We are at the halfway point of the summer break . . . when I start hearing this common refrain—“Where did summer go?”
In June, I encouraged you to rest, take a break, enjoy the summer, and revive your hearts and bodies. Now it’s time to ready yourself, your colleagues, and the school community for the year ahead. Hopefully, this pandemic is ebbing away, but it appears that we’ll be navigating another school year with health and safety protocols affecting our plans and decision-making. Likewise, we seek wisdom as we navigate our various cultural and political milieus and consider how to best create opportunities for intellectual development, community impact, and societal change.
The first step is to plant our feet on solid ground. As we prepare for another irregular school year, I’m reminded of two passages recalling how the Lord directs our journey and provides when our world seems out of our control:
- Proverbs 20: 24—“How can we understand the road we travel? It is the Lord who directs our steps.”
- James 1: 17—“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadow.”
Therefore, Dan Beerens’ most recent CACE blog, “What Kind of School?” is so important. He encourages us to corporately tell stories, revisit our past, and solidify our future commitments. He writes,
In this post, I have suggested a strategy: to revisit the mission, story, and purpose of your school as a community. There has never been a more important time to do so. Like the Israelites of old who told and retold the stories of God’s faithfulness, the stories of deep conviction and sacrifice of your school community need to be heard anew.
Likewise, as we plan our work for the year, we must consider the well-being of our colleagues and their fulfillment. Matt Beimers gave suggestions for this in his post, “Retaining Educators.” I would encourage us to respond to his recommendations with more than simple assent or lip-service but to truly dig deep, to create a better profession.
Much focus will be placed on student well-being and re-acculturation this summer as we prepare, but my hope is that you would start with the educators in your sphere of influence. We know the incredible impact of the classroom teacher on student learning and well-being. Matt reminds us of why we should care about teacher welfare:
There are several reasons teacher retention should be a priority for Christian school leaders. Keeping good teachers affects students’ academic growth, staff morale, the ability to align classroom practices with the school’s mission and vision, and teacher replacement costs. Bottomline, high teacher retention is critical because it is good for students and their learning (Ronfeldt, Loeb & Wychoff, 2013)
You may or may not be an administrator, but like my friend Jon Eckert consistently reminds me, “we are all leaders.” Look at your role, responsibility, and opportunity. Seek to clarify your purpose and impact. And always let Scripture sink deep into your soul as you trust God’s path and provision for the year ahead.