No Turning Back – Reflections of a First-Year Teacher

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Beth Moore once said, “The lyric, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’ is never more moving to sing than when we don’t recognize the road ahead. Still no turning back.”

As a first year teacher on the evening before school started, these words could not have rung more true in my life. I had survived four years of college, taken extensive courses in my content area and classroom management, and yet there I was – kneeling in the middle of an empty classroom, pouring my heart out before the Lord, asking Him to help me because… I had no idea what the next day (or the next eight months) would hold. No amount of education could prepare me for a room full of 13-year-olds; only the Lord could steady my racing heart. And so I cried out to Him. I’m unsure of how long I knelt there – crying, pleading, praising, and worshiping my Savior – but when I left, my heart and mind were at peace.

The next day went as smoothly as any first day of teaching could go – my kids were perfect angels, I only mispronounced one child’s name when calling roll, and I got them all on the bus at the end of the day.

One of my prayers as a brand new teacher was that I would be a good disciplinarian, and that through a disciplined and orderly classroom, I would earn the respect of my students. Over the next two months, my students tested my patience. Certain ones would see just how far they could push me, and to be completely honest, I drove home some afternoons questioning if I had chosen the right career path. I grew discouraged when students would talk back to me, disrespect me, disregard instructions given to them, say harsh things about their classmates…

But each day, in the midst of my discouragement, I prayed that God would move. And in His time, He did. Somewhere between October and November, my students became my babies. I had shown respect to them, and in turn had earned their respect. For the rest of the year, I flourished. I taught my little heart out, and I really feel like my kids learned something. Most of the time, it was English; but I jumped at every opportunity to give a “life lesson.”

I’m grinning right now thinking about it, but if you were to ask my students which particular life lesson I harped on, they would say, “Don’t date in middle school! The purpose of dating is to find someone you want to marry. Yeah, we get it Miss Percy.” (And all God’s people said AMEN!)

Instead of telling you why I love these kids, I’ll let you see for yourself. 🙂 Here’s the link to our video of this year.

After we watched this video together as a class, I read them this entry from my prayer journal (dated the night before school started):

“God, I start my job tomorrow. The job that You gave me, the job You chose for me, the job You ordained and set aside for me… You are so good and I am humbled in Your presence. Thank You for providing for me… And Father I know You have me here for a reason. Please help me be purposeful and intentional about building relationships and sharing Your love. Lord, I pray for my kids – I am soo nervous to meet them tomorrow! I’m excited, too!! Help me love deeply, Father. Help me care. Empower me to be a good disciplinarian. I want my kids to know that they’re worth something. I want them to see YOU in everything I do, God. I pray that you would help me meet needs, but most of all help me look like Your Son, Jesus. I ask all of these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.”

[Side note: I made it about halfway through reading that entry before my voice started cracking and I broke down crying. My boys brought it in for a group hug, and when I looked up, my girls’ faces were red and their cheeks were wet with tears. Such a sweet, precious time. It’s funny how I started the year on my knees crying before the Lord and ended the year that way as well. In case you didn’t know it, God is GOOD, friends! And He is faithful to hear and to answer prayers.]

Do you see now why I love them so?!

Will I miss them? Terribly.

Will I think of them? Often.

Will I love the students who come after them? Absolutely. But these guys – they are my first group of babies to teach, and no one will ever be able to take their place. Their stories will live on in Room A-11 and in my heart long after they’re gone.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my first year as a teacher. Don’t forget to love on someone today; you’ll never know the impact it may have. And don’t forget to give it all to Jesus and follow Him; even in the midst of the unknown, no turning back.

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