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Empower Your Students


Image result for working for god

Core scripture“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3: 23).

Message: My six-year-old son is a chatterbox.  The little dude never stops talking.  EVER!  Just between you, me, and the blog here, there are times I confess that I am nodding my head, saying, “Yeah … yeah … yeah … uh, huh …” when my focus is totally elsewhere.  Normally it is stuff like, “Daddy!  What if Batman and Joker went to Hy-Vee and saw all the minions’ balloons there in the front.  I think they might fly up in the air if they grabbed one!  They would fly straight up to the ceiling, and then Joker would throw his Joker bombs at Batman, and then Batman would block them all with his batarang, and then Batman would use his utility belt to pull out his bat lasso …”

And then … And then … And then …  Yeah, you get the point.

Well, the other night at dinner, the big guy was on a role.  I am seriously wondering if his future profession might be an auctioneer.  He was going off about his kindergarten class.  “Daddy!  Guess what I got to do today?  My teacher let me be the line leader all the way to computers class, and I got to give my computers teacher the special envelope!”  I smiled at him, remembering the same feeling of being the line leader back in grade school.  Talk about nostalgia!  We’ve all been there, right?  When the teacher gives you a task, you feel special.  You feel needed.  You feel like a big boy!  (Or girl.)  I marveled at how one simple task made my son feel like he was king of the world.

The next day in my class, we were celebrating the end of the quarter with a class party for my 2nd hour.  They had won the Olympics challenge, and plenty of kids had brought in brownies, cookies, chips, and plenty of other sugary deliciousness that probably made 3rd hour teachers loathe me for injecting them with a sugar high that would rival that of a first grader on Halloween night.  The food was set up beautifully on my counter, the kids were chomping at the bit to indulge, and I was truly hoping Michelle Obama didn’t catch wind of the complete lack of healthiness.  There was a slight problem though.  I had to take attendance, get the quiz ready (yes, I was the mean teacher who gave a short quiz on a class party day), and take care of other housekeeping chores—all with no para help in my room.

“Alright, who wants to help me out?” I said, slightly flustered.

About fifteen hands shot up, waving like crazy.  One kid was jumping up and down.  Another tried to hold her seat with her hand but was bobbing like a gopher popping in and out of a hole.  I quickly found the two most reliable kids, kids who more than likely would not spill drinks, to be my waitresses for the day.  They took everyone’s drink orders, pouring their choice of Sprite, Coke, or Root Beer, and it gave me much needed time to wrap up opening class procedures.  The kids loved every second of their party, they all got filled, I saw the sugar high begin to kick in, shooed them out the door, and then apologized to my buddy Jordan 4th hour for sending about 5-6 kids from my class to his class looking like they had just chugged five straight Monster energy drinks.

This moment got me wondering … Do I take advantage of giving my students jobs enough?  Am I working too hard in my class when my kids could be helping out?  What jobs could my kids be doing for me?  How can I empower my students by giving them responsibility?  Today, the second day of second quarter, we are going to sign up for new class jobs.  Every day I think of a new way the kids can contribute to keep my classroom run like a well-oiled machine.  Today, we will have the kids pick from a number of roles that they will soon be taking on, and probably adding a few as well.  Here are the roles that fit what I need from my kids:

  • Door stopper: in charge of plugging the door with the door stop at the end of the hour
  • Dept. of energy: turns off lights for PowerPoints and videos
  • Role taker: in charge of reminding me to take attendance
  • Dept. of collections: helps collect papers
  • Sanitation committee: in charge of keeping class clean
  • Kindness committee: responsible for giving others’ compliments or notes of encouragement
  • Movement specialist: reminds me of when the class needs a movement break (I always encourage the most ADHD kid who can’t sit still to take this one on!)
  • Whiteboard eraser: erases my whiteboard when needed
  • Chair pusher-inner: helps remind kids to push in chairs at the end of class to ensure my room is not an obstacle course of disaster

Maybe you have those kids that just flock to your room like a magnet once the 7:30 am bell rings.  They have 20 minutes of free time before class begins, and they just start chatting you up because your room is a safe place for them.  Who is to say they can’t be useful while you catch up on life?  Have them put the chairs down.  Give them a cutting activity that seems tiresome.  Shoot, be crazy and let them take down your bulletin board and create a new one!  Only if they have artistic flair of course.  Don’t you know that God blesses each kid with a spiritual gift?  “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4: 10-11).

Amen!

Put your kids to work.  They will love you for it!  All for the glory of God—and for the sanity of your classroom.  I wonder if someone out there has a different method or idea on how their students can take on roles.  Would you mind sharing?  Why not suggest to me, to others, to anyone reading this blog your favorite class jobs?  It is simple really.  Go to the bottom here, hit the reply button, and share away!  Let’s make this week’s thought interactive, connecting teachers everywhere across the world.  It is the most fulfilling thing to see hits recently from Canada, Singapore, Philippines, and South Africa.  And one totally random one from Angola!  Whether you know it or not, you are not just empowering students everywhere.  You are empowering teachers everywhere.

Challenge: Put your kids to work!  Assign each class to jobs.  Even let them come up with ideas on how they can help.  Create a document, have the kids sign up, hold them accountable, and watch your classroom begin to operate that much more smoothly.

Song to bring it home: Sorry, guys, I am totally brain dead!  Normally the songs come to me like clockwork.  Today, not so much the case!  But if you want to listen to a cool Christian song that is in my head, go check out For King and Country’s “Priceless.”

Prayer: Lord, let my students flourish in whatever gifted areas You have blessed them with.  May my classroom be a safe place where kids can work freely, displaying their talents, all for the glory of your Kingdom.  Let all of our good deeds shine out for ALL to see so that everyone will praise You, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

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