For those of you who don't know, I teach second grade at a public school in the inner-city. That in itself presents many challenges. I have a student whose mother is a surgeon. I also have a student who lives in a homeless shelter. Most of my students have free or reduced lunch. I have students with two parents, one parent or no custodial parent as they are in foster care. Some children speak only English and some children are learning English. Some families have been here for a long time and others arrived last year. In short, my students come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We're packed into a small classroom in a school built in the 1930's. Most of those buildings have small classrooms as they were designed for children who sat at desks all day. They are not conducive to active, young bodies. I don't even have desks. I have tables as they don't take up as much space, I can see what their hands are doing at all times and it's more difficult to play with stuff when they're supposed to be paying attention or working. We have no choice but to try to get along with each other and work together. If we don't, there will be chaos and no learning will take place.
In order to work together and be prepared for third grade by the end of the year, we have to have certain rules or guidelines which we follow. Here is a list of a few of the standards we try to follow. They are not listed in order of importance.
1. Do your job even if others aren't. Everyone knows what they are supposed to do. If it is time to work on a math assignment, you work on your math assignment. If it is time to clean up, you clean up your own area. If we're walking down the hall in a line, you do it the way you've been taught to do it. If you take the pass to use the bathroom, you go to the bathroom, not up to third floor or to the gym or over to first grade to see your teacher from last year. You get the idea.
2. Your eyes are on the speaker. I realize that in many cultures, looking directly at the speaker is actually a sign of disrespect. However in American culture, and we are in an American school, it is disrespectful to not look at the speaker. If you don't look at the speaker, you are in essence saying that what the speaker has to say is not important enough to pay attention to.
3. Do your best job always. Take pride in what you do.
4. Don't let someone else get you into trouble. This is a big one. Right now I have three students who can't sit together at all because they always get into trouble. One will start talking and then everyone else will join in. They neglect their work, they quit paying attention and things aren't good. They get each other into trouble. I'm finally having students say "I can't sit beside you on the carpet because we get each other into trouble."
There are a lot more guidelines of course but I want to just focus on these four and how they relate to our Christian walk.
It is very easy to quit focusing on what are suppose to be doing and focus on others instead. Just because someone else is doing something doesn't mean we should be doing it. We need to listen to what God says first and foremost above what other people say. We need to be obedient to Him and keep our minds on the task at hand.
We need to lift our heads up and look straight at Christ when He is speaking to us. I know we don't always want to do that but we need to give Him 100% of our attention. Far too often we're too busy thinking up our next excuse or what we're going to be doing when Christ is finally done talking to us. We need to show respect toward God.
Far too often Christians are guilty of doing a mediocre job for Christ. We haphazardly throw something together and claim we're just trying to be flexible so the Holy Spirit can move as desired. That's a poor excuse for laziness! We are princesses and princes of The King. He expects us to put forth our best effort whether we're speaking to thousands of people or scrubbing the toilet of someone who is sick and homebound.
We need to be careful who we associate with. I'm not talking about snobbery here. I'm talking about something entirely different. Jesus did hang out with sinners but if you look carefully you will see that He influenced them rather than the other way around. If you notice that you always seem to be yielding to temptation when you're with Person A, then perhaps you need to quit hanging out with Person A until you are mature enough to impact their world rather than the other way around.
These are just a few life lessons from the second grade classroom.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
I think these rules for life need to be printed and hung on my refrigerator or on my bulletin board. Thank you! And if I haven't said it lately, let me say again that I thank God for Christians in our public school systems. God's people are strategically stationed everywhere.