Faithful Blogger

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