Faithful Blogger

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Prayerful Teaching in the New Year

That we should serve in the newness of spirit….

                        Romans 7:6 (KJV)


Prayer and Meditation

 As a teacher I continue to recognize that I have been called by God for a special mission, a mission of service to His children.   As I put aside all of the disappointments, disillusions, and frustrations of last year, I ask for a renewal of my faith in God and a newness of spirit that will manifest itself in my family, my classroom, and my community.  May the Holy Spirit enable me to live a Christian life and prompt me to continue to offer my heart to others.


The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Look back at the last several months.  Concentrate on all things positive.  What went right?  What was your proudest moment?  What was your greatest success story?  Perhaps you might want to write these moments down to bolster your soul in times if you experience times of doubt and despair.

  • Determine what changes you would like to see in your classroom.  Devise an action plan to make these changes a reality.  Change can be implemented at any time.  It knows no calendar date.  If something is not working, change it.

  • Promise yourself that you will try one new instructional practice each month.  Pick a monthly target date such as the third Wednesday of each month.  The new instruction practice might be a paper and pencil graphic organizer, involve a new technology, a rearrangement of desks, or a plan to streamline your work or classroom procedures.

  • Find something positive about each student.  Run the list through your head or, if you have time, write each student’s name on an index card.  As you uncover the gifts each student brings to you, write it on the card.  Concentrate on the students who have little written on their card.

  • Resolve that you will never hold a grudge against any student.  The actions and attitudes of students cannot be taken personally.  Always remember your calling and that you are the adult whom God has bestowed upon a special mission.

Challenge of the Week

At the end of the day, or at the end of the week, determine your proudest moment.  This will not necessarily involve your brightest, most eager student.  Chances are it will be a small step taken by one of your most challenging students.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,
Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Prayerful Teaching Wishes you Joy at Christmas

I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day
In the city of David a Savior,
Who is Christ the Lord.

       Luke 2:10, 11 (NKJV)

May the Blessings of the Christ Child be yours this holy season.

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Prayerful Teaching Makes Room for Each Child

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn
Luke 2:7 (NKJV)

Prayer and Meditation

Though there was no room at the inn for the Baby Jesus, I will make room for each child in my classroom.  It is not good enough just to stable a child at a desk or table.  I will offer warmth and comfort, especially to those who so easily “blend in” or become “invisible” to me.  Because God’s love dwells in me and allows me to see His love in all children, I can make room for each child in my classroom.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Modify and/or tier assignments.  This takes more effort at first, but the payoff is great.  It provides room at the inn for everyone.
  • Teach individual responsibility.  At the end of the day, give students an exit card on which they can record one or two successes of the day.  As they leave the classroom, they can hand this to the teacher.  Sample successes might include, “I worked without disturbing others,” “I asked for help when I needed it,” or “I followed my self-improvement plan.”
  • Telling students to “look back over the chapter and find the answer” will never suffice for all students and is the same as refusing some of them room at the inn.  They may need this skill taught and modeled a number of times.
  •  “Pay attention” is a meaningless and impossible command.   Students either do not hear it or are in the habit of ignoring it.  Replace this command by making room for something more meaningful.  Is it time for a change of pace such as a movement from the auditory style of learning to the kinesthetic style of learning?  Do students need to set achievable short term goals to see immediate success?  It is time to introduce a graphic organizer or other form of review?
  • Covering curriculum is useless.  Covering the manager with straw does little to upgrade it to a room at the inn.  Teaching needs to be reflected in what the students have learned, not in the curriculum that was "covered."

 Challenge of the Week

Select a student for whom there has been little or no room in your classroom.  Determine the reason for this situation.  Devise an action plan to give this child warmth, comfort and a special room in your classroom.

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Prayerful Teaching Inspires Students to Shine

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Matthew: 5: 14-15 (NKJV)


One cannot move forward without light.  Especially at this time of year we are reminded that Jesus is the light of my world.  May I have the wisdom to lead, to give direction, and to guide my students into the light no matter what form of darkness may surround them or smother their potential.  This is my mission as a follower of Jesus.  This is my mission inherent in my calling as a teacher. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Give students enough wait time when responding to a question or taking part in a discussion.  We have a tendency to rush, to “cover” curriculum. Neither students nor adults can instantly “uncover” their responses.
  • Create opportunities for all students to perform tasks and contribute offerings that light up the classroom atmosphere.
  • Recognize that shy students need to be made to feel safe and secure.  The shy students are often the forgotten students.  Shyness may be a means of self-protection or a way of escaping from pain.  Discover the light that brilliantly burns within them.
  • Bring to light and honor achievements.  They may be social, academic, or acts of caring and kindness.
  • Speak in a normal voice.  Raising your voice will not uncover the  light.  Often times it will blanket and snuff out the light.

