This past month of school has been a very stressful time to be a teacher. Time seemed to be ticking by slowly but at other times it seemed to move quickly as anticipation, preparation and motivation were present in abundance as we geared up for state testing this past week.  Each day marked a frenzied flurry of information throwing and gathering by teachers and students as final preparations were completed for these high stakes tests. My perspective was one of anxiousness, full throttle stress and constant questioning that sounded like this “will we ever be ready for these tests?” Every moment I was living in a “Me” time warp until I realized that this wasn’t about me at all. How were my students feeling and was my anxiety being thrust on them unfairly? In the midst of the mess of the stress, I needed to realize that this test was not just about me and my performance rating as a teacher, but more importantly it was about the 25 third graders that sat before me each day. Their struggles, challenges and willingness to be patient with me through this past month, inspite of my crazy, over the top teaching style taught me some valuable lessons.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net-Arvind Balarman

These are the lessons that my third graders taught me when I finally took a deep breath and noticed the eight and nine year olds staring at me intently…

1. A teacher’s anxiety is nothing compared to the churning going on inside the stomachs of eight and nine year olds

2.  If the teacher takes a moment to let go of some stress, the students will exhale an audible release of stress too

3.  if you smile, the third graders will smile but if you wrinkle your brow in worry, you will see the same look reflected back at you

4.  If the teacher shows a caring attitude and extends this toward her students, it will grow the students’ ability to let go of their anxiety and focus on doing their best

5. If a teacher’s words are used for building instead of undermining, the interaction that evolves will be one of community

As adults, we need to be grace-giving with our words, our acceptance and our forgiveness. When we are faced with trials, we need to remember that we were not given them as a burden but as a way to learn more intimately who we are in Christ. The trials are not a “me” situation but a “we” proposition that God hands us to help us learn perseverance. Adults, whether we are teachers in a classroom, parents, mentors or those who interact with children often, need to notice how our actions, words, and emotions can affect those kids. We need to step back from accomplishing our agendas and include the challenges of those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Wendy Blight, the author of the Bible study “Living So That”,  shared some words that sum up these thoughts perfectly. “God knows us inside and out and always has our best interests at heart, just as loving, caring parents (or teachers-my words) have a child’s best interests at heart. God allows trials for many reasons. Sometimes He needs to refine us to make us more like Him. Sometimes He seeks to strengthen our faith. And sometimes another person may need to see Christ’s character demonstrated in us in order to grow his or her own faith. One promise of which we can be certain… when we respond to trials with faith and trust, God will use our suffering for good, and it will point people to God and bring glory to Him.”p. 152

God tells us in James 1:2-4 to…Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance may finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James1-2-4 To all my readers- I am so thankful for all of you today. I rejoice that God’s love and strength grace my everyday life and continues to pick up the pieces of my messy life. Through it all, He continues to teach me important lessons to grow me closer to Him.

What lessons has God taught you recently and how has that impacted your journey with Christ?

Blessings, Mary

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