David Schmus | Executive Director of Christian Educators
“I am pleased to introduce our new SavED by Grace editor, Jessica Cabeen! She is stepping in for Dr. Bill Ziegler, who started SavED by Grace and established our flagship blog on a solid foundation. As you can read in her bio, Jessica is an author, sought-out conference speaker, and accomplished educational leader. She was already one of our top SavED by Grace authors, and has a gift for connection and communicating practical wisdom. I am thrilled that she has accepted this role and am confident that under her leadership, SavED by Grace will grow in reach, quality, and impact for Jesus in the lives of educators in their schools.”
Ground Rules for Returning to School
By Jessica Cabeen
School supplies are unwrapped, curriculum plans are fresh without edits, classrooms have posters and welcome signs on the walls and halls. August is always an exciting time for educators. The possibilities, the opportunities, and the hope for our students is new and exciting. Families and students walk into your classrooms looking for your wisdom, courage and support throughout the year. You have a renewed passion and excitement about connecting and collaborating with your colleagues and there is a new season of hope in August that might have been dull this past May or June.
These feelings are the norm, the challenge is sustaining the hope, confidence and courage throughout the year. If you start too fast, there is a likelihood you might burn out or blow up before second semester. These past few years have taught us many lessons, but none as strong as leaning into our faith through all circumstances. In the busyness of back to school educators can forget the importance of including God’s word in our daily lives. Sometimes it isn’t as much forgetting but finding intentional ways to build habits and routines around these practices.
And then November hits…some school supplies are missing, curriculum plans are revised or scrapped, posters have a layer of dust and the halls might not be as joyful as when the year started. Discouragement occurs in this profession, but it is how we handle it that turns it to failure or an opportunity to learn and flourish.
So how do we maintain the beginning of the year joy and excitement throughout the year?
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
1. How you start the day, sets the tone.
When you wake up do you go to God, or go to your cell phone? Starting the day with meditation, scripture reading, journaling, or verse memorization allows you to prioritize your time and set your intentions on your personal faith before turning to your professional responsibilities. Need ideas or suggestions? The Back to School Edition of Teachers of Vision magazine has many examples of educator’s rituals and routines of building their own faith while empowering their students and those they serve.
Extension opportunities for this ground rule could include joining a Bible study group or working with a small group of educators to spend time together in prayer and encouragement.
“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
2. Social Feeding and Reading.
Review, or set boundaries with social media. It can become a crutch or something you do to fill time. But when overdone, or the topics, themes and things you are seeing take you away from your focus and priorities, it can be unproductive and time consuming. Be mindful of who you are following and what information is feeding your mind and taking up time in your day. August is also a good time to do a sweep of your feeds and maybe snooze, or delete accounts that are no longer providing a sense of God’s love in the words and pictures posted.
Extension opportunities on this ground rule could look like setting firm limits on your social media use and replacing the time you would be spending on your phone with reading or connecting with friends and family.
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5)
3. Grant Yourself Permission to Rest.
When the school year starts our priorities have a habit of shifting. We go from evening family time to getting home past dinner time. Making sure to set boundaries between work and home is essential to having the stamina to thrive throughout the year. Draw a line in your planner that signifies the end of the school day and the start of your personal life. Get more sleep than you think you need, and make sure you continue to incorporate meaningful family time in your week.
Extension opportunities for this rule might include setting regular sleep routines to ensure that you are getting enough sleep to not only function, but flourish in your day.
In this work of serving others, we can take a wrong turn and translate that work into sacrificing ourselves. Prioritizing your time to focus on God’s calling in your life sets the foundation for the school year ahead. Giving yourself the permission to cultivate your faith will also continue to establish your calling and your worth in this work. So as your students return to the classroom, don’t forget that as adults we always have time, space and room to learn.
Christian Educators-do you have a passion to write? Do you enjoy journaling about how God is working in your life? Would you like to share these words with others?
SavED by Grace is looking for new contributors to our blog. If this is an opportunity that speaks to you, please reach out and we can work together to share your words and heart for God with others. SavED By Grace blog guidelines.
Jessica Cabeen is the Principal for Alternative Educational Program in Austin, Minnesota. She was the 2021 ED Dive National Principal of the year and In 2017 she was awarded the Minnesota National Distinguished Principal. Jessica is the author of Hacking Early Learning, Lead with Grace, Unconventional Leadership, and co-authored Balance Like A Pirate. When not at bus duty or checking in with students and teachers in classrooms and the hallways she speaks at schools, districts and conferences about leadership, learning, and how to balance everything in-between.