Dear First Year Teacher

First Year Teacher,

I know you’re excited and scared. That’s okay. Many people have made it through this first year, and you will too! Here are a few tips I have learned over this last year, I hope it helps.

  1. Don’t let anyone quench that hunger to make a difference.
  2. Keep the enthusiasm. You’ll need it to push through the hard days.
  3. Never forget that the children know a great deal more than the world gives them credit for. Learn from them each and every day.
  4. Take the time to know them. They can turn your world upside down.
  5. On the days they say they hate you, or their actions tell you so, it’s going to be okay. I promise you that. Your mistake today will NOT make them failures. It does not make you a failure either.
  6. You have wonderful ideas. Yes, some of them will fail miserably; others will blossom into something you’ve never dreamed.
  7. Listen to the wisdom of others; the veteran teachers have some wonderful stories to tell.
  8. There are some things you will have to learn on your own and that’s okay.
  9. It’s just your first year honey, breathe.
  10. Take a day for yourself when you need it. Your mental, physical, and emotional health are all more important than turning in grades, or having perfect lesson plans. No, this doesn’t mean to call in sick all of the time, but it does mean that sometimes you miss a deadline, or the lesson is the bare minimum. You CANNOT give those kiddos what they need when you starve yourself all of the time.
  11. With that said… give those kids all of the love you have. I promise you they will give it back one-hundred times over.
  12. Be silly with your class. If you teach younger grades, take a recess time and play with them, or walk with them. Let them see you as a person (within the professional boundaries needed).
  13. If you don’t already have a de-stressing hobby, get one. You need something you can do that will distract your mind from teaching and help your body relax. Some great ideas are as follows: exercising, painting, blogging, writing, reading, coloring, or sewing. There are lots of great ideas out there, just find something. Finding something that you can throw yourself into, other than teaching, will help keep you from burning out.
  14. For goodness’ sake, shut your door and teach!



A Second Year Teacher that is still learning too!



“Jesus, Thank you for this food and drink. Help it to nourish my body, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.”

Such a short prayer, simple, and to the point, and so easily forgotten. As with many young Christians, I grew up praying before each meal. I was taught to do this; while I don’t remember the reason that was presented, I knew it was important. I have fond memories surrounding that prayer in particular. While family gatherings are often a mixture of bitter and sweet, I have always loved them – for the most part at least. My grandfather always used to call on me to pray over the family meal because of how quickly I prayed. I sped through the prayer just as you would the ABC’s when you suddenly forget what comes after R, or some other alphabetical situation that befuddles you. Theoretically, I was happy to pray, it comforted my conscious. “Look at me Lord, I remembered You before partaking in a blessing.” I felt like a good Christian when praying for my meal, like I was somehow holier for speaking a few words before shoving morsels in my mouth. If I accidently skipped this prayer, I would always feel guilty, thinking that suddenly God would be disappointed in me.

As I grew older, I found ways to recite this prayer with discretion. My friends at the lunch table did not share this particular ritual, and I’ve never been one for pushing my thoughts on others. I kept it quiet, closed my eyes, thought the prayer, and then would move on to eating. There was even a time where I struggled being ashamed of this prayer. What if people thought it weird or unnecessary? Now, I’m not even sure if my friends noticed the silence. Over the years, I have been blessed with friends that respected this time, and would automatically quiet down until I finished and looked up. Somehow, this helped my fear subside. I realized it didn’t really matter what people thought. We all have our own ways of doing things.

While I am no longer ashamed, something new has begun to run over my mind lately. One day, I was sitting, relaxing, I don’t even remember what I was thinking about when a thought hit me. That day in particular, I had prayed several times for the different meals I had eaten. I realized that each time, I had said that prayer without even thinking about it. The words flowed over my mouth just as your muscle memory allows you to punch in the code on your phone. God showed me the intent of my heart that day and it hurt.

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2

My prayers that day were no more righteous than the person who doesn’t pray over their meal. In fact, I would go to say my prayer, because of the motive, was not righteous at all. It was not the incense unto the Lord that I want my prayers to be (Psalm 141:2). It was hypocritical. I prayed thanksgiving to the Lord just like the Pharisees did (Luke 18:9-14), so that people could hear me, so that I could hear me. I truly was not thankful for the food that Jesus had given to me. Scripture says that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17) I may be wrong, but I consider food to be a good gift. A gift that I ought to truly be thankful for. In everything, I should give thanks. It’s easy to give thanks in the great things. It’s easy to remember that I should give thanks in the hard times. Yet, those days that seem mundane, the average ones where nothing sticks out, those are the days that I often forget just how good I have it.

I choose to continue praying over my meals, not with a guilty heart, nor with a habitual heart, but with one that will grow into a thankful heart. Maybe praying over your meal is not necessary, maybe it is. I am not God. I look to our example and see that Jesus blessed the meals that He ate many times in scripture. However, while learning about the heart of my God, I want to say this. I do not believe that the prayer is what really matters to our Lord Jesus. He knows the motive behind the action, and someone with a thankful heart is what pleases Him.

I pray that the Lord will continue to soften our hearts to the motives behind our actions, that we may have a heart after His.

How does Praise affect Sin?

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Isaiah 6:1-7

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with train he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

I find it interesting, that after witnessing the continual praise of the seraphims unto God, that the man of God, a man that God would show Himself unto, found himself to be unclean. Isaiah saw God. God allowed Isaiah to actually see Him! Yet this man of God claimed to be unclean – note that the word unclean here relates to being unclean religiously – this will tie back in later. Some things come to my mind here:

  • Had Isaiah realized just then, in that moment, the majesty and greatness of God? Had he served God until that point only to just then fully grasp Who God is? Did he just then start to understand what kind of God we have?
  • Was he a man of unclean lips due to his lack of praise and worship unto God? Were the people he was surrounded by of unclean lips because they did not praise God the way they should?


  • When his lips are purified of his sins, the seraphim uses a coal from the altar.
    • The altar is used to sacrifice or to burn incense (praises) unto God.
      • Psalm 141:2

Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

  • The coal from the altar was a live coal. That means it was hot or alive so-to-speak.
    • Only living praise will have the sin-purging effect.
    • If your praise isn’t true, living, breathing out of you, it won’t have the effect God created it to have.
  • The coal of praise purged him of his “uncleanness”.
  • Praise is what took the iniquity away.
  • Notice also that the seraphim, a majestic being of God would not actually touch the coal itself. The seraphim used tongs to grab the coal, but he placed it completely upon Isaiah’s lips.
    • Does this point to the fact that the angel’s cannot praise God in the same way that we are to praise God?

Luke 17:11-19

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God., and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Isaiah was a man of God. He believed in God, but still had impurities.

These ten lepers were obedient and believed in God’s power! They were cleansed of their uncleanness.

We are cleansed of our sins by Jesus Christ.

The leper that came back, was not only cleansed but was made whole. His FAITH made him whole. Faith here relates to his “religion” being dependent upon Jesus wholly for his salvation. Remember where Isaiah’s uncleanness had to do with being unclean religiously… Could it be that Isaiah was unclean religiously because he did not fully depend upon God for his salvation?

If we do not fully depend upon God for our salvation, we will not praise Him as we ought. Only through our praise our we made whole. We can be saved from our sin but still fight with the aftermath of our choices. Only our praise will purge us from all the side effects of our sins. Only our praise to God will take away our iniquity. However, while we can be saved, we may still suffer. Only through faith can we truly be made whole.