Challenge of the Week

Select one student who seems to lag behind others, whose light is not so readily seen.  Assist that student in bringing the light out from under their basket and into the classroom.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Practicing Patience

Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

                                 1 Timothy 1:16 (NABRE)

Prayer and Meditation

With patience we await the birth of our Lord and seek to practice patience in all aspects of our own lives.  We do not live in a culture of patience.  We want fast food, faster Internet speed, instant communication, and immediate results.  Let me make the practice of patience part of my spiritual journey.  As a teacher I have been gifted with plenty of opportunities to practice patience every hour of every day.  Practicing patience is a powerful action.  It is God’s children who are the benefactors each time I practice patience.  May my actions in my calling as a teacher always reflect serenity, kindness, and patience. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Take your time making decisions.  If a child has broken the rules and you feel anger or impatience, tell the child, “We will discuss this tomorrow.”  If a child brings a problem or a dilemma to your attention, you can say, “Let’s wait a day before we decide what to do.  Both of us might have a better solution tomorrow.”

  • Students can feel when teachers are discouraged and impatient.  They probably sense your impatience before you do.  As a teacher, you cannot remove yourself from the scene for even a few minutes.  You are constantly on stage.  If you feel your patience ebbing and have difficulty regaining your sense of tranquility, switch the class to a different activity.  Students cannot learn in an atmosphere of anger, stress, and impatience.

  • Create a peaceful atmosphere in your classroom as much for your own sake as for the sake of your students.  Bring in green plants.  Place a calming picture or quote you can focus on when you find yourself at a loss for patience. 

  • Allow students to engage in creative work as often as possible.  Have them create math problems and exchange them with each other.  Allow them to figure out how the knowledge they are gaining affects their daily lives now and in the future.  Even be so bold as to ask them how they would like to demonstrate and share their knowledge with you and their classmates.  When students have a stake in curriculum planning, they are automatically more engaged and less likely to test your patience.

  • Meltdowns will happen and must be expected.  They are a true test of teacher patience.  Have strategies in place for dealing with meltdowns before they happen.  Yelling, shaming, humiliating, and admonishing the child who has a meltdown will not “fix” the situation.  It will only raise it to a higher level.  Worse yet, it rarely works to try to reason with a child in the middle of a meltdown.  After the meltdown is over is the time to discuss it with the child and involve the child in finding solutions to prevent future meltdowns.  Meltdowns are a real test of patience, especially with a built in audience with all eyes on you and waiting to see how you will react.  Establish safety valves to prevent or diffuse meltdowns. 
    • Have a spot in the classroom where a child may sit as a signal to everyone to leave him alone. 
    • Have some stuffed animals a child can bring to her desk as a signal she is feeling sad, angry, or unhappy.  
    • There is more than one way to achieve a standard.  De-escalate the situation.  If a child is frustrated working on a task, suggest a different task with the words, “Would you prefer to….?” 
    • Practice, practice, and practice meltdown strategies with your students so they know what to do if they feel a meltdown coming.

Challenge of the Week

St. Teresa of Avila said, “Let nothing upset you.”  When you feel yourself upset and at a loss for patience, recite a short, simple prayer that brings calming, peace, and patience to your soul.  “Lord, give me patience,” is one example.

God Bless and Prayerful Teacher

Elizabeth A. Wink 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

May you have the gift of faith, the blessings of hope, and at the end of each day, more reasons than ever to thank God for your sacred calling as teacher.  

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayerful Teaching for Advanced Learners

May my teaching drop like the rain,
my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
like showers on new growth.

Deut. 32:2 (NRSVCE)



Prayer and Meditation

Rain, dew, grass, growth—all are gifts from God.  All of God’s gifts are different, yet one is not more important than the other.  This is true with my students.  They all are gifted.   Each brings different talents, skills, and capacities to learn into the classroom.  Because I strive so hard to reach those I consider to be my most challenging students, I find it easy to forget about my advanced learners.  They seem to float along so smoothly, needing little guidance or attention from me.  Like the gentle rain nourishes new growth, I must shower them with opportunities to stretch their minds, expand their knowledge, and challenge them to reach new heights.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Allow the advanced learners to set and keep track of academic goals.  Students will more than likely set higher goals and aspirations for themselves than adults would set for them.  Because visuals are great motivators, advanced learners should be responsible for graphing their own progress. 

