January through March are great months to educate young adults and children. The next three months bring lesser disruptions and distractions into our classrooms. Teachers and students alike rev up and settle in because the winter months are great time-on-task, time-to-teach months.
Yet, the months of winter bring shorter days and longer periods without sun. Many of those days may be a bit gloomier due to grayer skills and overcast afternoons as snow and rain accompany those months too. If you find this period of the school year becoming a bit more tiring and stressful, there is a good chance that your students are becoming a bit more fatigued and irritable as well. Below are just a few things to consider as you move through the winter months of 2018.
Remain in God’s Word
Attend worship regularly and partake in Holy Communion often. Keep a favorite devotional book at your side. Write a devotion for yourself and your students. Stay engaged as a congregational member.
Share Your Christian Faith
Pray often for your students. Encourage yourself and your students to keep the Cross of Christ the focal point of each day. Be deliberate in your preparation and in your daily instruction to share your Christian faith. Take moments during your instruction to share times in your past where Christ was alive and working in your life, in your teaching, or in the lives of previous students. Personal stories capture the hearts of students and help them reflect on God’s love in a real and personal way.
Reflect On Those Good Moments & Rejoice
Keep a collection of thank you notes, cards, or emails from parents and colleagues. You may even have a note of thanks from a current or previous student. Having a collection of items that expresses appreciation from others for the time, commitment, guidance, and Christian service that you have offered to so many provide a sense of gratitude and inspiration during those more difficult moments. Keeping those comments that are of sentimental value is reenergizing and reinvigorating. Prior to departing for home or possibly upon arriving into your classroom, take that quiet time at the beginning or ending of a day to read that expression of thanks.
Be a Continual Learner
In the beginning of the year, we have new and fresh ideas. Possibly, we had the opportunity to travel some to different places during the months of summer. The months of fall continue to provide opportunity for a bit more professional development through conferences and workshops. But the months of winter may not afford you that opportunity to be a learner. So, encourage yourself to be a learner – being in God’s Word and a professional journal or book. Read a novel for enjoyment.
Stay Passionate for Teaching
Teaching is challenging and may be even more so during this time when we have less interruptions. Some students more so than others may need to be challenged differently. Parental concerns develop and need immediate attention, taking time away from our own families or, in general, preparation time. The tendency is to become a bit more discouraged and consumed with procedures and paperwork – necessary but exhausting work. So, how do we keep that fire alive at this time to be the best teacher possible? Resist teaching in isolation and reach out to a trusted colleague to inspire you. You may even want to invite that colleague into your classroom as a fresh set of eyes and ideas. Have that colleague pray for you and pray for your colleague.
Maintain Your Physical Wellness
Be sure to take time for yourself and your family. Spending quality time with family members at family events and in worship enables oneself to recharge and retool. Give yourself that opportunity to engage in something you enjoy. As you know, teaching young adults and children requires a high level of energy. Investing in some personal time to enjoy a particular hobby, good book, a brisk walk, or family event reduces stress and sharpens the mind.
Give Thanks for Your Christian Vocation
God has tapped you on the shoulder and entrusted you with His most precious gift – His children. What a partnership we have with Him. Readily acknowledge and in front of your students the blessing of your baptism. Readily acknowledge to your students the great gift we have because of Jesus – eternal life. Readily remind your students how important their current preparation in school is for them now and for a life of Christian service in whatever vocation they choose in years to come.
The above mentioned suggestions seem obvious; however, they are often forgotten especially when we get busy or distracted by the day-to-day happenings. Hopefully you will be able to implement all, some or possibly even one of the above mentioned suggestions. And you may even have a few of your own that were not mentioned.
May 2018 be a great year for you and your ministry.
Dr. Jon Mielke