“Are you ready for school to start?” 180 school days ago, I began a post with this question. I was looking ahead to a new school year—a new class, new textbooks, a new writing curriculum, some new colleagues, and all the potential a new year holds. I ended that post with a comforting verse, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” and reflected on knowing that as God has been faithful in every one of the 48 first days of school that I had been part of, I could trust that He would be faithful in that first day of school year 2017-2018.
And now I am at the other end of 2017-2018, looking back and reflecting on the year. I can say that it was a good year. It was a challenging year in some ways, but it was a good year. Many days, I felt like I was using every bit of my teaching experience, all my classroom management skills, and all the training I had. I learned a lot, and I can see that my students learned a lot, as well. This morning before the children arrived, I was going over my plan for the day, and checking to see if everything was ready. I remembered that on the first day of school I had stood at my classroom doorway and prayed over the students, the room, the school, and my teaching. I wanted to close the year in the same way, so again I stood at the doorway and prayed for the students, the school, my teaching, and the plans for this last day.
The question now is, “Are you ready for school to be out?” Again, I’m not sure how to answer that!
Yes, I am ready for a break from grading, to have more freedom in the schedule, and to catch up on some other things. But I will miss my children and the relationships we have built over this year. The end of the year is hard for me, as I think of how I have worked with these children 180 days and we have become a first-grade family. I recall the sweet things they have said, their amusing comments, encouragement, and victories as we worked through a difficult concept or a behavioral need. In this last day’s devotions, I give a blessing for my students and pray for them, mentioning each name. I share the verse, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” I tell the class that I’m not their parent, but they do feel like my children now and it does bring me joy when I hear that my students walk in truth.
There were challenges with some exceptional behavior needs this year, and I invested a lot of time, study, research, and much prayer into working with that child. How exciting today to reflect on that progress with a child who had melt-downs over minor things becoming a child who sat quietly beside me and engaged in the awards assembly today. There were challenges to work through with some relationships. I felt like I didn’t measure up to some expectations, and that presented a challenge. When test scores did not come out as I would have liked, and did not seem to reflect the learning that I know happened, the reading specialist said, “Look at the growth that has been made! We need to celebrate that!”
The verse I think of now is, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” I can reflect at the close of 2017-2018 on how the Lord helped us. I can celebrate the growth in my students—their academic, behavioral, and spiritual growth, and I thank the Lord for helping us through the year. I want to give Him the honor for this growth and for directing the work in our first-grade family.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt