Teacher Secrets — Work Ethic

I love to watch Austyn Grace help her grandpa wash the Jeep. On a warm south Georgia day last March, she grabbed her bathing suit from her dresser drawer and headed for the driveway!

I had to get her to stop working for a moment to take this picture, but for the most part, she dipped both hands into the sudsy water repeatedly and vigorously scrubbed the sand and grit off the car and the wheel wells.

It helps to teach a strong work ethic to children when the chore has a fun side to it! But all parents need to teach kids to do chores and then follow through if they hope to raise kids who will contribute to society. Scripture addresses idleness strongly when Paul writes, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'”

As I former teacher, I try to set the record straight whenever someone gripes about the easy life of teachers. “They only work 8-3 , have a month of vacation days throughout the school year and get three months off in the summer. What a cake job!” I quickly point out that the preparation and paper grading done at home occupies more time than most anyone sees — except the teacher’s children and spouse!

When Dave and I attended a graduation party some years ago, we ran into a recent college grad who had just finished teaching a semester. She told us she had no idea how much work she had to take home each night. Dave commented, “When did you think she (indicating me) graded all your compositions? Or planned field trips? Or wrote lesson plans?” The novice teacher had somehow missed , despite student teaching experiences, the amount of work involved in teaching.

AG learns the work ethic!

Many teachers accomplish more at work than I did. As the counselor at a private Christian school, I didn’t have planning periods, but teachers who made good use of their time went home with less paperwork than I did. Our son, now a college professor at Georgia Southern University, leaves for work by 7:30 am and returns around 6 pm five days a week. He virtually never brings his work home with him, but truly walks through the front door ready to be a full-time husband and Dad. Brent has set office hours for students, but he’s task-oriented and efficient when his office door closes. But make no mistake: good teachers exercise a strong work ethic if they choose to do a good job.

Becky, Brent’s wife, also teaches the work ethic at home. Here, Austyn Grace had just turned three, but she wanted to Swiffer the floor, so Becky showed her how and then put the blond tornado to work!

I hear too much today about people at work who try to get away with doing as little as they can. Sad, because they lose what really is job satisfaction, and they break a direct biblical command  from Colossians 3: 23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”


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