Monday, February 17, 2014

Bible-Inspiration for this Kindergarten Teacher

Throughout my entire experience as an Education Major in College, I couldn’t wait to graduate and land my dream-job as a Fourth-Grade Teacher. I didn’t care what subject, what school or what circumstances, I just knew that Fourth Grade was exactly where I wanted to be, and I would settle for no less.  Well, as you can probably tell from my blog title, the Lord had different plans. Completely. Different. Plans. 
Long story short, I am now a Kindergarten Teacher. This was completely uncharted territory for me, more than I could even imagine at the get go. For an upper-grade loving, five-year-old-fearing, new-kid-on-the-block.. the idea was downright terrifying. During my interview for the position I tried terribly hard not to cringe at the thought of being propelled into a grade-level I had no experience with, and somehow managed to secure the job. This is where the fun began.
What you may not know about Kindergarten Teachers is that they are a breed of their own. I mean, some sort of crazy-hybrid, insanely-patient and chaos-handling superhero. I totally lacked all of those qualities when I began, but somehow adapted to my surroundings. As a Christian, I do not believe we as humans evolved from monkeys. But, I am a true testament to the form of evolution involved in becoming a true Kindergarten Teacher. I transformed from a calm, raise-my-hand-and-silence-the-room-classroom-management, fourth-grade type... into a running in circles, holding hands and cleaning up poop from the hallway floor Kindergarten type. I am a completely new person and I can say that with my head held high.That is something not many people can claim to be.
Thankfully, there are things and people built into my life that helped me maintain my sanity and passion through this life-changing experience. My husband, co-workers and friends had a large part in this, but ultimately, it was prayer and communion with the Word of God that kept me grounded at times of pure confusion and defeat. So, I’m going to share with you some verses that inspire me and pick-me-up when I question this adventure.

 Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

The first six weeks of my teaching experience where tougher than I could have ever fathomed as an onlooker. It was beyond my perceivable abilities and many times I took it as far as to question my purpose as an educator. Had I made the wrong decision for my life? I cried a lot, I questioned a lot and I wanted to give up a lot. That is when this verse helped me. I knew that I loved the Lord and wanted to do his will, but I focused too much on myself and what I thought and felt.  One of the positive turning points for me was when I placed all of my humanly-understanding aside and trusted in him. I prayed for guidance and help and that is when I received it. When we forfeit our control and understanding, the Lord will guide us to a brighter day.  I know that from experience. As teachers, the greatest profession of all, it is so important to allow God lead us into the place of our greatest teaching potential.     

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I learned very quickly that to be an effective Teacher, the number one quality you must possess is love. We want the best for those we love and our students deserve no less.  In Kindergarten, where all the adorably funny and kind-hearted five year olds reside, that comes easy. But at times, although I had a clear love for my students, it was very easy for me to get impatient and agitated with my job and yes, my kids. During the first week of teaching, I had an experience where four boys went into the bathroom and peed on each other. (Sorry for the bluntness, but that is just the simple truth!) I thought I would die! This was even before many parents sent extra clothes and before I had help in my room full time. So, here I am all alone with 25 kids, four that reeked of bodily fluids and no idea how to handle it. Somehow, I survived that experience (after I lost my cool and put my grumpy-pants on).  Unfortunately, I didn’t relate my true sense of love for my kids in my actions that day and on many occasions before that. A true sense of love brings about the things this verse explains. Kindness, patience and endurance. As teachers, these qualities will make you or break you. This verse reminds me what love looks like and how I should portray my feelings under tough circumstances. 

 Matthew 18:3 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I have always loved this verse, but never comprehended it to its full extent until I was blessed with the opportunity to be around children every day. Now, as a teacher, it relates to me just how much the Lord loves children and how many incredible qualities he instills within them. They naturally love others, want to be kind and contain a unique trait of utter honesty. (Never ask a Kindergartener how old they think you are, by the way.) When I feel like I can’t bear to type up another lesson plan, attend another PD or wake up at 5 AM, I remember that I am in the profession of nurturing God’s most innocent creation; children. What could be more important than that? That is a wonderful reason to keep doing what I do. 

 Psalm 128:2 When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

No one knows the labor a passionate Teacher endures unless you are yourself a passionate Teacher. I (very foolishly) thought that my Student Teaching experience would prepare me for the workload that I was about to undertake. That was a Big mistake with a capital B. Teaching is an all-consuming profession, I know that now. It consumes my time, my energy, my creativity and my sanity. I often feel zombie-ish after a 12 hour day and wonder how I’ll find the strength to drag myself away from my pillow the next morning. That is when I try to remember this verse and the Lord’s commands about working hard and laboring in this life. That is what we are supposed to do, because it brings about so many enjoyable rewards. Although a Teacher’s salary is nothing compared to a professional football player’s, our earnings go far beyond the perishable paper green stuff that is so easily spent this day in time. I go home on the weekend knowing that I’ve made my indentation in the hearts of the future. I am paid with hugs and drawings of hearts with stick-figures inside, which is all that a child can afford to give. To me, that is worth a million dollars and I am happy and all is well. Teachers need to keep this in mind when our paychecks lose that elasticity that allows us to stretch them out until another one rolls around. We can be proud of what we earn because we truly earn it.

There is so much inspiration for educators ready to be discovered within the pages of the holy word of God. I would love to hear about your own personal “Teacher Favorites.” Please share in the comments section! <3 

 God bless! 


  1. Toni, I have read all your posts on your blogs and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Your love for the kids you teach is evident in your voice. I know that kindergarten and 1st grade are two entirely different grade levels, but the students aren't entirely different "creatures." I also understand that student teaching and teaching are almost on opposite ends of the education spectrum because as a student teacher, you don't feel the huge responsibility that can consume you when the class is YOUR OWN. I have to wonder though whether working with my 1st graders didn't prepare you at all for your new role this year. I always hear you speak of your experiences in the 4th grade, but nothing about 1st grade.At any rate, it is obvious that you have embraced this new experience and have faced it head-on with the determination of the passionate teacher that you have proven yourself to be. Your students, your school, community, and the parents are very fortunate to have you as part of their family.

    1. Mrs. Tiibbs!!! I can't believe you are reading my blog! What an honor! :) And yes, you are right, student teaching could never have prepared me for real-life teaching. You told me that during our time together and just like everything else you told me, I took it to heart and knew that you were being genuine. It is also true that Kindergarten and 1st are two Worlds apart but if anything even began to prepare me for my career now, it was the time in your room with your firsties. But, for some reason, I feel that our time together was too short!I think it was all the meetings at MSU and testing time, but I feel like I could have benefited much more if I could have had more time with you!! Have you ever taught Kindergarten? I would have never believed the difference between the two grade-levels until I saw it for myself. Plus, your kids were closer to 2nd when I finally landed there. I thoroughly enjoyed my time under your wing, even though I was nervous about it to begin with. I love you and thank you for caring enough to keep encouraging me. <3