Yesterday, I was in line at Target.
In the afternoon, on tax-free weekend. Basically, because I am a crazy person.
I had various Washi tapes, rewards, stickers, and a US map hanging out on the counter. Anthony had taken Elise to the car to get her loaded.
There was a lady in front of me. She looked typical of most of the women in my affluent, business thriving community. Nice clothes, nice hair, expensive purse. Not that any of those things are wrong, but her actions were in my eyes.
She turns to me, who obviously only has things a teacher would buy, and says, “What Kindergartner do you know that would possibly use 8 packs of crayons in a year?”
In my head, I wondered if she had ever seen a 5 year old color, or much less the 9 year olds in my class. Kids are rough on supplies.
She proceeded to say that her child’s previous teacher stockpiled all the stuff and the kids had more than enough. She once asked said teacher why they need so much, and the teacher told her that sometimes students go through things quickly, and sometimes kids don’t have or bring all they need.
To which the mom in line told me, ” How is that my problem?”
I kept my mouth quiet and tried to muster something congenial to say.
Did this lady obviously have enough money to get her child what he needed? Of course. Were $4.00 worth of crayons over the year going to break the bank? No.
I wanted to get on my soapbox. As a teacher of 7 years, I have had a front row seat to the whole spectrum about how people feel about my profession.
They love us when we dodge a bullet, shield a child from a tornado, or reach that unreachable kid. Out of the same mouths we are criticized when we ask for funding for our students, don’t measure up to a standardized test, or ask for 8 packs of crayons. We are praised for when we perform well, but when there is a problem with the student, we usually have to take the blame, whether warranted or not.
I have heard all of this stuff for YEARS. I still press on, like millions of other teachers. I will continue to do what my profession demands of me, but this year it is different.
I have a beautiful 2 month old daughter at home.
Through much prayer, reassurance, and support, I have decided to keep teaching. Financially, it’s what is best for my family. On a spiritual level, I know it was what I was put on the Earth to do. My mission field is a little school 35 minutes away from my comfortable suburban neighborhood. The kids I teach don’t come from affluence, but their parents do the best they can. To me, that doesn’t mean they deserve any less. I know I am exactly where Jesus needs me, and even though at times, it would be easier to work closer to home, I choose to stay because I believe in the community I work in.
Now, more than ever in my tenure as a student and teacher, I realize how much more of a sacrifice my profession is. As I thought about it, I can’t even remember a teacher, male or female, k-12 who didn’t have a child.
In the coming weeks, teachers will be transitioning back into school life. Their contract may say August 13th, but they will be in their room hours on end putting up decorations, books, and organizing desks, materials, and supplies, that they purchased themselves after their small classroom budget was gone. They will be planning lessons, cutting lamination,and making presents to help the first day go easier, while watching TV with family or rocking their baby. They will pore over their new class list, figuring out ways to reach and teach the different types of students.
I am not saying all of these to spite the Target lady. Bless her heart, she probably didn’t know any better. I am saying this to say, we need to pray for our teachers. I know there are lots of noble, servant hearted, draining professions, but as a mom and a teacher, I am feeling the burden to pray for my fellow teachers.
I truly believe it is a calling and a mission to love, serve, and educate children. I also believe the only way I can do my job effectively is through prayer and through my community of support.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[a] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.- Philippians 1:3-10
I pray for teachers getting ready to go back to school. I pray that you refresh their heart and mind to serve you to the best of their ability. I pray you go before the classes they will have and prepare the hearts and minds of each student to learn. I pray you provide them with support through fellow teachers, friends, and families. I pray you provide their own children with loving people and programs to take care of them while mom or dad is working. I pray that you can help them find time to devote to their spouse and children. I pray you give them wisdom, grace, and peace as they meet new challenges. I pray that whatever happened the previous years of teaching that may have left a bitter taste in their mouth, will pass away and they will be revived with joy. I pray you give them confidence to meet any new challenges, and help them to feel appreciated in what they do. I pray you provide for their needs. I pray that each child that walks through their doors will feel loved and special. I pray that they will rely on YOUR strength through it all.
So, if I could say what I wanted to say to the Target lady, this is probably what it would entail. I would tell her that as a teacher all kids are different. Some use all their supplies in two weeks, others are responsible, some don’t bring any at all. Yes, sometimes teachers have reserves, but I guarantee you after a season of science projects or interactive math lessons, those will be gone.
If you feel that hateful about it, then just bring what you feel is appropriate for your child. Your child’s teacher will pick up the slack. She can get the extra crayons. She or He will probably be at Wal-mart anyway buying cinnamon and labels to make an interactive plant model for school. because the district bought Science kits are perishable. They will probably have their baby and own kindergartner in tow, and pick up some Expo markers for their child’s teacher, because the struggle is REAL.
Teachers will press on, and many parents will help along the way. They will volunteer their time to plan parties. They will bring sharpies and even maybe flair pens or Clorox wipes to their child’s teacher. More importantly, the great ones will pray because I know that I am praying for the babysitter my daughter will be spending her days with. They know the influence and power of a great teacher. It outweighs that of a hateful parent by far.
As for Target lady, I know you will run into those great teachers and parents, in January probably. That’s when your child will inevitably be out of crayons and they won’t be as cheap as they are in August ( WHICH IS WHY WE ASK FOR THEM THEN. TO SAVE YOU MONEY). We will all press on, but hopefully it will be harder than your child will press on their crayons.
To my teaching brothers and sisters, here are my verses for the year. May you make them your own and know that my family is praying for you .
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”- Proverbs 31:26
When our daughter is in Kindergarten we will buy you whatever you want and include and Sonic card, because we know that the investment and love you provide for our baby is priceless.