would prefer them to only see. Equip them perfectly for the jobs with the knowledge they need to be their absolute best, but inspire them to be their best through You.
In Your Sweet Name.