Add this essential task to your end-of-school checklist.
By Sheri Wohlfert
The end of the year comes with so many emotions! I often look around at my empty classroom and think of words like relief, exhaustion, sadness, lonely, quiet … and sometimes even worry and regret. As I’m busy trying to pack everything neatly away for easy access in August, I replay the weeks and months that seemed to fly past. I pack up the books and wonder if I was dynamic enough to create life-long lovers of books.
I pack away the markers and art supplies and wonder if I added color, life, and beauty to enough lives. As I pack away the photos of my family that sit on my desk, I wonder if I nurtured the neediest students enough. And as I pack away the crucifix, rosaries, and prayer books we use at Adoration, I wonder if I showed them clearly enough what a disciple of Jesus Christ looks and sounds like.
As I take down the school pictures my students lovingly gave me last fall, I wonder what I’ll keep of them in my heart and I wonder what they will keep of me. The weight of the year can sit pretty heavy in those first few days after they all go home.
I remember the year I had “that class.” They were the ones who were loud and rambunctious and wanted to be just about anywhere but school. They always had their toes to the line, ready to take a step over just to see what would happen. They tested my patience daily; they challenged and argued and debated just about everything put before them and I had so many doubts about the gifts I had given them.
A wise veteran teacher saw me sitting at my empty desk after they had gone for the summer and she shared the words my heart needed to hear. I told her I just wasn’t sure I’d taken them as far as I should have. She smiled and reminded me that God asked me to give them what I could — not what I couldn’t. She reminded me that it wasn’t my job to single-handedly educate them for life.
I realized that God calls us to love, serve and demonstrate. Each class will have a couple dozen teachers in their education career, and each of us is called to give them something different. My colleague reminded me that the greatest gift I can give my students comes after they’ve gone. That is when I hold them in my heart and lift them to the Lord.
This wise teacher, as a part of her morning prayer, asks God to bless and care for each and every student she has ever taught. I might not remember all their faces and names, but I will remember that they are his children and I was given the privilege of sharing a year of their life. I can’t keep them in my classroom, but I can keep them in my heart and remember to lift them up to their Father every day.
As you pack up your classroom for the summer, take some time to write yourself one last teacher “to-do,” reminding yourself to pray for each of your students and trust that God, the Master Teacher will take them from here.
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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