Joy in the Classroom
By Karen C. Seddon
My favorite place to go and pray is at the water’s edge. Prayer walking on the beach reminds me that joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Each day is a new day in the Lord. Displaying the Fruit of the Spirit in a public school classroom while honoring the laws of our great nation is our calling. Have you ever noticed that the nine fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” are really the fruit of the Spirit (singular). When we truly live out our faith, all nine are displayed as one. I don’t know about you, but, displaying all the fruit at once, just doesn’t happen for me. However, I know that it is God’s will for us to display His fruit, His way, by depending on His Holy Spirit to enable us. As we seek to display all fruit collectively, I would like to take the classroom-eye view of what it looks like to have JOY in the classroom.
Joy is defined as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; elation and a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. When applied to our classrooms, it defines part of our high calling. We experience great delight or happiness when something good or satisfying occurs. There is keen pleasure for our students and classes when learning takes place and students are achieving. The whole reason we become educators is to make a difference and when we do, that’s joy! Perhaps one of the greatest reasons teachers don’t see their high calling or get discouraged is because the joy of impact is not always apparent. Students don’t necessarily tell us that they understand. Many times, we don’t even know if they “get it” until they are tested. Too often we don’t even realize how much we meant to them until years later. Isadora Duncan said, “I do not teach children. I give them joy.” Being joyful and giving joy are symbiotic. How can we as Christian educators be purposeful about giving joy?
Rather than a state of mind, I would like to have us consider joy as a gift to give. Walking in our classrooms each day, taking time to pray for joy and asking God’s help to give joy on purpose is an awesome way to begin each day throughout the year. These are a few simple questions we can start with as we arrive in our classrooms: How can I give joy today to my students? How can I display the fruit of joy in my life? How can I spread joy to my colleagues and administration? Being joyful is contagious and often brings a sense of curiosity to others. Their wonderment of how you can be so joyful in difficult times as well as good times can only be answered by being Jesus with skin on. I think of the thousands that Jesus purposely touched with joy and how they were better for their encounter with Him. Are our students better because of their encounter with us? Do we display the joy of the Lord in our lives? Only with the power of His Spirit, of course. When we do, we display the fruit of joy, against which there is no law!
As I looked up joy in the Word, I was delighted to see hundreds of times this powerful word was used but was most impressed with the shouts of joy given by God’s people for what He had done for them. Let us be teachers of the Book and have shouts of joy in our hearts for His incredible gift of becoming an educator.. Be encouraged to purposefully plan how you can give joy throughout the school year and display this powerful fruit in your life. These are a few of my favorite verses of joy.
How have you experienced joy in your classroom? What advice would you give others?
Karen C. Seddon is presently a retired educator serving in ministry through CEAI, Christian Educators Association International, to her public school brothers and sisters. Karen’s 44 years in education include 25 classrooms (3rd-8th) and 19 years coaching teachers and students to integrate creative technologies. Her passion is to encourage, equip and empower educators to live out their faith in the public schools legally and gracefully. She is the voice of the Around the Word in 180 Days blog/podcast, author of two devotionals for educators and a prayer advocate for Christian Educators Association International.