A Prayer for Teachers

It’s that time of year again. In Texas at least, teachers are reporting back to duty this week. Good-bye slow mornings with no alarms. Good-bye afternoon movie dates and post-lunch naps! (I’ve always been told to sleep when the baby sleeps, and even though my youngest is nearly three, I still live by that creed. Mama takes her sleep SER.I.OUS.LY.) Good-bye mid-week grocery shopping. Good-bye late nights with one more cartoon and a few more snuggles. Good-bye to my crush, Jimmy Fallon. We’ve had a hilarious summer and I’m pleased to see your finger is healing nicely, but now reality calls. Until next year…

From one educator to another, I want to say to you, Dear Teacher, that I pray for you this week. Leaving the luxuries of summer behind is a yearly adjustment for all of us. In just a couple of weeks, you’ll face a roomful of new faces and try without success to remember what it was like to wake up after the sun instead of before it. As you look into your students’ eyes for the first time in a week or so, I want you to remember that you were lifted up in prayer and readied for this moment.

Dear Teacher, those kiddos (even the big ole’ seventeen- and eighteen-year-old ones) need you this year. They need to hear repeatedly that they are worth your time, that they are capable of big things, and that hard work will eventually pay off. They need you to speak these truths to them so many times that your voice becomes their inner voice. When they tell themselves, “Yes, this is hard! But difficult does not equal impossible,” they hear you. They’ll give it a try… for you. Because they think you believe they can.

Teach, they’re watching you this year. Don’t forget that they’re learning important life skills, the ones that have nothing to do with Reading or World History. They see how you treat other staff members and how you deal with conflict yourself. They see how you face the day with work to be done while your personal life crumbles to pieces and brings you to the brink of emotional instability. They’re learning from you, every moment, just by being near you. How should I politely tell this person they made me mad? What do I do when I’m afraid to go home after school? How do I admit I need help? Be intentional with your integrity and your character this year, Teacher. Your students need you beyond your subject area.

Dear Teacher, I pray that you will be what your students need you to be this year. Maybe some of those boys need a patient teacher, one who can always greet them with a hug and a smile… even in April or May. Maybe a few of those girls need a listening ear or a kind word to speak louder than the belittling ones they hear outside your room. Maybe your students just need you to remember that they’re still kids. And inevitably, kids are bound to act like kids. It’s not always convenient when data demands need to be met. But we’re not raising a generation of numbers, are we?

Teacher, I pray you’ll enjoy your last moments with your family or friends before the year steals your time. I pray you will be fortified and ready for the students God will bring through your door this year. I pray you will have the support you need and the confidence you deserve to have an unforgettable year.

And because I know my prayers will never fall on deaf ears, I pray for the REALLY important things too: I pray there won’t be a line at the copier when you’re in a hurry. I pray it won’t jam when the line is seven people deep behind you. I pray you receive Starbucks gift cards at Christmas instead of another candle. I pray your name is accidentally left off the committees list. I pray your duty is minimal, and your raise is significant. I pray for extra hours in the day when you need to grade research papers. I pray for the rest of your assessments to be online multiple-choice quizzes. I pray for patience when you need it, rest when you’re weary, more laughter to share with your  students.

Here’s to another stellar year, Dear Teacher!


10 Reasons to Confess You’re a Closet Writer

10. The public library becomes a death trap to your dreams! A routine trip with your kids turns into a mind competition. You can’t even check out Captain Underpants or Brown Bear, Brown Bear before you’re eyeing the shelves in your genre thinking, “All these people, rows and rows of them, have written down their words and convinced someone to publish them.” All those people are your competitors. “I will not go quietly into the night.”

9. You battle a self-conscious internal dialogue. It tells you the world already has a bazillion books and questions why anyone would read yours. 

8. Instinctively, you vow to negotiate for uber-hip cover art. Dang right, Skippy: we all judge a book by its cover! You will draw readers because they’ll fall in love with the front. Sure, words are important too, but let’s be real. 

7. Your “office” time takes place in the middle of the night– after your kids are in bed, likely while the rest of the neighborhood sleeps. Even though you’ve never been a night owl, writing is the adrenaline rush that changes your sleep habits. 

6. When in writing season, you revisit chaotic sleeping patterns comparable to your college years. You find it IMPOSSIBLE to fall asleep after writing in the wee hours. Unfortunately, now you have a day job and a family, maybe kids, and have forfeited your sleep for your writing obsession. 

5. And writing does become an obsession. So many thoughts! So many ideas and stories to share. They relentlessly beg you to set them free. 

4. You feel overprotective of your words and begin to realize it’s not all that different than raising your kids. You handle them with the gentlest of care like you would an infant, praising them for every little milestone along the way. You fuss at them when they won’t cooperate like your teenagers, occasionally giving them the silent treatment when they’ve made you so frustrated you want to scream and throw things. One day your words, like your children, will have to leave the safety of your hands. You’ve done the best you could. All you can hope for is the confidence that the world will treat them right. 

3. You are picky with whom you share your writing. When you need encouragement, you invite your mother over for a read. “Oh, darling! I loved every single syllable of it!” (What else would you expect from Mother Dearest?) When you feel ambitious, you seek out someone who hasn’t fallen in love with your words as deeply as you have, someone whose constructive criticism will better your piece. 

2. Others think you’re wordy. Brief email replies are non-existent in your world, and you hate Twitter because it’s a game of Revision just to be able to tweet. 

1. No matter how many words you’ve written over your lifetime, there will always be more waiting for their turn in your pen.