Whether you have a week or a month left to crank out those first sets of lesson plans, here are three important steps in preparing for the new school year.
By Sheri Wohlfert
The tail end of July is an important time in the life of a teacher. It usually takes me several weeks to emotionally separate from the group of kids I just spent nine months bonding with and finally catch up on things at home such as proper grocery shopping, putting the house in order, and learning to re-shift Sunday-night thinking. As teachers, we always seem to carry a piece of our work with us. That’s the difference between having a job and having a vocation, isn’t it?
Our work is important — and it’s not just about measurable outcomes, it’s about building the Kingdom and encouraging young disciples. So as we sit here at the end of July, it’s time to think ahead. Whether you have a week or a month left to crank out those first sets of lesson plans, I’d like to offer three important steps in preparing for the new school year. These three things are simple, and when I make them a part of my summer, I find they can make a huge difference as I prepare to greet the new faces and touch the hearts that will fill my classroom.
Not many others truly understand the depth and breadth of the work we do. While most focus on the bottom line– things like grades and test scores, we realize the prize jewels of our work can never be measured on a test. The most challenging and valuable traces of our work, worry, and prayer can’t be measured or illustrated by a check in a box. Our work is life-changing, and the three steps I focus on each summer help me realize that the value of my work doesn’t have to be recognized or acknowledged by anyone but the Father who has given me the gifts and opportunity to do this wonderful work.
Step one: Pray for your new class. I take my class list home with me at the end of the year so I can spend the summer praying for each student by name. I pray over each name, asking God to give me the grace to be exactly the teacher that child needs. I ask him to make me aware of their particular gifts and talents and to show me the ways he’d like me to help each child on their path to sainthood. Some of the names cause me to linger a little longer and some invite me to trust and see with God’s eyes, not the eyes of the teacher who had them last year. I pray, “Lord, make me ready to teach and love this child.” I’m also reminded as I pray that each one of those children are somebody’s most valuable treasure, so I pray for the grace to act like I know that.
Step two: Rest, laugh, and plan each day. If each day is a balance of all three, there is peace. Don’t save all the work for the last week before school. Divide up your days so you dedicate a chunk of time to both work and play.
Step three: Plan your ABC lessons carefully. Just as the alphabet is fundamental to reading, these ABC’s are crucial to growing in holiness. Take these ABC’s to prayer and see if God might be prompting you to add some different things to your lesson plans.
A: Always be kind, Always put others first and Ask who needs help
B: Be merciful, Be still, and Bite your tongue instead of letting regrettable words slip out
C: Call out to the Lord, Create time for HIM, and Cooperate with His will for your life.
Not only do I need to teach the ABC’s, but I need to demonstrate them as well. Getting back to the basics is always a good idea! My summer prayer is, “Father, get me ready for the work you will ask me to do.”
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.
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