February 18, 2018

How I invite Jesus into my Classroom

The shooting on Wednesday, February 14 has given me a lot of feelings. Feelings of hurt, feelings of even more extra love for my students, and feelings of terrifying reality. I can't help but rely on Jesus in times of terror, in times of sadness, and in times when our nation is shaken to it's core.

One of my favorite hymns sings;

"My hope is built, on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name."

^^ Right now, that's all I can do.

I posted a quote I typed up a few weeks ago that said, "My classroom runs on coffee and the grace of Jesus." In the description of the quote, I wrote how when I extend grace to myself and my students, it shows how they can extend grace to others...

and how we can start to make the world a nicer, kinder, sweeter place - one Kindergartner at a time!

Ever since I posted that quote, I've really considered the other ways that I invite Jesus into my classroom.

To clarify:

  • Yes, I'm a teacher who follows Jesus - and more specifically, a Mennonite! 
  • Yes, I teach at a public school and...
  • no, we don't talk about Jesus there - and I don't mind one bit!

Because in my experience, inviting Jesus into places and spaces is more about my actions than my words. He is in my classroom daily and I don't even have to mention His name.

I really thought about the opportunity that I am presented to invite Jesus into my classroom each day. I thought about the way that being a follower of Jesus has changed the way that I teach, interact, guide, and love on my students.

I can tell you one thing - without Jesus, I would definitely be less patient and less understanding. I wouldn't be as caring or as reflective. I wouldn't be so concerned with their well-being outside of the classroom. I'm not saying you can't be these things without Jesus, but I will say He is the defining factor in my teacherhood life that helps me, on the daily!

Here a few ways in which you too can invite Jesus into your Classroom.

1. Pray for your students - The coolest thing about Jesus is that HE IS EVERYWHERE. He knows when I'm talking to him or what my thoughts are. I send up prayers like nobody's business - super informal, sometimes just a glance towards my ceiling, sometimes within the middle of a hug. Nobody know's I'm praying, sometimes I just whisper a child's name. But I am praying for my kiddos.

2. Go the extra mile - go farther with each student! Check in, establish relationships with them and with their families. Make sure they are getting food to eat and clothes to wear. Do what you can to love them in all aspects, even outside the classroom. Extend the service and love of Jesus to them through acts

3. Emphasize empathy - something I make a priority in my classroom is empathy. We celebrate when there is cause for celebration with claps and cheering and hip hip hoorays! We love on others when they've lost grandparents or when they just plain feel sad. We have worked and learned and trained each other on how to be kind, be caring, and how to FEEL for others. These qualities established at 5 will surely go with them. They are learning to care, to rely on each other, and to be there for each other.

4. Forgive and Forget - this is a policy in my classroom! When students make weak choices, we talk about them, we forgive, and we move on. You can do it too! I never let something from yesterday enter today or tomorrow. I never remind them of what they've done wrong. It is in the past and their slate is wiped clean. Jesus gives us a brand new start each morning, I can do the same for my five year old friends.

5. Conversation in Conflict - I always found it almost funny how Jesus conversed in the middle of heated arguments....until I realized, he had it right. Have your students talk in the middle of something that might be upsetting them. Instead of tattling, have a space where they can go share their feelings. In the end, they enjoy being the ones to fix their problem, rather than asking an adult. No feelings are hurt, no one is "in trouble". Conflict happens, disagreements occur - WE ARE HUMAN. But how we handle those conflicts is how we learn to handle anything that comes our way.

6. Everyone comes to the table - everyone is welcome, everyone is invited, everyone plays. No one is refused, no one is turned away. If the game is "full" and someone else wants to join, we find a different game where everyone can play. The spirit of inclusion is not new to my classroom. Everyone comes to the table, literally, because typically I have 20 kids around my tiny table interested in something I'm doing.

7. Joy - inexplicable joy. Joy is my word of 2018. I've been finding it, searching for it, being given it in so many ways this year! But Jesus has always been a constant source of Joy. He gives us joy for each day, each week, and each year. My students think of me as "happy" and I hope that continues. I hope to sprinkle some Joy on them each day.

While I can't talk about Jesus with my students or teach them about Jesus, I can only hope these tiny seeds of Jesus-like qualities will stick with them, will be planted and nourished, and will grow into something bigger and greater than I can ever imagine.

I don't like being scared when I go to school. I don't like the overwhelming feelings of hearing the fire alarm bell go off for a fire drill.

But just like the good and regular school days, even on those scary days, Jesus is there. He's in my room. He's in my heart. and He's right there holding me, guiding me, and loving me through.

I felt called to be a teacher, I still feel called to be a teacher. I know that God gave me a heart for children for a purpose. I will show them Jesus as best I can in my actions, my words, and my love for them.

Happy SUNDAY, teacher friends. May your day, your week, and your school year be filled with coffee, the grace of Jesus, His unending love, and a bucket of patience as you learn with, love on, and teacher your little friends.

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