As we began the first day back at school after a wonderful Christmas break, I met with the teachers for our weekly prayer meeting. After spending some time in prayer with them, I asked them to focus on the last day of school or the finish line as I called it. The second semester is considerably longer than the first semester which means teachers have more time to teach, train, and transfer knowledge to their students. Why then, would we want to start the first day back at school looking at the finish line? Why not start by looking at today, or this week, or even this month? Why start by looking at the end? I have learned through experience as a teacher that if you don’t know where the finish line is and where students need to end, it will be impossible to ever get there. Teachers must start with the end in mind. Here are a few helpful thoughts on how to begin with the end in sight!
1. You must know where you want to end. This is the finish line. Whether this means finishing the textbook or making sure you cover every necessary topic; you must know what the finish line looks like. For most curriculums, this is clearly spelled out for you. If not, take some time to consider what this means for your class and write down where you need to be when school comes to an end.
2. Once you know where the finish line is, you have to figure out how you are going to get there. Someone once said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. This is certainly true in the classroom. Knowing what you need to accomplish is a great start, but now you must figure out how you plan to accomplish that. If the finish line means completing the book, what is it going to take to achieve that? How many chapters a month or how many pages a week is needed for you to make it to your destination? You must have a plan to reach the finish line.
3. Along the path to the finish line, there will be class interruptions, holidays from school, days of distraction, and days where you just don’t get everything done that you want to get done. When this happens, don’t give up on reaching the finish line, simply re-evaluate your plan and make the necessary changes to keep you on track. Let’s be honest: being a teacher is a crazy job that is extremely time demanding. It is easy to go into survival mode where you are doing everything you can to simply stay afloat. It is so vitally important to get healthy breaks and times where you can step back, look at everything with a clear mindset, and adjust your plan to keep you on track to reaching your goals.
I have never been on a cross country road trip. Who knows, maybe someday I will set out on one. If I were to attempt this endeavor, I am confident that I would begin my journey, knowing where I want to end up. I would study and chart my routes and put in place timelines to get to each destination along my route so I can be sure to end up at my final destination on time. This is the same approach that I challenge myself and our teachers to take. Focus on finishing, create a plan, adjust your plan along the way, and you will reach the end and have achieved what you set out to do.
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Bro. Fanara serves as the Principal of North Valley Baptist Schools. He and his wife, Tabitha, are graduates of NVBS and have been faithfully working in the school for thirteen years.