“Hey Rookie! Have you prayed today?”
This is what Vince, the Spanish teacher next door, asked me on my first day of teaching ever. He was one of the BEST (kindest, wisest, most helpful) mentors, despite teasing me relentlessly about being the rookie on our hallway. To be fair…here’s the whole quote.
“Hey Rookie! Have you prayed today? You better pray. These children gonna eat you alive!”
I smiled and he roared with laughter
The truth was I HAD prayed for my students that morning. In fact, that year (at Vince’s recommendation) I began a tradition. Every year before the first class arrived, I sat in each desk and prayed for the six kids who would sit in that desk that year. Honestly, it took a long time and I didn’t always know what to pray for. After all, I hadn’t met the kids yet. But, over the years, this became one of my favorite traditions for a few reasons.
First, when I pray it helps me to remember that the people I serve are people…just that, people I serve. They’re not problems to be fixed, disruptions to be ignored, aggravations to be managed, or favorites to be rewarded. They’re people, made in the image of God, same as me. And when I remember they’re people, I’m more likely to remember that they exist outside the hour in my class which means…
· They have pressures I don’t know about.
· They have more to do than just my homework.
· They have life situations that lead them to act the way they do.
· They have other people who influence them and care about them.
· They have a whole life going on that could justify the distraction from my lesson.
· And before I jump to conclusions about why they act, talk, don’t talk, or backtalk the way they do, I need to ask some questions to get the whole picture.
The first day of school prayer tradition was a special one, but it wasn’t the only one. A year or two later, a few more traditions had developed. For example:
On Monday mornings, I gathered with every teacher on my hall (all of whom had different faith backgrounds, by the way) and prayed for the kids who would walk into our classrooms.
Each day during my planning period, I’d (TRY TO) pull one of my five class rosters and pray for each kid on that roster by name.
I knew praying for my students was important and I knew it benefitted me as much as them. But with so many, I had to develop some systems to make sure that happened. I’m pretty sure that’s true for you, too.
How do you prioritize praying for your students?
How do you create systems to ensure your priorities actually happen?