Core scripture: “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)
Message: You were born to teach! You look forward to that first day of school like a preschooler on Christmas morning. It is a fresh start. Something new. One more year to impact youth on a personal level, to teach them something worthwhile that might stick. The fire inside you rages, yet there is one word that has the potential to douse those flames to nothing.
Let’s be honest here. Sitting through a week of meetings, hearing about school improvement plans, and listening to speakers drone on about the new politically correct district initiative is not high on my list of wants this time of year. But I make the best of it. Four days down; two to go. Each day, each session is a different obstacle to overcome. Think of inservice like a Ninja Warrior course. Navigating it may be strenuous, but the prize of that first day awaits!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you five tips on how to become an inservice ninja.
- Stay positive. Philippians 2:14 tells us to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” What do you hear most that first week back? The worldly teacher will complain. Summer wasn’t long enough. I about fell asleep in that presentation. Yeah, you’ve heard it all. Let your complaints evaporate. Like Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Imitate your favorite smiley emoji face!
- Resist temptation. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us the truth. The devil is out there, lurking, and he will devour you whole if you don’t take precaution. Put your phone away. Work on lessons when you are given time. Check e-mail during down time on your device. Pour that second or third cup of coffee. “Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
- Work hard. I was blessed with an entire morning to work in my room yesterday. Was I tempted to talk to friends? Maybe promote my prayer group to new teachers? Sure! But I camped out at my desk. I rocked my first two weeks of plans, tweaking a few activities from years past, adding a few new things as well. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).
- Greet new teachers. I have yet to have a conversation with all seven of the new teachers in my building. That is unacceptable. Study the new staff bios. Sit with them during inservice. Try not to appear too cliquey. Get out of your comfort zone. Strike up conversations during down time. Make the newbies feel like family, and if you happen to be a newbie, just take the advice of Paul and do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).
- Pay attention. The definition of irony can be explained by the worldly teacher that expects students to pay attention during class but when they are forced to sit through an inservice, they text their friends the entire time. Take notes over presenters. Lean forward. Nod your head. Politely redirect colleagues that are talking. Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Know the difference.
Have I failed at all this past week? You betcha! One of my summer highlights was joining the 21st Century and getting a smartphone! (As my brother texted me, slowly clapping for you, Clint.) What was I doing in the middle of that exhausting presentation on the second day? Texting. Very slowly I might add. Sure, it was for FCA, but I was lucky the speaker was on a video screen. Can you imagine what he would have thought had he seen me in person?
I may not be perfect, but I take my defeats and press on. I press on toward the prize. It is nearly upon me. Two days from now I will be at the starting line, getting ready for the sound of the gun. This Nina Warrior athlete is ready for the newest obstacle! “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
It is time. Ready yourselves for temptation. Pull out your sword to slay the dragon that is inservice. Sneak up on it and grab its neck, snapping it dead before you. Okay, that was quite graphic, but you get the point. Be a Christian teacher today.
Be an inservice ninja!
Challenge: Do you possess any of your own clever tips for inservice? I would not mind you sharing them below in a reply! Lord knows I need the help the next two days.
Just for fun: I saw this video over the summer and loved the laughs.
Prayer: Father, help me be watchful that first week of school. Use me to bless others and gain as much as I can before the prize of the first day. Amen.
(Disclaimer … To all those who have already presented at inservice in my building. You guys rock! I have actually somewhat enjoyed the past week’s festivities, and you all are doing a wonderful job. I wish all teachers had you guys presenting across the districts. Keep up the amazing work!)