“I’m so worried for my students.” “Only a handful of students are still logging into the online classroom.” “There are students I haven’t been able to get in touch with since the quarantine.” “Some of my students don’t have the best home environment.”
We’ve been seeing these commonly repeated anxieties in the Teach 4 the Heart Facebook page. As a foster mother, these anxieties sounded all too familiar to my heart. I’ve had the difficult process of foster children leaving my home, not knowing if I would ever see or get in touch with them again. Not knowing what their lives would look like when they left my home. I’ve had to put my trust in God over and over again and review the promises He makes in His Word. Here’s what I’ve learned:
God cares about our students even more than we do
““Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.” Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT
God does not forget our students; it simply isn’t possible! He has written the child's name on the palm of His hands. An experience I had really brought this point home for me. My mom was picking up my foster children from a visit at the county office one day for me because I was teaching. The kids ran up and hugged her when they came out. A woman walked up to my mom and said, "It was so good to see those children happy and hugging you. I had them overnight for an emergency placement and they were so sweet. I wish I had had room to keep them. I have been praying for them every night since." I nearly cried when I heard this story. What an amazing reminder that God has known these children longer than I have and has been writing their story from the beginning. He may have specifically put my foster children in her home so that they would have someone praying for them.
It’s no different for your students. Before you were their teacher, God was watching over them. He continues to watch over them today and He will still when they have a new teacher. He truly has their names written on His palms.
Our students will not forget all we have taught them
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6 NLT
It’s so challenging that classrooms were closed, often without teachers having the chance to say goodbye. You may wonder if you taught them enough while you had them. You probably don’t mean academically, either. Teachers do so much more than teach academics! They teach kindness, conflict resolution, perseverance, problem-solving, friendship, overcoming obstacles, resilience, and grit. They give students a voice and tell them they matter.
I once heard a former foster child speak who was fostered by a pastor as an infant. Although she didn’t remember the foster family and although she moved homes multiple times, through her entire life she had a children’s Bible they had given her with an inscription from them in the front. When she was a young adult who had fallen upon hard times, she remembered that children’s Bible and stepped into a church building. She’s a Jesus follower today!
Your students will not forget all that they learned in your classroom. Even if they are out of touch right now, you made a difference in the time that you had them. Your work was not in vain; God can use even the tiniest of seeds.
God can use anything you offer as a blessing
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 NLT
Despite this time of difficulty, please don’t give up! If only one student is logging in and doing assignments, show up for that one student. If your students aren’t completing work, but are participating in the social zoom calls, keep doing them! You’re used to reaching 25 students and you may be reaching only 4 of them now, but what you are doing for those 4 students still matters. You never know how God is going to use this time you are giving your students.
When I get a placement, if I have the biological parents’ permission, we read devotional books, we pray, and we attend church together. With two foster children I had, I was completely amazed by their heart for God. They would ask me questions about God and soak up the stories they learned at church. I had never seen anything like it at their young ages. Years later, I spoke to one of their relatives who told me they had read Children’s Bible stories to the kids when they were toddlers. I’m sure when they were reading the kids these stories, they didn’t expect them to actually remember them. But I fully believe that that is the reason the children already had tender hearts turned toward the spiritual when they moved into my house years later. They did not get tired of doing good and their impact was long-lasting.
Keep showing up for your students in any way that you can. Even if they aren’t completing anything academic, they will be blessed, reassured, and feel loved by any communication they get from you. They will remember that their teacher is thinking about them and cares about them, and it will provide them with some sense of normalcy.
God goes before our students
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalms 139: 5 NLT
This is something that none of us were prepared for. But God knew it was coming. Even if there are certain students you never hear from again this year, God has prepared a place for them. Maybe that means He has hand-picked their teacher and classroom for next year who is going to help them heal from this time of uncertainty. You can be sure that He has a plan for your students’ futures.
We moved from one home to another while fostering two children. There was a home we really wanted in our neighborhood and we were thrilled when our offer was accepted. We quickly accepted an offer on our current home. However, the inspection report on our new home proved frightening and we decided to back out of the sale. We were scared we weren’t going to be able to keep fostering our kids because we would have nowhere to live that was an approved foster home. God prepared the way for us when our buyers allowed us to stay in our current home until we found a new one. We took one day to house hunt, knowing we needed to get in another place ASAP. We found a house with one girl room painted pink and one boy room painted blue. Our kids’ favorite colors. Our offer on the home was accepted just a few days later. I truly believe God prepared the place for us and our children. In fact, the rooms were already painted for them!
Wherever your students are going, remember that God has gone before.
It’s so challenging to live in this time of uncertainty. That challenge is lessened when we fix our gaze upon the One who is certain of whatever is going to happen next. He is a good Father and we can trust in Him and His provision over our students during this time.
If you're struggling with the lack of control in this situation, check out the article Relinquishing Control in the Midst of Chaos.
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