As I have mentioned before, I teach music and art to 700 students from Kindergarten through 5th grade at an elementary school. Last year was my first year in this position and I spent several weeks of last summer moving all of my stuff into my new classroom on the other side of our school campus. Actually, The Boy helped me move – unwillingly and begrudgingly – as did Michael with occasional assistance from The Redhead. It was only occasional because I couldn’t take the whining. I just couldn’t.
The move took a long time because I had been in the same classroom for 8 years and had accumulated a lot of junk! I’m sure our custodial staff just loved the fact that every single time they walked through, there was another huge garbage bag or box full of stuff for the dumpster! They also had to move all of the heavy furniture (Don’t worry. I brought them McDonald’s and homemade treats every chance I got!). I spent most of the past school year tweaking my classroom – moving things here and there to maximize space.
Imagine my delight when I was informed at the end of the school year that I would be moving again!
The Boy was even more thrilled.
We moved all of the small stuff and boxes and crates and then I sweet-talked one of our custodians into moving all the big furniture and file cabinets. Michael was able to come on my last day of moving and he and The Boy helped me get everything out of my old classroom and into the new one.
Seven teachers at my school “relocated” over the summer. Some moved to different rooms (like me), some retired, and some moved to other schools. The process of packing up and moving a classroom is overwhelming and monotonous and maddening. The teacher who was vacating my classroom had no place to put her stuff, so I had no place to put my stuff until things got moving.
That finally happened this week, praise God.
I went to the school on Monday to begin the massive task of organizing my room. I took The Redhead and one of her friends, hoping I could use them for slave labor. When I walked into the room, I was overwhelmed by the landfill that now occupies the left-hand side of the classroom. It’s all of my supplies and stuff that have been piled up until I can organize and put it away. It’s a pile that is twelve feet long and five feet high.
I got the girls to put away all of the paint.
And then I decided I just can’t do it yet. I will go back alone and get it done. That way, when I get overwhelmed, I can close my classroom door and scream. Or cry. Or both. Simultaneously.
But after all of the paint has been put away – because I’m a control freak and I won’t leave it where the girls put it – and I’ve arranged the big white tables and all the chairs. After I finish the bulletin boards and make sure the projector is in the right place for all the kids to see my step-by-step drawing instructions and I’ve placed all of the classroom instruments in places where the kindergarten classes won’t see them until the day we use them – because otherwise I will hear, “Mrs Pate, when can we play the drums?” thirteen thousand times until I can’t take it anymore!
After all of that, I will do what I do every year before school starts.
I will pray.
Because as hard as some people fight to keep God out of our schools, I don’t think I could survive if He were banished from my classroom. I teach in a public school, so I don’t get to really talk about God to my students. But I can show them who God is by who I am.
I’m very specific when I pray, because one of my favorite verses is James 4:2. In part, it says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”
So I’m asking God to bless, not just my classroom, but all classrooms. Because we need Him.
If you’re so inclined, I’d love for you to pray with me.
The doors. Please pray that the children who enter the doors of my classroom will feel welcome, safe, and loved. Please pray that the darkness of negativity and self-doubt will be left outside our doors and that each child will be able to focus on learning.
The desks. Please pray that these little desks will be true centers of discovery for the children who sit at them. Pray that the desks or tables will be arranged in a way that is beneficial to the children – so that everyone can see and hear and behave.
The walls. Please pray that my classroom, from corner to corner, will be filled with God’s presence. The children I teach come from many different ethnicities and beliefs, but I know that God’s love transcends all. I want His love to wash over my classroom each day, bathing us all in His presence.
My students. Please pray for my kids. I would love to believe that each of them goes home to a picture-perfect family, full of love and support and a nurturing environment. But that isn’t always the case. There are kids with no furniture in their homes. There is no electricity. There are children who hungrily gulp down the free breakfast and lunch at school because there is no food in their homes. There are children who never get hugs or kisses or kind words. There are children who never hear English at home, and yet, they are expected to speak, understand, and use it in the classroom. There are children whose lives I could never survive – and yet, they are expected to come to school and LEARN! Please pray that my classroom will be a safe haven for them.
Their parents. Please pray that the parents of these children will partner with me to educate their children. Please pray that they will trust me and know that I love their children and want what is best for them.
Me. Please pray that I will be sensitive to the needs of each child. Teachers are with these children more waking hours of the day than their parents. During the day, we are responsible for so much more than the subjects we teach. In addition to math, reading, English, spelling, science, and social studies, we must also teach morals, manners, self-discipline, respect, and compassion. These we must teach through example. Please pray that I will be mindful of the many pairs of eyes that are watching and needing me to be the best person that I can be. Please pray that the love of God will perfume my words, my touch, and my actions. Yes, I want them to learn to read confidently, to add and subtract with regrouping, to learn the directions on a map, to sing confidently with their peers, to express themselves artistically – but more than that, I want them to learn to be good people. I want them to care more about others than about themselves. I want them to grow up to be self-sufficient, hard-working, successful adults – and I want them to come to know God. Please pray that I will take every opportunity to plant the seeds of His love.
I hope that you and your kids have a great school year! God bless!