The day has arrived. Summer break has officially ended and teachers have been busy preparing for the arrival of their students for this school year. Tomorrow students will file into schools with great expectancy for all that this year holds for them.
Students and parents may never know the countless hours that teachers (along with their spouses and closest friends) spend in preparation for tomorrow. They may never understand all of the decisions that were made surrounding just one bulletin board. They may never appreciate all of the personal sacrifices of your time and your own money that you have made to ensure that this year is great for your students.
You certainly didn’t choose this profession to receive recognition. The long days and even longer evenings grading papers and updating class websites and such wouldn’t create a long line of folks choosing to become educators. Instead, you chose to teach because you decided to make a difference.
On my side of things as a teacher’s spouse, I believe you need to know that you make more of a difference than you know. The excitement of the first several days will wear off rather quickly, but your enthusiasm in choosing to invest in the lives of students shouldn't plateau this week. Even through your weariness in making sure that every demand asked of you is met with excellence, your motivation isn’t going to be found in test scores or the latest curriculum. Your motivation is found in the sweet faces in your classroom.
Your unnoticed efforts are all made well worth it when a student truly knows how much you care for them. The Lord has entrusted you with little lives to minister to through your teaching. I am well aware of the laws that prevent you as Christ-believing teachers from overtly explaining why you teach and serve in the manner you do. However, students are paying attention, and they see the difference of Christ in you.
Each student that enters your room has their own story. We’d like to believe that each child you encounter is well loved and well cared for, but sadly we know that’s just not the case. Your kind words of encouragement may be the only positive affirmation that a student hears. Your belief in their ability to succeed could possibly be the only support that they receive.
This school year will certainly come with its own set of challenges, but cling to this: the Lord has given you each student, and even the difficult parents/guardians, because He trusts you with them. He trusts you to stand in the gap for the students who have no one else to fight for them. He trusts you to minister to the discouraged parents who are at their wits end. He trusts you to reassure a student who has experienced more hardship than any child should that not all adults cause harm. He trusts you to carry out your 180 days of the school year with excellence, because that’s what He has called you to do (Colossians 3:23).
When the demands of leadership and the school district seem to be too much because you just want to teach instead of spending valuable hours on paperwork, remember the reason you chose this profession: the students.
Your attitude will shape their attitude about learning. Your mission to love them and serve them through teaching has the ability to change their mindset. Your investment in their lives will cause them to believe they are valuable, despite what they may be told outside of the four walls of your classroom.
It’s your classroom, and over this school year, your words and actions will determine the type of legacy it will leave in the lives of each student who enters. I pray that you understand the difference you make stems from the difference the Christ has made in your life.
Here’s to a wonderful school year!