Are You Ready?

That’s the question I hear almost daily from someone. Are you ready to go back to school? Well, here’s the parody that I posted yesterday sharing how I want to teach, so in that regard…I’m more than ready.

That question then leads to a discussion of the current situation of reentry and pandemic guidelines. It’s a lot to ponder. In fact, I’ve been pondering it ever since the 19-20 school year ended.

Am I ready?

My room is almost ready. I think I’d like calling it my home if I was a student. Currently, it’s organized, and I’m really going to try to keep it that way. [Now those of you who know me and have been in my classroom, you should quit laughing. It could happen. Maybe it’ll be another positive change for the second-half of my century.]

Am I ready to teach 4th grade?

To be honest, the math and language arts will just be a step deeper, so I’m good there. Social studies has more of a state focus, which should be fun. Between the two of us, I’ve never been a fan of social studies. I remember one year in elementary, my teacher wrote a chalkboard full of notes that we copied. I don’t ever want to do that. I’m hoping that I can add my energy and creativity to help it come to life. Plus, one of the 4th grade teachers from when I was in 4th grade contacted me and is sharing some books and a unit on our town with me. Shoot, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I was going to see if I could convince the rest of my new grade level to plan a Johnny Appleseed Day with me. I mean, that was my FAVORITE memory of 4th grade. Plus, the newness of the focus will be a great challenge for me. You know you’re a teacher when you become excited about finding and printing pics of the state seal, motto, flower, bird, tree, song, and poem. Honestly, I didn’t even know we had a state song, but you can be certain that my 4th graders will hear it…and we just may sing it because….some kids connect best to music. Science has some topics I’ve never taught in 3rd grade, so that will be another challenge. Thankfully, I have some connections to Hanover College that may come in helpful in those areas.

Am I ready to teach during a pandemic?

No…yes…somewhat..I think so. Clear as mud?

No, I’m not ready to do it, but yes I am ready to do it. There’s this study I participated in last summer called the Enneagram. It pointed out to me that I often let fear guide me. I never really thought about it until I read it. Then, as I analyzed my choices, behaviors, etc…I realized it was true. So, fear is there. Social media and the media itself do nothing to help that fear. So many differing views. So many differing truths. You can find someone saying it’s best to return, someone saying to start virtually is best, and another saying schools should remain virtual until a vaccine is successful. All of those “someones” are experts. All of those experts have evidence. See what I mean?

This morning, our pastor preached on the importance of learning and being lifelong learners. Now, as a teacher, I tell my kiddos that every single year. You’re never too old or too experienced or too wise to learn something new.

The sermon proclaimed that we should learn BIBLICALLY, BODILY, and BROADLY. Biblically is obvious…read the Bible, study the Bible, and learn its truths. The second reminds us not to just learn in our brain but to DO the learning. If we learn the importance of being kind, go be kind. If we learn to cook, share the skill with others by inviting them over, taking them a meal, or teaching them your skills. The final point was to learn broadly. It reminds us that we can learn from all people. Yet, when we learn from others, we must take that learning back to scripture. Now, I am certain that as easily as I can pick some scripture to support going back that someone else could share one that says to protect children and to avoid danger. My point is that….as I hear or read the experts, I know they’re simply making an opinion based on their evidence with their mindset. Me? I strive to focus on three things….

I have faith in the One who created me, who gives wisdom, and who will walk with me whether I’m on a mountaintop or valley….whether I’m in a cute classroom with tables, a rocking chair, and desk groups… or if I’m in a cute classroom without tables, rocking chair, or desk groups. He will be with me in that classroom.

Being a part of several education groups through FB, I read a lot of great ideas for education and can ask for advice. However, I’ve also been inundated with opinions. Some of those opinions are written with a heart of love and concern while others are written with more judgment and anger. Those opinions that are overwhelmed with fear are ones I try to bypass. Why? I know how fear can take over, so I need to put it in the corner. I need to stick with the hero of the story…and that’s my faith. My faith tells me to be obedient to the calling placed on me, and to have faith that regardless of where the path leads….that He’s got me.

Peace. You don’t find a lot of quiet peaceful moments in a school. The school day is often filled with laughter, loudness, and learning. I’m good with those three things, but I also know I’ll need to rely on a peace that surpasses understanding. A peace that comes from the Prince of Peace.

Some of you who read this will think my head is in the clouds and I’m not looking realistically at the year ahead. You can think that.

Some of you may think that I have it altogether and you can learn from me. Not really.

Some of you, especially those of you who know me, will probably think this sounds very “Jodi”. Well, obviously.

This morning in our Bible study class, one of the ladies asked about the upcoming year and how I thought I’d get through it. My reply sums up my thoughts.

“There will be plenty of prayer in my classroom to get me through the journey.” So, I ask you, pray for the teachers and students who are venturing back into the school buildings. Pray for those families who choose to learn virtually and the educators who will be differentiating instruction through a computer. Pray for those families who are giving homeschooling a chance in these uncertain times. Pray that the pandemic won’t be able to overthrow the learning. Pray for government that supports education. Pray for loudness, laughter, and learning to fill our days….

Well, maybe go light on the loudness.

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