Core scripture: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
Message: The rhythm to 3rd quarter is like a whack-a-mole machine—you never know what will pop up next. Once you think you have the students on your side, a snow day invades. Or Martin Luther King Day. Or President’s Day. Don’t get me wrong; there are pros to this, too! Extra time with family or to do projects or to simply relax with a good book. But the moment you return to work, students’ bad habits return. You feel like you are fighting an uphill climb that never ends, and as testing season looms around the next corner, you might even want to wave the white flag of surrender.
Stand firm! Hold your ground. It ain’t over yet. Or as Paul tells us, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The work a teacher does third quarter is critical to a child’s learning. Know that you are making an impact even when you think your wheels are spinning. Finally, open up your mind to let yourselves into the lives of your students. Who knows … you might find a perspective that will enlighten your understanding.
That brings me to my first point to survive 3rd quarter: be understanding. You never know what routines are set at home. Some students have unlimited screen time. Others live with three other siblings in the same room. Mom or Dad might work two jobs. Sometimes three just to make ends meet. They might be missing meals or in charge of making their own meals. Some get roped into babysitting siblings, growing up too fast. Suddenly reading my literature circle book for homework becomes put on the back burner. That routine is hard to adjust from home to school.
And yet we still wonder why that boy always falls asleep first hour.
Besides being understanding, 3rd quarter calls for constant communication. Do you tell students ahead of time what might happen if a snow day occurs? How do you connect with parents? Do you give directions verbally, digitally, or written on your white board? Our team texts out the homework each day to the parents and students. Students follow our plans on Google Classroom. I try to have written directions on the screen and make the students snap pictures of it with their iPads. You can never communicate enough. Especially with the flow of five-day weeks being interrupted.
Finally, I know it is not easy, but let patience overcome frustration. As the scripture states above, keep hope alive and rejoice in successes. Be tolerant. Communicate with the Lord through prayer. Ask Him the best way to get through to your students. Try to find a way to smile, and get your kids smiling too. You want your classroom to be a safe place where they can look forward to hearing encouragement, building camaraderie, and staying positive. Live out Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Take a deep breath. You will get through this. Believe me, I am telling myself this right now! In less than an hour, my students will be flooding my room fresh off their second four-day weekend in a row. I might be doing jumping jacks with first hour to get their blood pumping. Oh, and they are calling for four inches of snowfall tonight, making tomorrow a likely possibility of our fifth snow day. We must all be assured that God’s omnipotent presence will guide us through it all.
Challenge: A good prayer to meditate on right now is known as the serenity prayer, written below. You may not be able to change the chaos of 3rd quarter; however, you can change the way to react to it. Pray the serenity prayer and calm your heart today.
Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)