  • Use different graphic organizers for different students.  This is an easy way to challenge the advanced learner. Select three or four graphic organizers for the unit of study.  Each student will receive a “just right” organizer.  The advanced learner will receive the most complex or challenging graphic organizer.

  • Present a lesson to all students (whole-class grouping) if it is expected that the same text be used with all students.   Offer different levels of support.  Some students may need direct support from the teacher.  Others may quickly move on to independent reading and extension activities. Reconvene the entire class to share their findings.  This can be achieved whole-class or in carefully constructed groupings.

  • Design flexible lesson plans so that all students are focused on the same core concepts and skills, but at different levels of complexity.  This does not mean the advanced learners get more class work, or more homework.  It means that the advanced students are working at a deeper level. 

  • Condense instruction for the advanced leaner.  Pre-identify content or skills the advanced learner already has mastered.  This can be accomplished with a quick whole-class assessment which will be useful for planning instruction for all students.  Time can be provided for the investigation of a topic that is related, but beyond the scope of the regular curriculum at the present grade level or a higher grade level. If an advanced leaner works at curriculum that will be presented at a higher grade level, nothing has really been accomplished since the opportunity to learn the material would be presented at the higher grade level anyway.  Branch out, not up.  Several choices should be given for the topic to be investigated along with several options to demonstrate what has been learned. 

Reminder: It is easy to unintentionally misuse advanced learners.  Their job is not to tutor other students, take on monitor duties, correct papers, or in any way act as a teaching assistant.  Just like all students, they are in school to experience new learning opportunities and expand their depth of knowledge.

Challenge of the Week:

Plan one lesson that nourishes the advanced learners to grow to their greatest potential.

Blessings and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Thanking Others

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his 

love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1  (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation
May I live out every day in thanksgiving to you in 

both my personal and professional life.  May I 

continually recognize your hand in my calling as a 

teacher and show my thanks to you, Lord, in my 

words, my deeds, and my interactions with my 

students, your most precious children.  I am thankful

 for your love which endures forever.  May I show 

love to my students even as they test my patience 

and bestow upon me the  trials and challenges 

inherent in a teacher’s daily life.. 
The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Allow students to hear you frequently say “thank you” both to them and to others with whom you work and interact with during the day.

  • Write two letters of gratitude to people who have positively influenced their lives.. One letter could be to a family member and one letter  to someone outside the family.  Make provisions so that the people to whom they are addressed actually receive the letter.  If the school can provide the postage, the letters could be mailed.  This would make it extra special for the students and truly be a surprise for the recipients.

  • If you have students who speak a second language, have them teach the class how to say words such as “thank you” and “please”  in a different languages.

  • Choose a content area.  Create a list of inventions, people, or ideas for whom we are most thankful.

  • As literature is read or content areas studied, discuss what various people do for us and how our lives would not be the same without these people whom we usually take for granted.  Some examples would be the fast food worker, the school maintenance workers, the bus drivers, and the checkers at the big box stores.

Challenge of the Week

Look for an appropriate time (or build in an appropriate time) to share with your students some of the thing for which you are most thankful.  This can be very informal, something that just “fits in” the day or flows into the conversation.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Prayerful Teaching: When I am Tired and Worn Out

He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak.
                                                            Isaiah 40:29 (TLB)

Prayer and Meditation

It is approaching that time of year again—a time of intensified excitement and activity in both my classroom and in my personal life.  With it also comes a time of heightened demands upon my time. Lord, you are aware of my every need.  When my spiritual strength runs low, refresh me in your love.  When I am tired, weary, and weak in mind, in body, and in soul, increase my trust in you.  Let me not be like the autumn leaf, swirling wildly, carelessly in the wind only to be forgotten and crumble into dust. Instead, let me be like the taproot, steadily and consistently sending out new roots whilst seeking God’s sustainable nourishment.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Ask for help. God has stationed people in your midst to help you.  You may not see them because they are the people who are part of your daily life, people you view as needing your help instead of people who can help you.  Most people, especially children, are predisposed to want to help. By allowing others to help you, you allow them to shine, prove they are valued, and set them up for a life of service.  Children are proud to help their teacher with small tasks. Avail yourself of their service.

  • Look at your list of classroom jobs through new eyes.  Ask students what jobs they feel could be added to the list and what additional responsibilities they could handle.  If their ideas are feasible, try them on a temporary basis. 

  • Think about giving responsibilities to students beyond the usual classroom jobs.  Can they set goals and/or develop a plan on how they will monitor and reach their goals?  These goals can concern behavior or academic challenges.  Can they chart their progress?  Can they write a note to their parents about their achievements? 

