The Lutheran school system is a strange place, theologically speaking. It stands in the gap between a world of rules and a world of forgiveness. Following the scriptural insights of Martin Luther, we understand that God governs our culture according to what are traditionally referred to as the two kingdoms.
Earlier this week I returned home from work despondent. I hadn’t had a “bad day.” I was simply overwhelmed. Between mask wearing and mask monitoring, trying to balance my attention between the in-class and the online students, and working to prepare for the end of the most challenging school year in my twenty years of teaching at a Lutheran school, I was just “done” for the day.
We are finally at the time of year where summer is sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting to hop off and come back into our lives for a well-timed visit. In Lutheran schools everywhere, students, staff, and faculty are making the mad dash toward the finish line. This includes securing funding, resetting for the next year, making sure grades are in, and lots of end-of-year classroom celebrations.
“What is your theology of education?”
It’s a question I ask candidates during those infrequent moments I find myself on an interview committee. I challenge you, dear reader, to stop for a moment and ponder that question before continuing. Go ahead … I’ll wait.
A year of changes brings a year of adaptations. How blessed we are to serve our God, who is unchanged in His love, care, and provision for us. He even provides ways for us to spread His love and care to others through loving our neighbors intentionally and consistently in various contexts. As Sunday School teachers, classroom teachers, youth leaders, and children’s ministry champions, we have the chance to engage cross-culturally with our students and young people, while adding richly to our own cultures, in response to the gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many families are beginning this new school year with some version of distance learning taking place in their homes. How can we make this challenging situation a little bit easier for busy parents and help encourage our kids to grow in their faith at the same time? Here are a few ideas to help you set a daily routine for your distance learners!
This fall will be full of muffled sounds. The voices of our students will be muffled by the masks they wear. Teachers in face shields will project even more than usual to get their points across. Socially distant lunchtimes may prove themselves to be more quiet—or possibly louder! Professional development and faculty meetings via Zoom where administrators and teachers remain on mute only until ready and allowed to speak may continue as the norm for a while. Staff, faculty, and students returning to campuses nationwide will be separated by glass shields and assigned seating. Our class time, work time, and downtime will continue to look different.
“Mommy, I can’t sleep. Can I come and snuggle in your bed?” Anyone experiencing this question these days? Are your children experiencing bad dreams? eating disorders? emotional outbursts? lack of attention to homework or even play? negative thoughts? nail biting, hair pulling, repeatedly running to the bathroom? School has not even begun again yet, but signs and symptoms of anxiety in children may be insidiously creeping into your child’s life and the life of your family.
There is no question that we love our children and want to do everything we can to protect them in this uncertain, anxious time of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural for us, as parents and grandparents, to default to protection mode. Older and wiser, yet also facing anxiety in these uncertain times, we may try to protect our children by attempting to solve their problems and distresses for them, reduce or avoid the worries that trigger anxiety in them, or even try to organize and engineer their lives to block worry.
Over the course of the last month, schools throughout the Unites States and the world have found themselves in a situation never before seen in history. In the proverbial blink of an eye, educational institutions were forced to completely reimagine how to teach when students could no longer be physically present in the classroom. Almost overnight, “online learning” became the most widely searched-for educational buzzword, and administrators, teachers, students, and parents alike were left scrambling to find how to best make this new method of learning work.
“We’re on chapter 25 of your book right now! We’ll be finishing it next week.”
This was my greeting as I walked on the sidewalk past our Lutheran school just the other day. I don’t know this student well, but we both know the Messengers, and we shared an instant bond.
Friends, I can’t tell you how thrilling it is for me to know that students are reading The Messengers series! High schools, middle schools, confirmation classes, and the list goes on. It’s my joy to know that even if I’m not in a classroom, Simon is. And I’m here to help all of you make that experience the best it can be.