I figure if you read this blog you have a sense of my personal belief on spirituality and God’s active involvement in the life of believers. But you still may wonder about calling teaching “sacred”. After all, public schools have this clear separation with church and state.
In my reading of Seven Sacred Pauses by Wiederkehr this line struck me as important to the work of teaching, “Our work enables us to bring grace and beauty to our world. For this reason we need to learn how to work from the heart” (24). This is what I mean by a sacred work.
I’ve written about the heart of teachers in the past and won’t repeat those thoughts, but I encourage you to have a heart check-up this month. February is the heart month and you may find yourself in the winter drudge, waiting for spring break, anticipating the upcoming intensive prepping for tests, and then the actual tests.
A Teacher’s Heart Check-up
Do you work from the heart? Consider your general feeling when you get to work each day. Look at the big picture, not just a few bad days that have you stressed more than usual. Is there joy in your teaching?
Mindfulness means being aware of your task as you slog through the trivia, the tedious, and the routine of teaching. Are you able to keep lofty goals in front of you? What goals,you ask? The goal of challenging young minds to learn as they grow.
Can you look beyond the crisis of the moment and putting each day in a proper perspective?
Teaching is an art, a science, and a service.
If the science piece of teaching fulfills you and motivates you to press on, cheers to you. But a healthy life needs more.
Healthy living requires balance, and I believe a healthy teacher needs a balance of the science, the art, and the service of teaching.
If teachers did not believe in the service they perform, they would be in another profession. The money and the benefits certainly don’t deliver enough security to make up for working in difficult places, sometimes working for difficult people, and always working with students who’s lives are filled with difficult problems.
My Habits of Heart posts were written to encourage you on your path of mindfulness, specific habits that need to be nurtured or planted in your heart. Working from the heart gives you a different perspective. You don’t have to pray in your classroom with your students to be mindful of their needs — they will know your heart. It shows up in the way you speak to your students, in the ways you encourage a student in a private conversation.
I taught for many years without considering that my work was a service to God. If I wasn’t talking about God or praying aloud or reading Scripture, my work didn’t seem to be of a spiritual nature. But once I returned to the “regular” classroom my students’ hearts were so obviously needy and broken. My research into the “Soul of Education” showed me that character lessons, teaching students to think deeply about topics that matter, and showing students how to write about the literature they read were all ways in which I could work from my heart.
I encourage you to examine your heart in these last days of February. I pray you are finding joy in your teaching.
Counting the blessings of
teachers who work from their hearts
teachers who find joy in their students
teachers who continue in the struggle to maintain a balance in their teaching