It was about this time a few years ago that I received an e-mail from a disgruntled colleague encouraging everyone to celebrate something known as Angry Teacher’s Month (ATM). I chuckled a little, deleted it, and moved on to my next e-mail, but the afterthoughts of that message loomed. I began to wonder. Why am I a teacher? Am I a teacher because of the two months off over the summer? Or did I become a teacher because I enjoy making a difference in the life of a child? Obviously the latter was my original reason for going back to school to get my secondary certification. Summers off was just an added perk.
Why did you become a teacher? Do you remember your first day in the classroom and how excited you were? How about your first lesson? I remember mine very well. After observing an 8th grade class for a month, I was allowed to teach one lesson. This was before I even student taught. I remember spending so much time prepping the perfect motivation to get the kids intrigued. I wanted my fingerprint to be on those kids forever. Sure, it was just one lesson, but that didn’t matter! I built relationships, I taught that lesson with a passion, and I remember leaving the school fulfilled. I even snapped a picture of the class before I left, and since then the memory of that group of kids was forever engraved in my heart and hopefully theirs as well.
It is this time of year that remembering moments like that is integral to survive. Sometimes that is all that the month of May is about. Surviving! Over half the kids have mentally checked out. Your naughty ones are beginning to haunt your dreams, and even your good ones are beginning to come out of their shells. The constant parade of end of the year field trips are making the kids just that much more giddy for summer, and you begin pulling your hair out–or what’s left of it–as you start looking forward to Memorial Day weekend yourself. There are probably days you just want to crawl under the covers of your bed and just hibernate. Been there, done that.
It’s safe to say that our patience is tested daily, but we do have two choices here. We can choose to give up on the school year, showing meaningless videos to our students and letting them do as they please. Those are the teachers that have the countdown going on. They’ve probably downloaded a new app that appears in the corner of their smartphone, letting them watch the days, hours, minutes, even seconds expire away. Their classrooms reek of apathy. These teachers care very little about the last days with their students; they care only about themselves. They high five one another in the hallway saying things like, “Eight and a half more days!”
Or we can choose to be different. The Christian teacher is a different breed. Instead of wishing away the last few weeks, God says “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2: 15). The Christian teacher utilizes every second of every day to make a difference. They impart wisdom on their students before summer arrives. It’s almost like a parent’s speech to their child before their kid goes off into the real world. They motivate, they inspire, and they encourage. The Christian teacher weeps on the last day of school, knowing their time is up to make a difference.
What will you do with the time you have left? How will your students remember you? Will you be the teacher checking your Facebook page as your students get an extra day of yearbook signing, maybe showing a Bill Nye video that relates to your curriculum about as much as a kindergartner relates to Obamacare? Or will you be the teacher that plans your last few days down to the wire, utilizing every minute to fill your students with all you have left? Christian teachers exhaust themselves, emptying their souls into the young faces looking up at them. Will all of them get it? No. But the ones that do will remember you forever.
Remember that first day you taught? Your first lesson and how excited you were? Take a second to remember why you became a teacher today and let that thought spill into whatever lesson you have set forth. See the difference it makes! Watch the kids savor your passion! We only have but a few days to give these kids all we have left inside. Make it count! Be the type of teacher that cherishes the time you have left. Be different. Be a Christian teacher.