How To Make 2016 The Best Year Ever! Part 4/4

It’s been an exciting 4 weeks sharing this series on the blog!  Although we are arriving at the end, we still have 11 months ahead to put it into action!  Praise the Lord and amen! We teachers have a big assignment (although ALL Christians do) and God gives us the directions (like we do for our students) to make an A.  So before we get started, let’s do a quick review of the first three steps of How To Make 2016 The Best Year Ever.  I believe the Lord smiles when He sees us… 

1  – Loving Him  –

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2 – Loving Others –

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and 3 – Sharing Jesus !

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Number 4 is one of the pillars of the Church, and that is (drum roll please)…

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Jesus’ last command before He ascended to heaven was for us to do just this.

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The question then becomes:  Are we doing what He told us to do?  Perhaps we also need a reminder about just what a disciple is.  Dictionary.com defines the word disciple the following way(s):

1. Religion.
  1. one of the 12 personal followers of Christ.
  2. one of the 70 followers sent forth by Christ. Luke 10:1.
  3. any other professed follower of Christ in His lifetime.
2.  any follower of Christ.
3.  a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another;  follower

This is kind of tricky in public schools this day and time with all the Christian persecution taking place, but don’t distress, dear teachers!  We can remedy this situation by…

  • Building strong relationships with our students.  This takes time and energy, but it is the #1 way to get this accomplished.  Jesus’ relationships with His disciples are proof that if we want to disciple someone, we have to dedicate the time. After all, he spent 3 1/2 years building those relationships.

  • Putting steps 1-3 of this series into action with our students.  We are well on our way to making disciples when we complete these steps on a daily basis.

  • Sponsoring a Christian club.  Do you sponsor one? If not, why not?

  • Utilizing social media. I know some teachers don’t like to accept friend requests on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., but for the greater good, which is to make disciples, I always accept their requests.  Can students (or anyone for that matter) tell we are a Christian by what we post on social media?

  • Remembering to follow our Lord’s example.  Jesus served others and lived a holy life.  Are we serving our students?  Are we living a holy life? Are we imitating Him? (Ephesians 5:1)

Making disciples is worth every bit of the effort we put into it, and is one of the most rewarding experiences of being a Christian for sure.  We should be all about it, teachers!

Well, there you have it! Four ways to make 2016 the best year ever –  Love God, Love Others, Share Jesus, and Make Disciples!  Now how bout’ let’s git’ er’ done!!!!!!!!!

God bless, and I’m praying 2016 will be the best year ever for you in your classroom, dear Christian teachers!  I will see you next week here at Devotions for Teachers. 

 

10 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Editor’s note:  Our regular devotions will resume next week.  However, this week I want to give a voice to what I believe a lot of teachers are thinking….

Teaching is a dichotomy at times – exhilarating and exhausting, happy and sad, fun and boring (testing, ugh), rewarding yet frustrating.  The emotional wear and tear can be taxing on teachers.  One day we’re like “Wow, it can’t get any better than this!” But then, the next day rolls around and BOOM, it’s “Wow, this day was a bust!”

I hope sharing my wish list of the 10 things I wish parents knew will help in spreading the word about the thought life of teachers and that the knowledge gleaned from it will perhaps assist parents in helping their kids’ teachers enjoy a more productive experience in the classroom educating their children.

     Wish #1 – We wish you knew we have the best interest of your child at heart.

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In a recent survey of teachers, 80% of teachers stated they went into teaching because they love working with children and 75% said they wanted to make a difference.   Conversations with my peers correspond with the results of this survey.  Parents, please rest in the assurance that we love your kids and want what is best for them.

Wish #2 –  We wish you knew that because we love your children, we discipline them as any good parent would do.

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This picture says it all.  Look how miserable the students are who are behaving and trying to learn.  It only takes one or two mischievous or disruptive students for the above scenario to play out.  It’s frustrating for both students and teachers. Therefore, we don’t discipline your child because we don’t like them, we discipline them so that they, as well as other students, can learn.

