I love teaching. I find Jesus there.
I watch rude students become gentle and stumbling readers become book lovers. We set goals and celebrate victories. I relish those split second incidents that thrill: the moment of wonder that crosses the young, hardworking choir as they hear the tough chord reach harmony, or the shout of joy when we take the final count of Christmas money– and it met our goal! Yes, I love teaching.
But sometimes I get tired. Tired of saying no. Tired of holding a firm line. Tired of cheering and then witnessing defeat. Tired of petitioning Jesus for the same need every day for weeks, for months, sometimes years.
Too many tired days can lead me to guilt. Where is God’s power? I am missing something here. I am not holy enough, smart enough, organized enough, creative enough, social enough, or something enough. Along with guilt can come cynicism. I am not sure why I am teaching. Is there any good happening in this school, in my classroom?
This semester I had two moments that helped me refocus. One morning the students worked together to compile our prayer requests from the year into three categories: answered with yes, answered with no, still waiting for answer. I was going to be happy with at least a few in the “yes” column, but God and the students were thinking of more. Our “yes” column was long! God is present in my classroom.
The second moment happened as I filled out Christmas cards for my students. I decided to mention one skill or character quality connected to each one. “I can see that you have a heart for the hurting. I wonder how God will use that gift.” When the job was about half completed, I realized I was seeing my crew with fresh eyes. There is good in my classroom.
Take time to document God’s presence. I find that doing this with staff or students is helpful. My own list often feels small and hesitant. Other perspectives can boost your faith and open your eyes.
Take time to assess your students. What good is happening in your classroom?
Who is organized?
Who notices the trash on the ground or balls left out?
Who can you send to do an errand?
Who do you put in charge of a poster? Why?
Who does well with the younger students?
Who cheers others on to success?
Who can handle heavy loads without buckling?
Who wrestles until they get it?
Who loves learning and seeks to grow?
Who loves what is good and right?
Who puts thought into life and thinks things over?
Who can win a game with no effect on their ego?
That’s your crew. God grace is with you! Carry on with joy!
CONTRIBUTOR: Darlene Diem