Faithful Blogger

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Joyful Teaching

 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
                                    Psalm 33: 1-2 (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation

I am nothing without you.  I can do nothing without you.  Your Spirit allows me to return to my students each day with a fresh and joyful outlook.  I ask that I may continue to bring your Spirit into my teaching and into my classroom.  Help me to make my work a prayer and to offer praise to you as I instruct your children.  

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Accept the fact that there will be good days and bad days. Some days you will struggle to find any joy at all in your calling as teacher.  This is normal.  Think of it as a test of your calling as a teacher.  You will pass the test and emerge an even stronger teacher.

  • A smile is an instrument of praise.  Direct your smile at the student who achieves a small victory.  Smile at the whole class when they meet academic or behavior expectations.  A smile expresses more than words could ever convey.  Be generous with your smile.

  • To bring joy into the lives of your students is to give praise to the Lord.  It is music to the Lord.  You may be the source of the only joy a student may know on any particular day.

  • Pick a day—any day—especially a day you are feeling gloomy.  Attach a seating chart or even a blank piece of paper to a clip board.  Every time something  occurs that brings you joy (e.g. a child being nice to another child, a correct answer, a shared insight, overhearing a polite “thank you,” or “please”) place a check mark by the name of the child who brought you joy or just tally the joys on a blank piece of paper.  With every check mark you write, whisper in your head, “Praise God.”  You may even let students in on what you are doing.

  • Make a Classroom Joy poster with your students.  Early in the week discuss the meaning of joy.  Keep the definition broad as there is really no “correct” answer.  Allow students to share examples of times when they experienced joy.  Explain that at the end of the week the class will make a Classroom Joy poster which will list examples of joy students experienced in school during the week.   Students can write their “joy” on a Post-It Note to be placed on the poster or the teacher can write the “joys” that come out of classroom discussion on the poster.

Challenge of the Week

Singing joyfully to the Lord is contagious.  Sing out and share your joyful moments of teaching with your students, colleagues, parents, family, friends, and community. 

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Overcoming Doubt

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
                                                Matthew  14:31 (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation

Just like Peter, I am entertaining doubts---doubts about my capabilities to reach my students, doubts about my ability to manage a classroom, even doubts about my calling as a teacher.  I feel I lack the wisdom and insights of my colleagues.  I am ensnarled in doubt and disillusionment.  Just as you lifted up Peter, set him on his feet, and walked with him, I know you will rescue me from my doubts and uncertainties. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  •   Accept the fact that you will experience doubt.  Remind yourself teaching is challenging and that doubt, especially self-doubt, is a common human experience.  Stay away from the grumpy grumblers.  Hang out with those who encourage you and affirm the calling of Teacher. This cannot be restated too often.

  • Start or continue your 2015-16 school year file and stuff it with evidence of positive experiences e.g. notes and cards received from students and parents and photos of student work.   Take notes at parent conferences.  Write down the positive comments you receive.

  • Mingle doubt with reflection.  Instead of focusing on you as the single cause of the problem and asking,  “Why can’t I…?” or “Why didn’t I…?” or “How could I have…?”  focus on a solution to the quandary that seated the doubt in your mind.  Ask instead, “What is causing…?” or “What strategy could be employed to…?

  • Build a support team even if it is a one person support team.  This often is a teacher whom you can trust and who can be your unofficial mentor.  Express your doubts and concerns to this person.  Do not just take your doubts and complaints to this person, but ask for advice and help seeking solutions to problems.  On the other hand, seek to mentor other teachers who may have just received their calling.  Never doubt your ability or worthiness to mentor.  If one seeks to mentor and be mentored, the wisdom you gain will be doubled,   

  • Treat yourself with patience, dignity, and respect.

      Challenge of the Week

As you close your classroom door for the day, continue or begin the important practice of thanking God for calling you to another day of teaching His children.  Do not take your keys out of the door, or move down the hallway until you have recalled at least one positive event that occurred during your teaching day.  Upon recalling that event, recognize and acknowledge it as one of many blessings God bestowed upon you that day. 

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Turning Your Burdens over to the Lord.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
                                    Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

The new school year has just begun and already I feel overburdened.  It seems all my good intentions have gone astray.  I spent so many summer hours planning lessons and getting my classroom ready, but now I am faced with the reality of a teacher’s life.  Lord, as I turn my burdens over to you, give me a strong and agile spirit to understand and accommodate the needs of my students.  Let me do so with empathy and a joyfulness that praises your name.  And at the end of the day, when I am most weary and burdened, let me recall at least one smile on the face of one student, one successful teaching moment, and one way you, Lord, refreshed my soul. 

