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
God Bless and Prayerful Teacher
Elizabeth A. Wink