Wish #3 – We wish you knew we want you to please, please, please be more involved in your child’s education.

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The more you are involved, the more successful your child will be in school. It’s that simple, but it’s oh, so important!  Ask them about their day.  Ask them what they made on that math test.  Ask them what tonight’s homework assignment is.  Be sure to look up their grades on Powerschool.  Sometimes you won’t get the complete story parents! (Just sayin’)  Also, it’s a good idea to check out both the school’s and teacher’s websites, and resource links or apps.

Wish #4 – We wish you knew we need encouragement from time to time.

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Everybody needs encouragement from time to time – a thank you or pat on the back – but someone has to take the time to actually convey the message.  I’m sure there have been many times when parents or students thought this, but they didn’t follow through and state it or write it down. I love to open my e-mail inbox and read a message from a parent saying, “My kid loves your class!” or “You are doing a good job!”  What’s even better is when you cc our principal! :)  Teaching is tough, and sometimes an encouraging word is what’s needed to get us through the day.

Wish #5 – We wish you knew we appreciate the benefit of the doubt.

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It’s discouraging when a student goes home and gives their account of something that happened in class, whether between them and a teacher or them and another student, but doesn’t tell both sides. A lot of times this causes unnecessary strife and bad feelings. Parents who lash out at their children’s teachers only make matters worse.  I’ve seen students from time to time that don’t tell the whole story, and their parents buy it hook, line, and sinker.  Teachers are not perfect, but we are adults and professionals. Giving teachers the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps waiting 24 hours to cool down and really think things through, is the best approach instead of burning bridges.

Wish #6 – We wish you knew that when your child is absent (other than when they are really sick), it’s hard to educate them.

Don’t get me wrong, I know children get sick from time to time, and those are not the ones I’m talking about here. I’m addressing those children who lay out of school because they act as if they are sick to get out of going to school!  I would estimate this occurs with about 1 or 2 students in class everyday.  I’m sure the percentage is greater than this depending upon the school system students are attending.

I’ve seen a student who had been out of school a couple of days playing basketball at our area recreation gym on one of those said days!  My oh my, that’s not good!  Not only do they miss important information, but that’s exactly what they will do when they’re adults in the working world.  That behavior won’t lead to success.

Rule of thumb:  If they aren’t bleeding, if they don’t have a bone sticking out, if they aren’t throwing up, or don’t have a fever, then send them to school!

Wish #7 – When a child doesn’t do well on an assignment or test, the world won’t end!

There will be chances to bring that grade up and sometimes, through failure, life lessons are learned better. Just take a deep breath and don’t let it rattle you.  (I wish I had known this one a little earlier in life when my children were younger!)

Wish #8 – We wish you knew how much we appreciate it when you replenish your child’s school supplies at least once every 3 or 4 weeks…  

…your children do too!

Wish #9 – We wish you knew that helicopter parenting stresses out your child (if you are one, that is).

Not only does it stress them out, it probably stresses out fellow family members, and for sure it stresses your child’s teachers.  Listen, children make mistakes, and I’ve seen helicopter children over the years who will try to dig themselves out of a ditch they’ve dug for themselves by blaming their teacher when they were the ones who totally blew it. The reason they do so is because they understand, and are well aware, the helicopter is about to crash and burn, so better to blame the teacher than to suffer personal injuries.

Teach them, love them, but don’t hover! Hovering is smothering, love rises above!

Wish #10 – We wish parents knew that more than anything, we want your child to succeed!

When your child succeeds, all of us succeed.  There’s nothing better than knowing that we contributed to the success of your children and our students.  Hands down, it is the best part of being a teacher!  That’s making a difference.  That’s making the world a better place.  Thank you for helping us help them!

 

How To Make 2016 the Best Year Ever! Part 3

We now arrive at part 3 on our journey towards making 2016 the best year ever.  Before introducing it, let’s take a look back at steps 1 and 2…

What do you believe He could be more passionate about than love?  My personal opinion is that the heartbeat of God is for us to (unveil step #3) SHARE JESUS.  After all, if we love Him and love others, then it’s only logical that we will share Jesus with the world, right?!

