Core scripture: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Message: I have this problem. For over 15 years I have ended the school year the same way by teaching my favorite novel, The Outsiders. But as you know, COVID has completely revamped anything and everything in our curriculum.
My colleague from the other team and I chose to stay together through it all. We taught The Outsiders together last quarter, and I threw out my old lit circles unit. Now, with state testing coming up next week, the remainder of my year is … well … unplanned.
There is a part of me that is panicked; however, there is another part of me that feels like a kid in a candy store. I now have the power to end the year with something new. Something fresh. Something that will stick to their souls like peanut butter.
As we stride into the last eight weeks of the school year, what legacy will be left behind for these kids to carry into 8th grade? To high school? Maybe to the rest of their lives? Truth be told, I feel that the Lord wants a variety of activities. As I prayerfully contemplate which ones to use, I hope you do the same.
- Something to give them a break: My students will just have wrapped up an onslaught of state testing late next week. They are going to be burnt out and not in the mood for a research project or anything too serious. I have decided to let them watch a movie called Cyberbully. Having shared it before, I know it will keep their attention and provide powerful discussion. And yes, they will write a reflection over it, too. Remember, even Jesus realized His disciples needed a little rest (Mark 6:31).
- Something that will stick: Last week one of my students asked me online how one of my assignments will help him in life. I thought about that. Kids don’t need to learn stuff they will forget over the summer. They need substance. Life lessons. For example, many will be applying for jobs in a year or two. Why not teach them how to sell themselves through interview skills or writing a resume? “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
- Something fun: Kids have this urgent desire to have fun. And yes, it is certainly possible to have fun while learning. Incorporate a relay race outside on the lawn for a review game. Do one of those following directions activities where the directions tell them to complete only the questions that involve curriculum and the rest have them doing goofy stuff like jumping jacks and squawking like a bird. Ecclesiastes 3:13 says that we should “eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil.”
- Something new: Get out of your normal routine. Mix it up! Novelty will grip them. Take your class outside for a lesson. Change your seating arrangement. Do something that will shake up the scene in a fresh, productive way as explained in Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
- Something to teach character: Whether or not my students know what a simile is matters so little compared to them knowing character traits that will define them in life. Teach those traits that I spoke about in my last blog. Compassion. Love. Humility. Kindness. We know that God looks at and knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Why not instill traits in our students that will glorify the Lord?
How are you going to finish off the year? What legacy will you leave your students with as they move on to the next step in life? The choice is yours.
Challenge: Prayerfully ask the Lord what He wants you to do to finish off the school year. Start planning the remainder of the school year around His decrees.
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord.
- Pray that your lessons the last quarter of the year will line up with what God needs from you.
- Pray that you will have a lasting impact on your students and see the last quarter as an opportunity to make a difference.
- Pray that students and teachers alike will conquer testing season.
Just for fun: Last Thursday I convinced all my students that state testing would begin last Friday, running all day until they were finished. After every jaw dropped and protesting began to erupt, I calmly informed them it was April Fools Day.
Prayer: Father, may my plans be Your plans for the last eight weeks of the school year. Amen.