Please Join Me…Prayers for a Flipped Year

I am going to go ahead and say this outloud. I predict a flipped school year in 2021-22. Who will understand what I mean? I hope everyone who has a child, owns a business, attends events, teaches children, coaches a team, runs a restaurant…basically, I hope everyone will see this revolution unfold along with me. I am partly predicting this for my own sanity and because I recently found a list of prayer requests that I had sat on my desk sometime just past the middle of the last school year. This list would not make sense to share and would seem so insignificant to many, but let me just say this…all 3 requests have been granted because God is so dang good!

Near this sticky note, I found another. It’s a thing with me and my aging mind, something my grandmother has always done and I now do. Write nearly everything down. I wrote ‘Reexperience your reference point’. Now, I wish I could remember where I read that first, what podcast I heard that on, or what brilliant person told me to do this?! I found several references to it online but just know I would like to give credit to Dr. Santos at Yale. Y’all, take the online class, read the book, read the author notes when you want to be done because that is where the good stuff lives. 

My prediction for the year is something I want to claim now. Pray over it with me, will you? Let’s have an army of prayer warriors after this one!! As a middle school teacher, I have witnessed awkwardness. I know what it looks like and experience it on a daily basis. It is the age. The underdeveloped frontal lobe. The long, detailed story about something truly brilliant and intellectual they watched on youtube and the little video game inspired dance move they do when they walk away from you. The students I meet who have had to grow up too quickly and already don’t know how to relax…all the way to the one who always draws wolves and brings you homemade gifts from their bus stop. The wannabe Kardashian girls and the boy who looks like a surfer even though we live nowhere near a beach. I love them all! Well, this year, they are different. 

In all fairness, we are all different. We have been living in the unknown. Shopping online and now that some of us are back in the grocery store, we don’t know how to act. Do we get close enough to hug a friend we just ran into or is that allowed? We are walking around in invisible, unspoken social bubbles that have isolated us for the last year plus and we don’t know what the reentry drill looks like. In the top-notch school where I teach, kids have lost their sense of what is acceptable but haven’t we all? I had to decide about a week ago that I was going to get out of the negative space in my head about it. Despite the TikTok challenges unfolding right before my eyes. Yes, they are true. I have had property stolen right off my shelf behind my desk, a lovely penis made of the pipe cleaners we were using for a project left as a gift for me on someone’s way out of my classroom (we witness a lot of male genitalia drawings but this little blatant gift drop off took…well, balls), we lost multiple soap dispensers in one week, kids don’t seem to have a sense of spatial reasoning in the hallways, disrespect is off the charts, and I could list all of the other infractions but it just starts to sound like we have no control and we have got the best of the best staff and administration. Despite the crazy, there has to be a silver lining.

So here is what the request is. Pray with me and claim this. A flipped year! This springtime behavior we are witnessing is their reentry. The amount of brain development that would have occurred socially during the tightest of shutdown times will hopefully catch up and the maturity and restraint they typically have when school starts will show after Christmas. They will settle in. They will know their worth. They will know we care. They will let go of hostility and animosity from watching the news, hearing so many opinions that have clashed about who is doing things right or wrong in our world and they would just know they are in a safe place with people who love them. That they will feel supported and nurtured in the way school should feel. That we all normalize asking for mental support, asking questions and trusting someone will take you seriously, and accepting that others may not have the same convictions and approaches to coping as you or your family and that is ok. 

Revisiting the reference point of all that was wrong when all of this started and realizing that we have had heroes all around us the whole time and still do. People have lost so much love in their lives. Students have had to experience things most adults wouldn’t have been made privy to when they were young. Grandparents have died alone. Adults have lost their jobs. Stability has been rocked. Children have gone without contact with very many adults or other children and some are not in great situations to have been alone for these lengths of time.

If I revisit my reference points for major events in my life, I can always see where growth has occurred. I often see where growth can still happen. Socially, I am behind. I have a wonderful group of friends but I only socialize with a few and not normally anywhere but via text or possibly 2 out of the 5 minutes between classes when I get to visit with my neighbor teacher. We are probably all behind socially right now. I don’t meet new people well. I have a real mic dropper of an introduction, especially when inevitably in some sort of naturally script of conversation written 1,000 years ago, someone asks what my husband does for a living, and people don’t know how to respond so I usually avoid situations where I might meet anyone new.

I am no instagram influencer, and I do not know the latest trends. I just want to start a movement of prayer in our community concerning giving others a break. Loving our kids’ quirks and supporting their needs. Loving our regained freedoms and believing we will continue to see more open up. Not giving up on the squirrliest of students, neighbors, or store clerks. Showing patience with ourselves and others. As teachers, we often feel that we finally start to learn personalities and details about students by Christmas. Let’s use that to our advantage and love them more openly by simply attempting to connect with them. It will pay dividends, and I am thanking God in advance for what I know can happen as the year ends.

Published by jjofarley

Mother of 3 handsome boys, we lost our main man suddenly on April 27th, 2015. We are grace-filled believers that are a walking example of God's love. I teach 7th graders STEM and chase these boys to every sports field I can!

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