The question then becomes a most important one, because after all, we are teachers in (I hate to say it) the Godless institution of public, government run schools.  So here’s the question:  Just how do you share Jesus in the classroom?  Matthew 5 is God’s answer to this pickle of a question!

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It would be remiss of me to only quote this one verse as the whole chapter itself addresses just how we can share Him not only in the classroom, but life in general.  In order to keep the blog post a reasonable length though, I am going to focus on Matthew 5:1-16.  I want to encourage you to read the whole chapter as it helps us all to step it up a notch when it comes to sharing Jesus.

Matthew 5 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Sermon on the Mount

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b]they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The beatitudes show us how to be in our attitudes.  Does our general outlook on life reflect Christ?  Does our behavior, permeating from our attitude, reflect the behavior of Christ?  People can tell.  Our students can tell!

Therefore, perhaps we should perform a quick exercise examining ourselves and our attitudes. On a scale from 1-10, let’s rate ourselves on each of Jesus’ admonitions from verses 3-10 one at a time…

  • Am I poor in spirit?

  • Do I mourn?

  • Am I meek?

  • Do I hunger and thirst for righteousness?

  • Am I merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker?  

  • Am I persecuted for righteousness sake, just like Jesus was and still is to this day?

Our attitude and behavior is the light that shines in verse 16.  Thus, we are sharing Jesus when we put our feet to Matthew 5, and, I might add, sharing it brightly before our students!  Gotta love it!  Praise the Lord!

I have one other quick suggestion before closing the blog post for today.  When we are scurrying about in our day to day lives, one way to share Jesus whenever we see someone in need, whatever it may be, is just by asking them a simple question like this:  “Pardon me, I noticed you are having a hard time (or you look like you need a little help – whatever the situation calls for) and I’m a Christian, is there something I can help you with?”  This question/statement gives us an open door to witness for Christ whether they say yes or no.  If they say yes, then usually a short conversation ensues, and they are therefore open to what we have to say.  If they say no, we can just encourage them with the simple statement “Ok, God loves you!” or “Ok, God bless you!”

Next week we will take a look at the final step in making 2016 the best year ever. Until then, love God, love others, and share Jesus!  God bless you and stay devoted to Him. You will be a more excellent teacher for it.

How to Make 2016 the Best Year Ever! Part 2

 

Last week, step #1 on our quest in making 2016 the best year ever was presented here on the blog at Devotions for Teachers.  It’s not a magic formula per say, but I like to think of it as God’s formula for success.  As a review, step #1 is to love God. Question:  Who can go wrong loving Him?  Answer:  Nobody!

I now present to you step #2:  Love Others.  

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I have to say, I love it when Jesus Himself speaks on a subject, and that’s exactly what He does in Matthew 22: 37-39.  So the logical question now arises:  Who is our neighbor? Jesus answers this very same question Himself in Luke 10: 29-37…

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Basically, our neighbor is anyone who needs our help to whom we can show mercy. Wow!  We as teachers have plenty of neighbors in our classrooms everyday, don’t we?! :)  Goodness, we have more opportunity each and every day to love others than most folks in other professions.  Don’t ever lose sight of that fact, dear Christian teachers. Teaching is a special assignment from God.

I came across this poster recently that I would like to pass on to you.  It gives practical ways to love others.  Let’s put these into practice in both our professional and personal lives and make 2016 the best year ever.

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Next week, we will take a look at step #3.  Until then, love God, love others, and stay devoted to God.  You will be a more excellent teacher for it!

