There is a time to tear apart,
and a time to sew together;
a time to be quiet,
and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 (NLV)
The long awaited summer vacation has finally arrived. I feel so energetic. I will not waste this summer like I have the previous summers. With careful planning of my time and with so many days stretching out before me, I can map out the next school year, revise my lessons, read professional articles and books, and reenergize myself. With the arrival of September, I will be ready for anything that comes my way. But I deceive myself. I am dependent on You, Lord, just as much during summer as during the school year. Lead me to realistic summer intentions. First and foremost, assist me to set aside time to speak to You and to quiet myself to listen to Your voice. Let me not just “tear apart” what I want to change about the manner in which I answer and perform my calling, but help me to take the threads of my work and “sew together” a fabric that enables me to become a better teacher for Your children.
The Actions of Prayerful Teaching
- Indulge in daily conversations with God. A conversation goes two ways. It requires a speaker and a listener. Speak to God about anything and everything, but quiet yourself so you can listen to God speaking to you. God is the one person you do not have to worry about “getting it” or misunderstanding the meaning of your words. You have spent a year speaking in clear, precise, and measured words to sometimes unwilling listeners. A conversation with God relieves you of that baggage. Its only requirement is an open heart and a willing soul, not measured movement of lips and tongue. Set a daily time for this conversation. Begin by thanking God for the last few minutes of quiet before you arise in the morning and start off the day in conversation with Him.
- Spend your first week of summer vacation enjoying yourself. All year long you are basically working and on call well into the evening hours. Now is the time to treat yourself to something special, something you could not do during the school year. Simple, ordinary treats to self are the best. Hire a babysitter for the afternoon. Unplug from all electronics. Take a book to the park and read. Listen to the silence. Walk along the lakeshore, a river, or any green space with only yourself for company. Leisurely visit a farmer’s market. Engage in conversation with the vendors and other visitors. Ask permission to pet any dog that interests you. Is there a movie you want to see? Do you enjoy window shopping? This is the week to set aside special time for yourself.
- Plunge into a new activity. Sew up new experiences. What is it that you always wanted to attempt, but never had the time to try? Mark dates and times on your calendar for the pursuit this new activity. Treat the dates and times just as you would luncheon dates with your friends or any other appointments. There will be challenges to keeping these dates and times firm, but this is the only way you will be able to prevent life from getting in the way of new growth.
- Select two or three lessons you want to “tear apart” or “sew together” over summer vacation. Being who we are and wanting to do our best to honor our calling, we tend to conceive overly ambitious plans and goals for our vacation. We want to tear apart, analyze, and make better every little thing that happened in the last school year. As a result we become discouraged, overwhelmed and disappointed with ourselves for having “wasted” the summer. We need to be realistic. Just as you would map out your curriculum, map out a timeline for when you will work on these two or three lessons. Adjust your goals if time is running short. No rule says you have to completely revise or create your entire agenda for the two or three chosen lessons. The important objective is to get started, to begin the sewing process.
- Record ideas while they are fresh. A teacher’s mind never stops churning with ideas, especially in the more relaxed atmosphere of summer. When you get ideas for the upcoming school year, jot them down on index cards. Do not toss out any ideas you consider “crazy,” “stupid,” or in the category of “This will never work.” You are creating building blocks you can modify or change at any time. A separate index card for each idea will allow for easy classifying and sorting.
Challenge of the Week
Nurture yourself. Create a space and place for prayer and private time. If you do not take care of your physical and spiritual needs, you will not be able to take care of the needs of others.
God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,
Elizabeth A. Wink