Teachers Finding Refreshment

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Every job has its unique set of challenges. Teaching is emotionally taxing, and takes mental energy. Teachers sense a need for ways to find renewal and refreshment. But teaching has daily demands, and many refreshing pursuits are hard to accomplish while teaching.
Teachers impart something of their very person to the students every day and generally demands full attention all day long. Discipline issues can dip deeply into our emotional reserves. Communicating with unhappy parents burns up more precious energy. Our cup of emotional reserves gets drained repeatedly.
Each day we must stand before our classes with a smile and a cheerful heart. We must inspire our students to love to learn. Children easily sense our spirit. They can tell when we are running low on courage, strength, and cheer.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Jesus spent some time alone on the mountain with His disciples to rest and be refreshed. But, when the people came and broke into His break time, He took up ministry again and taught them.
Our attitude toward teaching will have some influence on how much we feel we need to “get away” and find refreshment. If we enter joyfully into the work as willing servants, it will help us accept how tired we feel at times. If we love to give, we find happiness in having given our best. We cannot afford the entitlement mentality that says since I have this taxing job, I deserve time off. Many other responsibilities in home life and church life have similar emotionally taxing effects on us.
There is a healthy balance we must find in our push for academics. Too high of a push will result in a heavy workload. For new teachers, especially, it takes some time to master each subject they are teaching. Some beginners focus on taking one subject a year to greater levels, rather than trying for the highest mastery of all of them in one year. This point is one reason why teaching many years is such a blessing for teachers and students.
We should be cautious about big ideas for teaching that take a lot of work to keep them going. Extra-curricular projects should be like dessert, not the main course. Every program for incentives and rewards takes some work to keep it current. Fancy bulletin boards, unique classroom decorations, elaborate count downs, etc. will not get the lessons taught that are the main reason for school.
First and foremost, we must find strength in God each day. His grace will see us through each day. In our busy schedule with its demands, we should not short-change our personal devotions time. We should cast our care on God through prayer. We should tell the Lord specifically about the challenges we face and ask His divine help. Then as we have faith in God and watch Him work, we are encouraged. How rewarding it is to be workers together with God to teach children to love and serve him. Prayer time together with school staff each week can be an inspiration.
Another place teachers can find refreshment is with family exchange after school hours. Mealtime with our family or with the family we stay with provides a social refreshment. Stories around the table can do wonders for a weary mind. Helping with family chores helps. I often found that I was very tired at 3 o’clock, but if I came home and did some home chores, I felt refreshed even when I worked hard. The change of pace and the exercise did wonders.
Church experiences provide spiritual and social refreshment. It is surprising how refreshed one can feel after prayer meeting. But too often we think we are too tired to go and then we miss that spiritual lift. Even involvement in teaching children’s classes can be encouraging. Most teachers hesitate to take on more teaching. But an occasional class or a helper role can provide interesting interaction with children. Youth Bible School can be a refresher in the middle of the school term. Every school must decide what they do with teachers’ requests to take three weeks off to go to Bible School. Boards must remember that youth are only young once, and time slips away fast. Perhaps boards should only hire youth who have gone to Bible School for several years. But teachers must also remember that the classroom is our main mission. One question we must be honest with is, “How often do I want off from teaching?” Mission trips, family gatherings, and weddings can pull us away too much and hinder the classroom. Our commitment to the classroom will mean we will have to say no to some fun things other youth may be doing.
Many teachers find it helpful to have a trusted, stable friend to share with. They find a listening ear and helpful counsel. Perhaps it is a father or mother who once taught school. This is one place that the older women can teach the younger about principles and challenges of teaching children. Some teachers find emotional release through journaling.
Reading can be another diversion for some. Others want to get away from books. But stories from history or biographies of scientists can be fascinating. Poetry has a special way of touching heartstrings and soothing our minds. Reading can provide us with examples of literary style and writing elements.
A side-line hobby can provide a diversion. Bird feeding, a fish aquarium, or butterfly collecting will take your mind off school and study. But we must be careful how much money and time our hobby takes, or it can become one more drain on us. It should be flexible and servant to our teaching.
Personal education can be exciting. Learning typing or Spanish can remind us what our students face in the classroom. Studying out some doctrinal issue can bless our personal life by giving us a fuller understanding of God and His Word. Online classes can provide some helpful teaching skills. But we should be careful what influences we bring ourselves under.
Local historical sites and museums can be inspirational. Many of these are free. Maybe it’s just a historical landmark where some significant history took place. Historical reminders give us something to use to travel back in time and consider what others faced and how times were in an older era.
Teachers should think about proper eating and resting habits. Binge eating under stress will harm. Sugar cravings work against you. Late-night gatherings, though full of social exchange, do take a toll on our total energy for the next day. This is one area where living with a family, and keeping their schedule can be a blessing. We may have to leave school a bit earlier than we like to be present for supper, but it probably will be much better for us than to stop at a fast-food place on the way home.
Another valuable refresher is quiet meditation time. A quiet sunset sitting under an oak tree can bless the stressed one. Time away from people can be a welcome diversion. It is sometimes called “margin space” on our paper of time. We need some blank spaces for reflections on things that are missed in the larger text of life. Remember though, social media will try to barge in and take your quietness from you. Social media does not always refresh a person!
Families can have a part in helping teachers with this need for rejuvenation. We can plan a simple local outing and invite a teacher along. We can take care of the work, the plans, and transportation and meals while they ride along and receive inspiration. A cook-out on our back porch with the teachers can be a quick, easy, cheap diversion.
May God grant each teacher the strength they need for each day. May we as patrons and board members be faithful in prayer for them.