"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Teaching the ABCs is Missional

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly... ~ Colossians 3:16

Friday I got a new student, which in low income schools happens pretty often.  Their lives are so transient.  I teach 2nd grade.  The average 2nd grader should be able to read things like Magic Tree House easily at this point in the year.  At a school like mine, that's not usually the case.

I read with this student that afternoon, just to try to gage where I wanted her to be as far as reading groups go (they are ability grouped).  Started a few levels below where she should be.  And we had to keep going back.  And back.  And back.  When she came to the word 'have', she tried nav/mav.  And so I stopped her.  I asked her what the first letter in that word was.  She thought and thought and finally came up with H.  I asked her what that letter said.  She said /n/.  And suddenly I realized why she had just completely bombed an end of kinder book.

On Monday I will have to pick up reading with her, but it's pretty safe to say if she doesn't know her consonant sounds, she is barely reading.  It's heartbreaking.

And then when I was in church last night, Chandler was discussing the importance of reading parts of scripture and just stopping to think about their meaning and impact on your life.  And my heart broke for all these students like "Tay".

I have always known the importance of reading for a life skill.  And in the back of my mind I know the historical reality of Christians starting schools and what not.  But it never occurred to me how vital it was for children to learn how to read for their spiritual good.

Think about it.  If students like "Tay" never learn to read, they can never read the Bible.  If they can never read the Bible, they can never truly intimately come to know Christ.  If they can't understand and think about what they read, they can never make sense of how the words on those pages apply to them.  They can't make sense of the God who desperately loves them and desires to know them.  If they can't read it, they will be forever dependent on someone else to feed them spiritually and can never grow.

Reading is foundational for being prepared to know Christ.  I don't know who out of my class of public school students will ever become a Christian.  I do know I pray for their salvation.  And I do know God is sovereign.

But now I know that I have been entrusted with the gift of building up their tools to access God.  How humbling is that?  And it just nourished my heart in so many ways.  It spurred me on.  I'm not just teaching letter sounds or chunking or character traits or inferencing.  I'm teaching kids the skills they will need to hopefully one day understand who God is and what He's done for them.

Reading is a mission field.  And for that I am so very thankful

::This will be linked up for Into the Word Wednesday::


Danielle In The City said...

Such a great way to look at this from a different perspective. It's so easy when teaching to get caught up in all the mess that distracts us from just loving on the kids, and I often felt like if I wasn't seeing a DIRECT character impact or having poignant conversations with my kids that it wasn't really a missional thing, but you're so right! All of it is important! Even the little things that can seem tedious and annoying.

ThistleAshD said...

I have been the. same. way. I have STRUGGLED with my job and feeling like there was much eternal impact besides 'loving' them. It was really one of those moments where God just really encouraged my heart in a way I have really, really needed. I needed to know that my job part mattered.

Marti said...

What a wonderful teacher you must be to see beyond "the job" and into the lives and futures of your students. Your post brought tears to my eyes. May our Lord bless you in your teaching mission.

ThistleAshD said...

So glad it spoke to you :)

I hope God does manage to work through me in their lives too :)

DaisyGirl said...

This is a wonderful post. And you are exactly right! God is using you to prepare their hearts and lives for the day they are exposed to His Word!!

Falen @ Upward Not Inward said...

My heart just breaks for that lil' girl. Thank God he has you right where he needs you to help build her spiritual tool box. What a blessing!! I will be praying for you and for those lil' sweeties that are entrusted to you. Huge hugs to you girlie!

Thanks for linking up with us today!! Love you girl!!

Marsa said...

i cant believe little children dont have the opportunity to learn. it's so heartbreaking! so thankful for wonderful teachers like you.

following :)

The DayLee Journal

ThistleAshD said...

It is seriously so sad sometimes. This week has been one of those harder weeks, unfortunately. Thanks for following Marsa- just checked out your blog- such cuteness there!