By Lilly Lewin
It’s back to school time here in the States but this year looks very different thanks to Covid19.
In my part of the country, students have already started back, some virtually and some in person. In the middle of a pandemic there is so much to consider for administrators, parents, teachers and for students too.
So many emotions to add to our pandemic fatigue.
I have one son doing law school totally online this fall when he’d much rather be across the street at the law school going to class in person. I have a friend who chose to retire from teaching, realizing her health issues made it too risky to teach in person this year. I know of other teachers working extra long hours prepping for online learning, in person classes and a combination of both, while waiting to see what will happen in their districts. And already this month, my college alma mater chose to meet in person, but has had to shut down and go online due to an outbreak of cases of the virus.
And then there are the parents and grandparents trying to figure out how to make at-home learning happen if school doesn’t open in person.
As a former teacher, I know how hard it is to teach in the best of times, but if you are a parent, not planning on home schooling your kids, this is a lot to take on while trying to manage your own work either at home or at the office.
So what can we do besides feel frustrated or overwhelmed?
Just typing this makes me stress out on behalf of parents, teachers and students!
So that means it is time to pray!
SIT DOWN AT YOUR DESK…
Open your computer… consider all the people you know who are sitting in front of computers, laptops, iPads or even using their phones to learn or to teach.
Picture friends that you know who are students, friends who are teachers, friends who are parents.
Pray for them as they come to mind.
Make a list of their names to keep on your desk. Ask God to inspire them as they begin the new school year and to keep them safe and healthy if they are going back to school in person. Keep that list of friends on your desk or some where you will see it regularly to remind you to pray for them.
NOW CUP YOUR HANDS… FEEL THE WEIGHT OF….
The Frustration and uncertainty of starting school in the midst of a pandemic.
The Skill it takes to get students to look at screen beyond video games and Netflix.
The Patience it takes to wear a mask all day and try to keep students engaged.
The Intensity of Preparing lessons that are interesting when not in the same room.
The Desire students have to be with their friends and away from their families.
The Loss of ritual and routine.
The Frustration parents are feeling juggling work and teaching.
The Desire of everyone to have things run as normal.
The Loss of normalcy, sports, activities etc.
What else comes up as you consider the things teachers, students, faculty, staff, and parents are all feeling as school begins again?
NOW reach your hands across your desk and put all of these heavy things into the hands of Jesus.
LET JESUS HOLD ALL THE HEAVINESS OF TEACHERS, STUDENTS, PARENTS, PASTORS and ADMINISTRATORS and any thing else you are carrying around regarding the beginning of the school year in your area.
What can you do as a church community to help parents?
What can you do as an individual or small group even if you don’t have kids?
Pay attention to the news in your area about how schools are restarting so you can pray about and even provide what people might need. Pray through the headlines as you read or listen to the news.
Cook a meal or order carry out/take away for a family or single parent
Open your bubble to include a family who needs back up for their students and help them with school work or provide a place to study online while parents are away at work or even at home working.
I know of Churches that are stepping up and becoming study halls for virtual learning as students need safe places to learn and need access to wifi while parents need to be at their jobs. Could your church do something like this?
Provide teachers in your church community and/or neighborhood with a meal, a care package, a note of encouragement as they teach online, or go back to the classroom under strained circumstances.
Imagine the positive. We will get through this. We will go on vacations. We will see better days. Maybe not this year but eventually, our lives will gather a rhythm that will feel much closer to normal than we do now.
Create a mental picture for this for yourself and ask others in your world to do the same. Create a collage, cut out words or phrases, pictures out of magazines to create a vision board type collage of favorites and things that bring you joy.
What do you need the most? Sunshine, A Walk in Nature? Are you dreaming of snow, a fireplace, Fall weather or Spring flowers? depending upon where you live. Do you need a long, social distancing walk with a friend? A Bubble Bath or a Nap? Make time for some of this.
And if something that you’ve been dreaming of or planning cannot happen now, remember that this is temporary and that we will get through this one day at a time.
Create groups, even if it’s on Zoom to both mourn, and to believe for the future with friends. Make sure to re-connect with friends you may have missed in all the stress and problems.
Stop attacking those who you think are doing it wrong. They may be wrong. But this is a long haul problem, and lasso-ing your mind to focus on the good, and on joy, will save you days of pain.
KEEP IT GOING:
Keep an apple on your Desk or near your kitchen sink, or somewhere you will see it often, to use as a reminder to continue to pray for teachers, students, and parents/grandparents, staff and administrators as school begins. And keep creating joy in the midst of everything, one day at a time.
Lord! Give us grace today to love as you love. Help us to love with extravagance. Give us hope today for ourselves and others. Heal our hurts and our hearts today, So we can serve and help those around us. Help us to know that you are enough. And help us live today and everyday in thankfulness.
For all you’ve done, and for all you bless us with. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
When we can all meet again, check out the Back to School Prayer Experience where all the prayer stations are based on school supplies.
©lillylewin and firstname.lastname@example.org