Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Creating Peace in December

Nov 30, 2020

“Peace is always beautiful.” 

Walt Whitman

Christmas was the highlight of the year when I was a kid, and it continued to be throughout my young adult years. Actually, I liked Christmas a lot until I was in my late 30’s. Those were the days when I was teaching and/or playing music about 14 hours every day.  The Christmas season can be agonizing for church musicians and music teachers … and I was both.

My breaking point came the year I directed 35 dress rehearsals and concerts in 15 days. Insanity, I know. As I was walking away from the last performance, I heard myself say, “I hate Christmas.”
Then I knew I had a problem, and that problem had become a monster.
There had been no time to bake favorite goodies, or to listen to Christmas music just for the sake of enjoyment (vs. performance); no time to actually appreciate the shopping process, or for reminiscing as I decorated the tree, or to leisurely revel in the artwork of my beautiful Christmas books. Literally, everything had taken its place on the to-do list which I looked forward to like a root canal.
Something had to change.

Processing this with a colleague one day, I made a decision. Every day – several times each day, if necessary – I would go into the bathroom, close the door, and stare at myself eye-to-eye in the mirror. (Awkward!)  When I was sure I had my undivided attention, and using my firmest teacher-voice, I would order myself: “You WILL keep your peace this Christmas! Repeat after me: I WILL KEEP MY PEACE!”
It was a decision I made as a means of controlling my thoughts, and my words and my actions.                  
It actually worked!




The Hebrew word for peace is familiar to us: shalom. It means completeness, soundness, well-being, wholeness …  perfect peace is when nothing is missing and nothing is broken.

We all realize that a quiet classroom is not necessarily a peaceful one and a loud classroom is not necessarily void of peace.

Let’s not believe the lie that an easy, comfortable school-life, with plenty of the latest teaching paraphernalia brings peace.

Every Truth has a counterfeit. How might counterfeit peace look in your classroom?

I ask myself: what can I do in my classroom to create an atmosphere of peace – especially when much of the culture seems to be in a franticdecemberfrenzy? What can I do to create a safe space for my students who are learning remotely? Do I need to change the way I interact with them so that they feel safer?  How can I engage them in ways which promote the joy of learning – even distance learning? Could my classroom actually be a confusion-free zone, with minimal anxiety and stress? If so, how? This is my challenge, and yours!

Take a couple of minutes right now and ask yourself these questions:
Am I at peace?
If I’m not at peace, I certainly cannot create a peaceful space for my students.
If I am at peace, what are some practical things that I can do to express and share my peace with my students?

Practical Peace-making

Here are some practical things which I have practiced through the years. Making these kinds of changes have unquestionably created a more peaceful December in my heart, in my classroom and in my home:

  1. Don’t schedule anything you don’t have to schedule. December is busy enough as is.
  2. Intentionally schedule personal time. My soul needs time to catch up with my body!
  3. Intentionally schedule family time. You need it; your kids need it.
  4. Do things with your kids that truly meant something to you when you were a kid
    i.e. continue traditions, but not empty ones which lead to stress.
  5. Be all there. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing and to whomever is right in front of you. Peace is more precious than perfection.
  6. Do quiet things, on purpose – read, listen to music (create an atmosphere of peace).
  7. Don’t over-spend or go into debt!  Give heart gifts.
  8. Nurture the reality of Christmas – relationship with God through Jesus
  9. Pray for grace for the season! We all need grace, grace and more grace 🙂

Glory to God in the highest! Peace in your (remote) classroom, and goodwill to all students and staff!

About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!