Salting the Virtual Classroom
By Donald Clark
You are the salt of the [classroom] (Matthew 5:13).
The pandemic has turned our professional worlds upside down, shaken us and poured us out. These are good and God things because we are the salt of the classroom. How can anyone benefit from the flavor and preserving healing powers of salt unless it is turned upside down, shaken and poured out of its container? The container is our own understanding and expectations. Outside the shaker, we seek and depend on God’s understanding, expectations, and plans for us (Prov. 3:5-6).
Without face-to-face human contact, how do we flavor the virtual classroom experience and create, preserve and heal relationships and personal interaction between the students, their peers and us?
I invite you in Jesus’ name to salt both the virtual and face-to-face classrooms by tithing 10% of classroom instructional time to God. If you teach a fifty-minute class, spend the first five minutes doing what He tells you to do. This will transform the classroom climate and increase student productivity. The activities below are samples of what God had me do to salt His classroom and Scriptures which illustrate them. Most are for elementary students and the last two could be used with both elementary and secondary. These activities feed students’ souls and build relationships. They violate no laws and help students walk out universally accepted values—sharing, listening, humor, rest, creativity, hope, dreams, etc.
His banner over me is love (Song of Songs 2:4)
Ask God and/or your students for a class theme that the whole class can recite together daily as a warm-up exercise. Have students illustrate the theme and make flags or banners to wave at home while saying it together. Several class themes I was given included: Wait and listen, and you will rise up with wings of eagles! Let your light shine! and Take me to the river!
Be still and know I’m God, I will be exalted among the [schools]…. (Psalm 46:10)
Explain to students how a computer may need to be turned off for a minute when too many windows are open. Tell them their brain gets the same way while thinking about so many things and they need to turn it off for one minute and then reboot it. Have them put their heads down, shut their eyes and be still for one minute. (BYOP – Bring Your Own Pillow) When they open their eyes, place a beautiful nature photo on their screen.
Continually think about what is good and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8 ERV)
The Good Book
Write the name of every child on a piece of paper. Daily draw a name out of a unique boot and then set the name aside until all names are drawn. The student whose name is drawn gets one free homework pass and a personal encouraging email letter from the teacher. The chosen student shares with the class one “good thing” going on in his/her life. Write it down and encourage students to email you a photo or picture they have drawn to illustrate their “good thing.” Compile a document containing all the responses and pictures. Post online and/or print and mail to the students every nine weeks.
I will wait for the Lord…and hope in Him (Isaiah 8:17)
The Book of Hope
The format and procedures are the same as the “Good Book” except have the students tell you and the class something they are “hoping for.” In your secret prayer time in your classroom, offer these hopes to the Lord in prayer.
I, the Lord…speak to them in dreams (Numbers 12:6)
The format and procedure are the same as for the “Good Book” except the students individually share their dream(s). “One job I dream of having…. One place I dream of going ….One thing I dream of owning…. One thing I dream of doing to help others….”
But ask the animals and they will teach you…. (Job 12:7)
Have one student every Friday share a family pet or stuffed animal and tell what they most love about it. (Students without pets could be encouraged to adopt a pet rock).
A cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22)
Tell one good joke each day. Have students send in jokes for you to screen and allow them to share. Set guidelines for appropriate content.
For the Lord gives wisdom… (Proverbs 2:6)
Post and briefly discuss a daily “wisdom” quote which God and/or the students have given you related to character development—perseverance, courage, trust, etc. Use multicultural sources. Have students email you personal quotes or quotes found in songs, books, or online which have helped them.
Let’s Pray – Jesus, thanks for turning us upside down and shaking us. Flow salt flow!
Donald Clark is a thirty-three-year public educator of special needs students. He is the founder of the CEAI Houston Area Network and has been its Director for over twenty years. He has received the Texas Lifetime Achievement Award from the HEB Excellence in Education program and has received a state congressional commendation for his work with youth and educators. He has written numerous collections of educator devotionals such as Teacher Take Courage!, The Carpenter’s Classroom and Get Off the Bus. He has been published in the Teachers of Vision magazine and his work featured in Around the Word in 180 Days. He recently launched a new book, Peemail–Pet’s Healing Power, which is available on Amazon.