As a teacher, I feel this is one of the most discouraging times of the school year. All my fifth graders seem to do each day is “drill and practice” test prep worksheets and logon to test preparation websites to help prepare them for the upcoming state standardized tests in reading, science and math. It is what we are expected to do by our school district to help assure the students perform well so that our school can maintain its “A” ranking. It is also critical they perform well since their placement for middle school is based primarily on these test scores. If that were not enough pressure, then add in the fact that 50% of our teacher performance evaluation is based on the performance of our students on these standardized tests. I have no issue with being held accountable as a teacher and I understand that students need exposure to standardized tests especially as they grow older and prepare for college. My concern, however, is that it drains the life out of teaching. Even though I try to be creative by using games/activities and tracking charts to help encourage friendly competition with the test preparation amongst my students, it still leaves me feeling empty as a teacher. I know the students feel the same way.
Over the last week, I have been reading the book “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo. I felt it would be a great way to help temporarily escape the discouragement I had been feeling in the classroom. The book is about a young boy, Colton, who has a near death experience during an emergency appendectomy and visits heaven. (I don’t want to give away too many details since a movie has been made about this amazing story as well!) As I read pg. 106, I was reminded once again why I became a teacher. Here was my heavenly reminder…
Colton would wake up in the morning and tell me: “Hey Dad, Jesus told me to tell you, He really loves the children.” Over dinner that night he repeated, “Remember, Jesus really loves the children.” Before bed, I helped Colton brush his teeth, “Hey Daddy don’t forget,” he’d say, garbling the words through a mouthful of toothpaste foam, “Jesus said he really, really loves the children!”
LIFE LESSON: It is so easy to get sidetracked and discouraged and to forget the real reason why children are placed into our lives. It is not just to teach them, but also to learn from them. I was reminded that Jesus places an extremely high value on the life of a child. I was reminded that heaven loves children unconditionally. This revelation reminded me just how blessed I am to be a teacher and to be surrounded by children each day, even though each day may bring with it some challenges and struggles. Our earthly world may not consider teaching or being a parent a prestigious job, but the truth encourages me…heaven considers it one of the highest honors.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14