 

 

 

How to make 2016 the best year ever!… Part 1

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Question of the day:  Is there a secret formula for success in our classrooms –  or in any career as far as that’s concerned?  Our loving heavenly Father graciously shouts the answer to this question in a collective amount of ways, but primarily though His word, and it’s a resounding YES!  However, we have to remember that our version of success and His version of success may differ somewhat.  I tell my students that a successful life is not one where we end up a millionaire (although that could happen and it would be nice!), but a successful life – a happy, good life – is the result of living a purpose driven life, fulfilling our dreams by working hard and doing the right thing.  

As was the case a couple of weeks ago, our pastor, John Lemmings, preached yet another wonderful message, and it’s title was the question to this week’s blog post. So once again, I am paying it forward and tweaking it just a smidgen for teachers.  Are you ready?! Drum roll please….

The first step to a successful 2016 is to… LOVE GOD.  

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Now that we know the first step to success is to love God, how exactly do we do that? Well, I believe the answer is found in fixing our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith, which is none other than Jesus Himself (Hebrews 12:2).

In my Sunday School class, we’ve been completing a study of Ron Dunn’s wonderful book called Faith Crisis.  If our eyes are not focused on the object of our faith (Jesus) we will simply not succeed in our Christian walk.  Period.  Our pastor also reminds us to GAZE at Jesus, and GLANCE at our problems.  We get this turned around most of the time by gazing at our problems and glancing at our Jesus.  Sad but true isn’t it?

My challenge then this week is for you and I to FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS.  GAZE AT HIM, don’t just give him a glance.  Yes, we will have problems in our classrooms, and they deserve a glance, but Jesus deserves our gaze, indeed, our whole heart as our scripture states today.  He said it, because He knows we will have the victory – the success – if we love Him and put Him first.  AMEN!

God bless you in your classrooms this week, dear Christian teachers!  Complete the challenge and you will be a more excellent teacher for it, no doubt. :)  I will share step 2 next week.  Until then, love Him.

How do you want to pop?

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In my 7th grade Career Discovery classes, we have a lesson about the decision making process, and it begins with The Parable of the Popcorn.  I always reflect on my walk with the Lord when I read the parable to my students.

Since it causes me to reflect, I thought it would for you as well, because it’s a big deal how you end up “popping” for the Lord God Almighty.  So without further ado, here is The Parable of the Popcorn

Good isn’t it? :)

I also want to share a video blog about working and improving I posted a while back where I concluded with the parable as well.  If you’ve got the time to watch please do!

Let’s work hard for the Lord in 2016 dear Christian teachers.  My challenge and prayer for you is to pop like you’ve never popped before! Happy New Year, and may God bless you richly in and out of your classrooms this year. Stay devoted!

God With Us, God In Us, God For Us

Think about that title… Truly if we meditate on it even for just a little while, it will deepen our faith in Him.

Our pastor, John Lemmings, preached a message on that subject last Sunday.  It was a Christmas gift wrapped in glittery red paper, beautiful green ribbon, and a tag with my name on it!  And I’m gonna pay it forward, albeit this is the condensed version tweaked for teachers of course.

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Matthew 1:23  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

God is WITH us always.  He’s in our classroom every single minute of every single day. He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Deuteronomy 31:6)  When things are going good, He’s with us. When things are not going good He’s with us. Selah! (Stop and think about that a minute!) Therefore, remember He’s with you when your days and your students are challenging.  Call on Him, because He’s with you, dear teachers.

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Not only is God with us, He’s IN us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Wow! The Spirit guides us as we teach our students, comforts us when we are feeling down, and helps us to love the unlovable… not that we ever have an unlovable student in our classroom. ;) AMEN! Thank you Jesus!

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Finally, God is FOR us!

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The object of our faith is not faith itself, it’s Almighty God… and God Almighty, the Ruler of the Universe, is FOR us!  (Insert happy dance!) He’s the most enthusiastic cheerleader we could ever want or imagine. Why?…Because He pours out a grand and glorious everlasting love upon us.  We are the object of His affection.

God is WITH us, God is IN us, and God is FOR us!  Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving. Thank you Lord!

God bless you dear teachers! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Devotions for Teachers will resume in January 2016.

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