Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Teachers as Blessers

Mar 22, 2021

“A blessing is an impartation of life which empowers me to become the one I’ve been created to be.

Mark Sandford

Bless You

Credit: Photo by Joes Valentine on Unsplash

“Bless you!” we say to a student when they sneeze.

“Bless your heart” we say to someone for whom we feel sorry.

“Someone blessed me with a gift certificate.”

“What a blessing it was to have their help.”

“Would you please say the blessing before we eat?”

During a trip to Israel in 2003, I discovered that what I had been doing in my classroom for years was actually blessing students. (I’ll return to the Israel story in a moment.) Early in my teaching career, it became glaringly apparent that I didn’t like every one of my students. Can you relate?! Of course, there were those who were more enjoyable than others for various reasons. But I’m talking about students who truly irritated me. Have you ever had one of those? My reaction to them bothered me. I didn’t like my attitude and I knew that each kid in my class would see it … probably more clearly than I could see myself.

As a music teacher, every student in the school was in my classroom at least twice each week. I intentionally began to make behavioral changes that would (hopefully) set me up for a sincere heart change.

Change #1: learn every child’s name so that I could personally greet them in the hallway, at the store, on the playground, or as they walked across the threshold of my room. (At that point, I was teaching about 600 people weekly, in 4 different locations.)

Change #2: Be present at my classroom door as each student entered and exited. Notice something specific about them, gently touch them on the shoulder, and/or hand them something we would be using in class. In other words, personally engage every student.

Change #3: equally and consistently call on the students who would take forever to answer a question or would forget what they wanted to say or who would repeat what had already been said. Patiently and impartially give all students time and opportunity.

The daily opportunities to practice were innumerable, and little-by-little my heart began to soften. I was literally blessing them with intentional impartations of life that were empowering them to become the ones they were created to be.

This was just the beginning. The safer my students felt in my presence and the more they felt “seen,” the more they opened. Gradually, they “invited me” to speak into their lives.

Pronouncement of blessing

Credit: Photo by Anton Mislawsky on Unsplash

Back to 2003 – Have you ever experienced a culture in which the pronouncement of a blessing was a coveted highlight in one’s life? During my first trip to Israel, our guide set us up for an unexpected and powerful lesson in blessings. We were told that lunch would be provided at the hotel on Saturday afternoon. As we began to “oooh and ahhh” over the buffet, other guests arrived without our notice. In the center of the spacious and lovely dining area, several tables had been pushed together to seat at least 40 guests. Soon every chair was filled as a multigenerational traditional Jewish family chattered away, hugged, kissed, sang songs, lit candles, danced, laughed, and ate and ate and ate. Strategically seated in the middle of the table was the family patriarch. I lost interest in my meal as I observed their Shabbat celebration; I was keenly aware that much of what they did was deliberate, purposeful, natural. Over the course of the afternoon,  each family member under 21-ish years of age, unpretentiously approached the white-haired, long bearded grandfather. Older ones carried the babies, but otherwise, each young person came alone. Some were so tall they had to kneel, others squatted, little ones stood, tiny ones were gently lifted onto his lap or cradled in his arms, but each one was eye-to-eye with their blesser. The two would talk, laugh, ask questions, relay a story, shed a tear. Then the most remarkable, soul-stirring thing happened. The grand (or great-grand) child would bow his/her head to receive a spoken blessing from the patriarch. It dawned on me that this celebration of life occurred weekly for every young person in that family; they joyfully anticipated a personal, spoken blessing from grandfather. Each one was seen. Each one was heard. Each was acknowledged; each was approved; each was affirmed. Each one belonged.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessing, Rachel Naomi Remen says, “When we bless someone, we touch the unborn goodness in them … we offer them refuge from an indifferent world. We enable people to remember who they are.”

How did your most impactful teachers bless you? How did they celebrate your life and draw you out to be the one you were created to be?

Who are your most challenging students?  How can you impart a blessing of life to them each day?

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!