Actions of Prayerful Teaching

Write down the reasons why you became a teacher.  Upon reflection you will discover that you not only answered the call to teach, but embrace your calling.  Every day has a purpose.  Every day allows you to make a positive difference in a child’s life.  Every day forces you to stretch and grow in your love for God and His children.

Schedule at least 15 - 30 minutes of “me time” a day.  This can be very difficult.  If left to chance it will not happen.  It is easier if the “me time” is scheduled for the same time each day as that way it becomes a habit.

Hang a quote.  Mandatory announcements and bulletins, student artifacts, and colorful posters fill the walls of your classroom.  Just like “me time,” you need “me space.”  Dedicate a space, even a small space where you can hang a “just for me” quote that inspires you, calms you, and motivates you.  It should be in a spot that is highly visible to you as you move about the classroom.  Change the quote whenever you feel like it.

Smile, especially when you do not feel like smiling.  When lessons do not go as planned, when a difficult child throws yet another tantrum, when you feel most useless, weary, and burdened, smile.  A smile gives one inner peace.  It relaxes you and lowers stress and anxiety.  It brightens one’s mood.  It is contagious.  A smile says, “It is all right.  God will get me through this.”

Thank God for the challenges of teaching.  Not everyone is called to be a teacher.   Not everyone could withstand the challenges and frustrations a teacher must face before the feelings of joy and accomplishment slide in to take their place.  God has called you to the challenges of teaching because He trusts you with them.  God has called you to the challenges of teaching because they teach you to rely on Him.  God has called you to the challenges of teaching to burn in your heart the realization that turning over problems to God is better than solving them on your own.  God has called you to the challenges of teaching because they grow your soul and allow you to gain the wisdom and strength to grow the souls of those whose lives you daily touch. 

Challenge of the Week

Each day this week as you lock your classroom door at the end of the day, pause and recall one successful teaching moment or one child whose day was brightened because of you.  Maybe it was just a smile you gifted to a child, but maybe it was the only smile that child received all day.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Prayerful Teaching is Laboring for the Lord

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

                                                  Matthew 11:27-29 (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation

There are days when I have doubts about my call as a teacher, days when I am weary, burdened, and broken, days when I do not want to labor for the Lord.  Teaching can be challenging, heart wrenching, and even heartbreaking.  Help me to accept the fact I was not called to teaching to serve myself an easy life.  I was called to serve the Lord, to serve and care for his most innocent children.  Let me learn from your example and be gentle and humble of heart as I accept my calling as teacher and labor for the sake of for your precious children. 

Prayerful Teaching in Action

  • Stay away from occasions and places where you come in contact with grumblers and complainers. They will only make you feel your labors are in vain and bring down your spirit.  If they are in the teacher’s lunch room, find another place to eat.  If it is the teacher in the classroom next door, always greet the teacher with a smile and a positive statement.

  • Determine what you can do to bring a climate of joy serenity to your classroom.  Start small with a realistic action plan with a goal of implementing just one or two actions.  Set up the plan with a timeline.  Make sure your action plan and timeline is realistic.

  • Pause as you close your classroom door before going home for the day. Give yourself a moment of silence to praise God with this short prayer stem, “Thank you, Lord, for calling me today to labor among your most precious children. Thank you, Lord, for allowing/giving me the experience of…. (Mention one or more joys you experienced during the day.)

  • Celebrate success of your labors every day.  Make it a habit to close the day or the hour by stating two or three or four things that went well.  These can be general or very specific.  Perhaps two can be contributed by the students and two contributed by you.  Another option: Appoint a student to be on “success outlook” for the day.  It is that student’s job to look for successes and reiterate one or two successes at the end of the day.  You will always be on the outlook to add the names of students who may need extra encouragement.  Example:  I noticed (state name) was extremely attentive today and I am sure (he/she) learned a lot.  A follow-up would be to appoint that student to be on “success outlook” the next day.

  • Reach out to those who can support you and help you in your labors.  Look into community resources.  Do not forget parents and students.  Every little assist helps you build connections with others and allows others to connect with you.  It is always interesting to survey students and ask them how they can be classroom/teacher assistants. 

Challenge of the Week

Label a folder 2015-16 School Year.  Place in the folder anything that encourages you in your calling as teacher.  It may be notes from parents or students.  It may be a saying you have clipped or copied.  It may be an index card you dated and jotted down something that went well or something a co-worker or student said to lift you up.  It may even be a copied artifact of something a student did exceptionally well.  You determine what goes in the folder.  When you have doubts about your labors, prayerfully dig into the folder and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink