Educators Need Prayer
Written by Caroline Bailey
A pile of receipts. Scattered to-do lists. A growing collection of school supplies in my trunk. Construction paper scraps on the kitchen table. Nights spent tossing and turning (daytimes spent napping). This is what August looks like for a teacher (or maybe that’s just me). The end of summer always brings a whirlwind of emotion—excitement, nervousness, anticipation, fear. This year is no different. However, despite this being my fifth year, it feels a lot like my first. Little is certain about the year ahead, except that no amount of preparation can equip me for what is about to come.
While it feels as if we have been dealing with the effects of COVID for ages (second graders have never experienced a school year without COVID), the pandemic is still presenting us with unprecedented situations. Quite a few of my first graders will never have even stepped foot in a school building before. Despite logging off of their computers, students’ pandemic learning experiences will follow them into classrooms this fall and shape how they view in-person learning.
Teachers standing in the front of those classrooms are facing students with varying abilities and more critical social-emotional needs than ever before. Despite these challenges, it is important to recognize this time for what it truly is—an opportunity to build the “new normal” for education. As I attempt to prepare to enter back into the classroom, I am focusing on Romans 12:12. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Rejoice in hope:
I have often joked that I could never have a “desk job” and the past year revealed that to be true. I never quite realized how much joy I find in spending eight hours a day in a room with 20 children until I was spending days alone in my apartment, only talking to other people through a screen. As we enter the new school year, it is my prayer that educators continue to feel gratitude for the small blessings of our everyday routines.
Furthermore, as we face inevitable challenges, I pray that we can remember our hope is in something bigger than ourselves, our classrooms, and our schools. No matter what happens in the world around us, we can find peace in knowing that our hope and futures rely on Jesus, and that His work is already finished.
Be patient in tribulation:
Speaking of troubles, there are sure to be plenty. No school year (or career) is without challenges. As the Delta variant spreads and COVID cases are once again on the rise, school policies are shifting. Decisions are being made quickly and communication is happening in real-time.
It is in these moments that is critical for us educators to remember that we teach more than academic content. Our students watch us to see how we carry ourselves, how we treat others, and how respond to challenges. It is often tempting to roll our eyes at last minute e-mails or complain with colleagues in hallways during transitions, but these are the moments that students pay the most attention. It is my prayer that in moments of temptation and challenge that I can show both my students and colleagues the fruit from the work the Lord is doing in me--a spirit of peace, patience, kindness, and self-control.
Be constant in prayer:
I will be brutally honest—this is the hardest of the three parts of the verse for me. Yet it is the most critical. It is easy to get swept away in daily routines and the never-ending to do list of teaching, and to forget to thank God for the little joys throughout my day. It is easier to focus my prayers on asking God to help me with that one thing that went wrong than it is to thank Him for the multitude of things that went right. It is easier still to join co-workers in the copy room and complain about late buses and long meetings.
However, as with many things in life, the things that are easy are not always the best for us. Some of my most productive and refreshing planning periods have been the ones where I closed my classroom door, turned off the lights, and prayed. The most rewarding part of those days was the freedom I felt afterwards. Those quiet moments helped refocus my heart and mind on why I began teaching and reminded me that I do it all for the glory of God. That goal brings a contentment that high test scores or the praises of administrators never will.
Please join me in praying for educators this year. Please pray:
· that we can find the small, mundane joys in our school routines
· that the Lord blesses us with a spirit of patience and peace in the turbulent times ahead
· that we turn first to God with both our joys and sorrows
· that we remember we do all of our work for the glory of God and the furtherment of the Kingdom
· that we never forget our hope is in Him and his work is already finished. Hallelujah.