  • Rid your personal life and your teaching life of clutter.  Be brave and throw out those unread newspapers, junk mail, and magazines that are stacking up and taking up valuable real estate. Close your eyes and donate “I might need it someday” items and unwanted presents you have received whether they are taking up residence in your home or in your classroom.

  • Deal with “time hogs.”   Who and what are the “time hogs” in your life?  Facebook? Writing Amazon reviews?  Committees that accomplish little or nothing?  Fear of the “delete” and “unsubscribe” buttons for email control?  Lining up desks, chairs, and books in a perfect line?  Complaining to others instead of problem solving?

Challenge of the Week

Each day ask one person (student, friend, family member) to lift one burden, no matter how small, off of your shoulders.  This allows you to bring someone closer into your life.  By asking for help you are also empowering the one whom you have chosen to help you.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prayerful Teaching when Speaking Out is Difficult

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.

Acts 18:9 (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation

So many times I am surrounded by vicious talk.  Often it is colleagues or teachers engaging in mean-spirited, even malicious gossip about students, parents, or each other.  Sometimes it is students participating in cruel and heartless rants causing others to cry or question their self-worth.  It is so easy to ignore these words and feel I am doing my part by not participating in the verbal harangues, but I know this is not enough.  Bestow upon me the courage and faith you gave Paul so that I may break my silence and not be afraid to speak even when I am uncomfortable and afraid.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching
  • Set an example for students and staff.  Do not let negative words cross your lips.   Listening to vicious talk is not a passive action, it is a participatory action. 
  • When breaking your silence, remain emotionally disengaged.  Be assertive while staying calm and respectful.  Speak only of the incident at hand.  Make your point as short as possible—never more than 60 seconds.
  • Stop the malicious behavior as soon as it begins.  Don’t hear it out and then respond.
  • Build confidence in your students.  Teach them how to respond to gossip and bullying.  It is not enough to tell them to intervene.  They need specific strategies.  Modeling intervention strategies is necessary.  Follow up with more modeling.  Modeling must continue the entire school year.  Another necessary step in order for the modeled strategies to be effective, is that students practice and act out the strategies under adult supervision.
  • Discuss mean-spirited talk in class. Define it. Why does it occur?  What kind of person promotes it?  Create a class code of conduct concerning gossip and verbal bullying. Work in groups to create posters which can be posted throughout the school. 

Challenge of the Week

Prepare to break your silence.  Think of an “attack with words” you will most likely encounter this week.  Plan how you will respond and what you will say in response.  Sometimes it helps to practice in front of a mirror or practice with a partner.  This does not mean you will memorize a speech, only that you will be more prepared and more confident in your response.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Blessing Others

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
                                                                        Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)

You bless me daily with special gifts of your divine love.  In turn, help me to confer blessings onto others, particularly those I meet in my daily life.  Let me never take the words, “bless,” or “blessings,” for granted or carelessly banter these words about as ordinary and impersonal.  When I offer someone a blessing, may I follow through with actions of hope and love. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Bless your students with kind words and expressions of gratitude.  Your words may be the only expression of caring and love they receive that day.  Think of times in your life when one kind word made a huge difference in your attitude and outlook on life.
  • Bless your students by silently praying for them during classroom discussions.  When giving “think time” to a student or a class, ask God to bestow a particular blessing over them e.g. “Bless ______ so that she might______,” Bless my students so they can______.”  Pray in secret and expect to see changes manifest themselves.
  • Bless your students by writing a short, personal note praising them for a gift they have shared with the class.  The note need be only two or three sentences long.  If one or two notes a week are written, eventually everyone will receive a personal note from you.  Nothing is too small.   Did a student who has trouble with math get a problem correct on the board?   Catch acts of kindness, no matter how small they may seem to an outsider.  Did a child who finds it hard to share, lend another child a pencil or piece of paper?  Blessing notes can be extended to staff members.  It is easier if a small stash of stationary is kept in your desk.  If possible, mail the note to the student's home.  All children love mail, but this mail can initiate family dinner discussions.
  • Bless your students by inviting them to have lunch with you.  If you already have lunch duty, tell your students how much you enjoy having lunch with them or having the opportunity to talk with them during their lunch.
  • Ask God to bless you and your family and to continue to give you the strength to carry on His work as teacher.  .

Challenge of the Week
As you wash your hands or brush your teeth, use this “empty” time to say a prayer of blessing over those you love.  

God Bless those who love me
And those who love those who love me.
God bless those who I love
And those who love those who I love
God bless all my students and all those who love my students.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink