Faithful Blogger

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Prayerful Teaching: Have a Joyous Easter in the Risen Lord

Prayerful Teaching: Have a Joyous Easter in 

the Risen Lord

Jesus said to her, 
“I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
 Do you believe this?”

                John 11:25-26 (NIV)

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Prayerful Teaching for Hard to Reach Students

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

                                                Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)

Prayer and Reflection 

As Holy Week approaches, we are reminded of all the people who turned against Jesus.  Why?  Because following Him was challenging.  Because He asked more than most were willing give.  Because it was easier to follow those who required less time and effort, less patience and compassion,  I have some difficult students who constantly pose challenges in my busy classroom.  I cannot seem to reach them no matter how hard I try.  They drain me of energy, patience, and compassion.  They take up so much of my time and distract those students who are eager to learn and cooperate.  Help me to recognize the good qualities in all of my students.  Remind me why I was called to be a teacher.  Teach me to equally love all of your children with gentleness and patience. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Look for opportunities to give specific, genuine, honest, and sincere praise.  Always avoid false praise.
  • Greet difficult students with a gracious smile as you do all of your students when they enter your classroom every morning.
  • Though difficult, analyze what sets these students off on the wrong path.  Pay attention to facial expressions and body language.
  • Have private, heartfelt conversations and ask what they need to be successful and contributing members in their classroom.  Do not be judgmental, angry, defensive, or make promises that cannot be kept.  This conversation is not about you.  This is a time for you to listen and ask questions.  Use the stem, “How can I help you (fill in the blank)?”  Form a partnership to work together to find answers and solutions.
  • Always remain positive and calm.  You are the adult.  Do not take anything a students does or says personally.

Challenge of the Week:

Start small.  Select one student with whom you will practice patience.  Get to know that student as a Child of Christ.  Make it a point to have at least one private conversation with that student each day.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Prayerful Teaching to Increase Student Morale

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.

                                    Proverbs 27:2 (NIV)

Prayer and Meditation

Just as a teacher who feels worthless or unappreciated cannot teach to potential, a student who feels worthless or unappreciated cannot learn.  Because nothing builds morale as fast as well-earned praise, I will concentrate on giving praise, not the empty, convenient, jargon-filled words of praise that rattle out of one’s mouth like an obligation to be checked off a list, but the sincere, heartfelt praise of appreciation and gratitude.  Especially during this Lenten season, Lord, guide me in my effort to build student morale. Give me the words to offer my students sincere and meaningful praise as you steer me away from trite and tired words.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Be creative and original with your praise.  What does the phrase, “Good job” really mean?  Keep praise fresh and animated.  Clearly state what the student is doing or has done to earn the praise.  Some ideas:  “I am really impressed by the way you…..”  “Your statement that…is really a good point.”  “You quickly hung your coat up and quietly sat in your desk ready to learn.”

  • Honor children by honoring their names.  Include the child’s name with the praise.  “Mary, your choice of verbs in this paragraph really makes your story pop.”  “Ben, Matthew, and Lucy, you are the first to turn to the correct page in the math book.  Now I see that (list names) are joining us too.”

  • Compose a “cheat sheet” of one word synonyms to replace the generic good, great, or very good.  A Thesaurus will yield a limitless supply of ideas. Short on time?  Photocopy the Thesaurus entries for words like good and great.  This is also an easy way to add to students’ vocabulary.  Students all recognize praise even if they do not recognize the word assigned to the praise.   Soon students will be echoing words like stupendous, magnificent, and impressive. 

  • Encouraging words and actions build morale.  Words have the power to build up or the power to destroy student morale.  Words can nurture or dissolve student-teacher relationships. When giving negative feedback, the student needs explicit instruction on how to achieve goals and meet success.  “Word harder,” “try again,” or “you have three out of five wrong” are examples that crush morale because they do not present any opportunity for improvement or continued learning.  “It will help if you….”  “Why don’t you try to….”  “How can I help you understand….”

  • Build team spirit and increase morale by praising the entire class.  “I really love being a teacher at times like this when I can see so much learning in action.”  “I like coming into this room every morning because you all help to put it in order at the end of the day.” 

Challenge of the Week:

Students know if praise is unearned.  Praising mediocre work will not encourage a student to work harder.  Instead it destroys morale by sending the message that the teacher thinks mediocre work is all the student can achieve.  Avoid the temptation to hand out false praise this week. 

Blessings and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Prayerful Teaching is Doing the Will of our Father in Heaven

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
                                    Matthew 7:21

Prayer and Meditation

Lent is not only a time for sacrifice, but a time of quiet and deliberate action.  It is a time to discern and accept the will of God in our daily lives. Lord, let me not just venerate and know you from a distance, but open my heart and free my soul so I may totally immerse my life in you and unconditionally receive You into my life.  As I teach Your beloved children, guide me in my actions to live and breathe the Lenten season.

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

A Deliberate Action:  Write a short note to each of your students’ families highlighting an exceptional character trait the child possesses.  Give a specific example. Some starters:  “I notice how N… is always willing to lend a pencil to another student.  Her unselfish actions allow class to proceed smoothly and without embarrassment for another student.”  “I appreciate how N… raises his hand to add to classroom discussions.  He understands I cannot call on him every time he raises his hand.  Without complaint, he waits patiently his turn.”  If you have multiple classes, select two or three students from each class who you may not yet have acknowledged.

A Deliberate Action:  Instill hope.  Spending as little as 15 minutes per day tutoring students can have big pay offs.  Instead of focusing on flaws, build on student strengths.  Help students select reachable goals.  Celebrate each time a goal is achieved. 

A Deliberate Action:  In each class there are always one or two students who are undesignated wallflowers, who have few friends, are picked last for everything, and never get invited to parties or playdates.  These students can be a Lenten “project.”  Give them classroom responsibilities so others can see them as integral members of the classroom.  Find reasons to publically compliment them.  Allow them to be group leaders or co-leaders by giving them explicit tasks so others cannot take over and push them aside.  Let classmates see that you hold them in high esteem.

A Quiet Action:  As you walk around the room assisting students, pause before each student and say a silent prayer such as “God, may you protect and watch over N….”   Simply praying “God, Bless N….” can also do unseen wonders for your students.

A Quiet Action: Make it a point not to complain about any of your students (particular students or students as a whole) to anyone.  That includes not complaining to your own family members, friends, and especially teacher acquaintances.  Upon hearing others complain about students, find creative ways divert the conversation to a more positive track.

Challenge of the Week
Select one quiet or deliberate action you can take this Lent to keep the will of God alive and blossoming in your classroom.

Blessings and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink