I LOVE the first day of school. Everything is new. Fresh. You can change anything that didn’t work from the previous year and mold the kids the right way. Old faces pop into your room to say hi. All the kids are looking dapper in their back-to-school clothes, the teachers are rejuvenated from summer, and nobody is cranky yet. New faces emerge in class. New ideas spark interest. New spirit dwells within. I don’t care how long you have taught, there is just something about the first day that puts a smile on about everyone’s face. I am looking forward to that first day, chomping at the bit to begin, yet there is one word standing in the way come Wednesday: Inservice.
Talk about deflating the balloon. One week of meetings and classroom prep time. One week of building up to that first day. It reminds me of the circus of events leading up to the Super Bowl. I mean you can only take so much before you say On with the show! Game time, baby! Most teachers crave that prep time; it is the meetings that have a tendency to suck the life out of you. Especially if you have taught for a long while and you could practically mouth the words of each speaker as they present material you already know. Still, although teachers may be tempted to dismiss inservice presentations, the Christian teacher rises above.
God’s Word says this: “Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.” When I ran across this scripture in Bible study a few weeks ago, I marked it. It was the perfect inservice verse on multiple levels. So many nuggets packed together! I knew I had to dissect it, tear it apart. Dive fully into it to apply it to what we as teachers will be going through that first week back. Here goes nothing.
First, we are called to “submit to the government and its officers,” also known as our administration. For me, this is easy. I have the utmost respect for all three administrators in my building and admire them greatly. But even if it were not that way, God still wants me to submit. If your administrator wants you to try something new this year that sounds tedious, you still submit. Submitting means listening to them. Paying attention and putting your technology aside in favor of paying attention. Take notes. Lean forward. Ignore the colleague next to you trying to whisper about where to go to lunch. Follow through with whatever they want you to do. Just submit.
We are likewise called to be “obedient, always willing to do what it good,” not slandering anyone and avoiding quarreling. Be leery of what you say behind closed doors. About students. About colleagues. Obviously about your administration. You may not agree with everyone, but be respectful. Romans 12:18 reminds us to “live at peace with all men.” You will always have your differences, but as the closure of the verse reminds us, be gentle. Be humble. Show reverence to everyone. Know that you can disagree while remaining respectful. Others will see that, but even if they don’t, God most certainly does.
Suck it up that fist week back. Try to find enjoyment in the professional days provided by your school’s administration and BLT. At the very least you might score a free breakfast or lunch or at least a free water bottle to guzzle down. Just keep that caffeine handy in the afternoons—for me that is between 1-3 when I am truly “meetinged out” and walking around like a zombie—and try a clever trick I learned a few years back: stand up. That’s right. Take notes during meetings standing up on the sides if possible. It benefits you three ways in that you get to avoid the hard library chairs, you stay awake, and you actually look important to the newbies around, as if you are something big!
You know what? I take that back. You are something big. Every Christian teacher is who rises above temptation. Paul reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Find that escape. Do what is good this week. Be productive in your down time. Build relationships with new faculty members. Be that humble, hard-working Christian teacher that God wants you to be during professional days. As a matter of fact, be just that. Be professional.
Father, I pray for focus, respectful attitudes, and humility during the first week of inservice. Help me fight temptation by doing what is good in Your eyes. Allow me to use my time productively to work energetically for You. Amen.