Fourth Quarter Game Plan

Core scripture: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)

Message: The clock is ticking.  One quarter to go.  Your students will only be with you a few more months, then you will be letting them fly off to their next pursuits.  This is the time of year I start to realize just how little time I have left to impact my kids for the better. 

Now is the time!  It is time to intentionally plan out life lessons that will stick.  Every group of kids is different.  Every school has different issues, stresses, and problems that plague them.  Why not tackle these obstacles head on?  Why not plant seeds of wisdom that are sure to sprout down the road? 

So, let’s get real.  How do we apply these lessons?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Find the right video.  If you look at the top of my blog, there is a section called “Character Lessons.”  Click there and explore.  I have categorized plenty of videos I found that I enjoy showing my students.  I never get to them all, but they are there for me when I need them.  Here are a few I would like to show. 
    1. I have seen too many students get influenced by their peers.  Some really good kids have been hanging around the wrong crowd, making poor choices.  Marc Mero’s video about his mom hits that topic head on.  He tells the story about how he hung around with losers, influencing his decisions for the worse.  Check out the video here:
    1. Some of my students give up too easily.  They hit a speed bump and just quit.  They need something to motivate them to keep trying.  It is time to show them the video of Heather Dorniden’s race.  Heather was tripped and fell down in the middle of her race, but she immediately popped up and kept at it.  It is inspirational to see her catch the leaders and win at the tape:
    1. Mental health is a serious topic for my kids.  I have never had a student successfully attempt suicide, but through the years plenty have tried.  In The Outsiders, our novel for 4th quarter, Dally Winston chooses to end his life after his best friend, Johnny, dies.  I will be sure to take a moment to pause and discuss that horrific decision.  Kevin Hines hits the topic head on in his story about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge:
  • Find the right story.  We all have stories from our lives or from the lives of others.  A story reels the kids back in and has the power to change lives.  Stories stick and can be passed on to others.  Here are a few stories I have shared and a few I hope to share.
    • Getting up and speaking in front of the class is scary for some!  As a matter of fact, if some of my students had the choice to opt out and take a zero, they would in a heartbeat.  To combat this, I told the kids about my old student from four or five years ago who was a selective mute.  That kid had not uttered a single word in my class up to the point of his speech, but he took the floor and blew us all away with his two-minute speech.  The class gave him a standing ovation.
    • My girls this year are so tempted to embrace drama that goes around 7th grade.  Rumors are spread, gossip drips from their lips, and friendships are broken.  They fight over the smallest things.  Much like the night in college when I fought with my best friend over a bag of spilled Doritos.  I laugh now, but to think that we almost wasted away our friendship over something that silly is kinda sad.  When I share this story, they can all relate!  They all fight over silly things.  And the story has a happy ending because I humbled myself and the friendship was saved.
    • Life can change on a dime.  I see a lot of my students taking life for granted and going through the motions.  They fail to realize that they need to wake up and suck the marrow out of life as told in the movie Dead Poet’s Society.  I would love to share the story of my New Year’s Eve in 1994 when in a split second I lost control of my car in the snow, flew over a 10-foot cliff, and wrapped my Ford Bronco II around an oak tree.  It could happen to any of us!  And if we don’t pause and think about how sweet life is, we might miss out.
  • Find the right quote.  A motivational quote timed at the perfect moment can change a life.  Search them up!  Give that perfect Newt Rockne pep talk before they take a big exam and watch your students soar.  Here are a few my students need.
    • The 7th grade boys’ basketball team finished their season a few weeks ago.  Although they did phenomenal, they finished fourth in the city tournament and felt demoralized.  I knew just what they needed to hear and shared Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote.  Look it up!  You are sure to be inspired.
    • On my last day of school in 11th grade, my teacher, Mel Basket, gave us powerful advice to chew on.  He wished us all a “successful failure” in life.  He wanted us to fail at something and learn a lesson from our failure to make us a better person.  My students are sure to fail numerous times in life, and I love sharing Mr. Basket’s quote on the last week of school.
    • The Bible is so rich with inspirational one-liners.  Many times I will paraphrase a scripture to prove a point.  Jesus talks about loving your enemies and doing good to those who persecute you.  So many of my students struggle with this.  They retaliate with words of hate and spew venom.  Christ’s quote flips the script on that one.  I won’t mention the Bible as the source, but it provides fantastic advice.

So, how about you?  What do your students need to hear?  What life lessons are itching to be shared before you lose out on a chance to impact them?  The clock is ticking.  It is time to start the gameplan.  Best of luck as you tackle the last quarter of the year!

Challenge: Create an intentional plan about life lessons you want your students to leave with, and begin teaching them.  Seek out inspirational videos, think of powerful stories that illustrate points, and find motivational quotes that will stick to your students’ souls. 

Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …

  • Praise God for opportunities He provides to teach life lessons.
  • Pray for students to be receptive to the wisdom you are leaving them with.
  • Pray that students will allow these life lessons to marinate and teach them to others. 

Just for fun: March Madness fever has caught me, and I am living it up as my Jayhawks are still fighting in the Sweet 16.  It makes me recall one of my favorite hilarious moments at Allen Field House when the Oklahoma State Cowboys visited and the crowd realized point guard Doug Gottlieb had his shorts on backwards.  They began to chant “Shorts on backwards!” over and over until Eddie Sutton called timeout and Gottlieb crouched in the middle of his tall teammates to perform a quick switch.  Don’t believe me?  Here is the video to prove it!

Prayer: Father, help me be intentional about the life lessons I teach this final quarter.  Let them stick to my students’ souls like peanut butter.  Amen.

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