Grace impels excellence. St. Paul enjoins the Christians in Colossae, “to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God our Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Furthermore, he calls the Corinthian church to engage in even the most mundane of human activities, eating and drinking, “or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
Recently, some of my students asked me a question I’ve heard dozens of times since I began teaching. Perhaps it was because of the circumstances driving the question or perhaps it was because I’d already had the spark of an idea for this blog post—regardless, I answered their question differently than I have before.
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.
It’s Lutheran Schools Week! A teacher friend of mine describes this as a time to celebrate Lutheran schools—for each school to remember its connection to other Lutheran schools around the country and across the globe. It is a time to reflect and focus on the mission of Lutheran schools to serve people. So what does that mission mean for children with disabilities, and how might it apply? Is there room for children with developmental disabilities in a Lutheran school setting?
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed school teachers and administrators in the unenviable position of making extraordinarily complex decisions with incomplete and changing scientific data, clashing public health and political leadership and threats, extremely caring but concerned parents, anxious children, and potentially competing personal priorities—protecting their livelihood and preserving their own health and wellness while caring for our children.
“As the head of the family should teach … ”
Teaching at home is a concept that has rocked the world of young families this year. Honestly, not even simply teaching at home, but being at home while trying to navigate the rest of life is a lot of work!
A diverse classroom fosters a safe space for launching outreach. Our schools serve as outposts to the community, often providing our neighbors’ first interactions with God’s people. The “diversity” buzzword is not new to education, as many teachers, administrators, and homeschool parents have been working to incorporate diversity into the classroom for years.
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.
A new third grade teacher in Wisconsin, Monica was in the process of getting her classroom ready this summer when she began going through the books she inherited from previous teachers. Her classroom had no Jesus time books, and her set of hymnals had clearly been well-loved by children for many years (we all know how hymnals get toted to chapel).