There was once a very, very ignorant time in my life, a time when I believed that teachers had the easiest job in the world, because they only worked nine months a year, not to mention they had all holidays off. Wow, was I wrong!
My wife is a former 2nd grade teacher. We'd just had our second child right before the start of a new school year, and she still had two weeks left on her maternity leave, so I volunteered to be a substitute teacher for her class for those weeks.
Let me just say, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do that again. It was like The Lord of the Flies in that classroom. The kids had taken over the island! But, one positive element that came out of that experience is that it gave me a whole new love, admiration, and respect for teachers.
Webster's Dictionary defines a teacher as "one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct."
So what does it mean to teach? To teach means to,"Cause or help (someone) to learn about a subject by giving lessons. To instruct someone on new knowledge, or to help cultivate a knowledge that is already present."
One of Jesus' most common titles was Rabbi, a Jewish title meaning "teacher." Being a teacher is such a wonderfully-stressful, joyously-difficult, low paying-highly-rewarding calling that only precious few can take on. The great ones don't look at it as their job, but rather, their passion. Teachers literally shape and mold future generations.
When people are asked, "Who was the most influential person in your life?" The number one most common response is a parent, and a very close second is a teacher.
As your children head back to school, you're entrusting them to a teacher. These men and women are simply human beings; this means that they'll make mistakes, they value encouragement, they appreciate patience, and they desperately need your prayers.
We asked several real-life teachers the following question, "How would you want the parents of your students to pray for you this year?"
Here is what they shared:
1. Pray for us to be constantly reminded of the reason we were called by God to pour into the next generation, especially, on difficult days. Also, for us to be able to find effective time during the day to get alone to pray ourselves, take a breath, and regroup to effectively continue to engage with your child.
2. Pray for an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness to come-over us in moments of stress, chaos, or rebellion by a student. Remember, it's one teacher with many students. Pray for us to possess the wisdom to show grace and mercy when necessary. But, also be able to discern when discipline and sternness is fitting.
3. Pray for our ability to effectively and clearly teach the subject-matter to all students in a way that they can understand.
4. Pray for us to have patience, strength, and understanding of each child's journey. Being able to know where the child is coming from, and their background. That we as teachers would have ears that hear each student. The ability to hear the heart and need of each student. Always remembering that their words are very intentional, and they always have a reason for speaking them. After all, each child in that class is someone's baby.
5. Pray for your acceptance of us as teachers, realizing that we're not last year's teacher, and that this is a completely new year.
6. Pray for unity. Unity within the teacher-parent relationships, and within the teacher-student relationships. Also, for us to experience unity and effective teamwork with the administration, faculty, and fellow teachers. When we're unified it makes a better learning atmosphere for your child.
7. Pray for us not to be overwhelmed with the pressure of standardized testing. To avoid the temptation of looking at the students as scores, marks, and numbers. That we would help the students find value in a year-long process of hard work, sharpening their strengths, and celebrating their individuality, rather than being defined by one test.
8. Pray for our physical, emotional, and spiritual endurance. That we would be able to maintain consistent momentum throughout the entire school-year, and not lose heart.
9. Pray for our personal life. Please, don't forget that we have responsibilities outside of the classroom as well. We have interests, hobbies, to-do lists, spouses, children, friends, and churches we serve.
10. Pray for us who may be Christians. Many times we believe our primary task is to love your children like Jesus would by reflecting the Gospel to them. And, that is often very, very difficult for us to do in a non-Christian environment.
If we take the time to stop and intentionally pray for our teachers, we'll be amazed at how efficiently the school year will go for our children, the teacher, and the impact it may have on the entire atmosphere of the classroom. When you're praying for someone, you can't help but feel compassion for them, and a connection to them.
I remember as a knuckle-headed high school student thinking that some of my teachers were "out to get me." But, looking back I realize how terribly wrong I was. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I can't stand children. I think I'll be a teacher!" Teachers step up to the call to mold the keys that unlock our future. What are those keys? The minds of children sitting in desks everyday watching the teacher you're praying for.
And after all, remember, they are not superheroes. They are something much, much more. They're teachers!