The smell of cafeteria food is in the air. The sound of squeaking sneakers echoes through hallways. And yellow school buses pepper the highways.
This means one thing: School is back in session.
As the new school year begins, educators need your prayer. In working with veteran and novice teachers for over a decade, and from my own experiences as a classroom teacher, here are three specific ways you can pray
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
Please pray for us to sustain our focus on who we are in Christ, what our purpose is, and most of all, whom we serve. Many times we become inundated with paperwork, policies and procedures, especially at the beginning of the year. These tasks are necessary, and each detail is important to consider, but together they can become overwhelming.
For years I have joked with my husband that we teachers are able to fit an entire year’s worth of work in nine months. The first four months can be the busiest of the school year. Many days I leave my home at 6:30 am, and I don’t return until after 6:30 pm.
It is imperative that we spend this time wisely and that we remember to put first things first. In the long “to do” list that we make each day, we must intentionally put our students and what directly impacts them at the top. If not, what matters least will come at the cost of what matters most. We have an important task of loving and leading the children we’ve been given the opportunity to serve. This task must drive our days.
“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
Teaching can be an all-consuming profession. According to research from the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, teachers go through predictable phases during the first few months of teaching. We begin with an idealistic phase of anticipation and then survival and by the first nine weeks of school we can hit the wall of disillusionment. This is particularly true for new teachers.
It is about this time every semester where we could use targeted support to move toward rejuvenation and reflection. Our teachers need prayer for endurance to run the race — not just during the first few weeks of school when everyone is bright eyed and eager to learn, but through the hard parts of early morning bus duty and late night grading, through weekend lesson planning and then mid-week re-planning and adjusting based on students’ needs, to finish strong at the end of the year, knowing we have done our job and served our students well.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.‘” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Please pray that we would see our students through God’s eyes. In the current age of accountability in our nation with education, many times we are given test scores and pages of data. This information tells us about students’ reading levels, math abilities, grade point average and what their anticipated abilities and deficits are. With mandates and reforms pushing academic achievement, it is easy to lose sight of who our students are as people, as children dearly loved and made in God’s own image.
Please pray that we would value the data that we are given and use it wisely to inform our instruction and to provide the very best learning opportunities for our students. But also pray that we would not let anything change our view of our students’ worthiness to be loved, of the God-given potential in each and every one of them, and of our calling to not only seek the goodness that lies within them, but to also give them grace when they need it the most.
It is in the moments when our students receive grace when they don’t deserve it, that they see Christ in our actions and in our hearts.
This article is one of series of articles examining education and educators.