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 DEVOTIONS POSTED IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS

TEACHERS CAN BE BULLIES TOO

Ephesians 4:29, 32 (KJV) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ...32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another...

                   According to  https://www.stopbullying.gov/, Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior ... that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

                  When I was in high school, I joined Future Teachers of America (FTA) and was allowed to spend one day a month in a teacher's classroom at a local school. I was helping out in a third grade classroom when I observed a situation that I considered bullying from the teacher.  The teacher had a spelling contest in progress that included a class reward if everyone in the class made no less than 90% on their spelling test.  After the tests were graded, the teacher called a young boy to her desk and began to fuss at him in front of the class for not passing the test.  She told him that she wished he had never moved to their town.  She continued to say that he always messed up their contests and made everything worse for the class. Tears filled the boys eyes as he slumped his shoulders and returned to his seat.  I assumed her goal was to shame him into doing better in his spelling tests.  In my opinion, she bullied him.
              Several times I have observed teachers who felt the need to  motivate students by shaming them.  A negative attack usually reaps a negative response.   Students are not motivated by threats, put downs, or intimidation.  They may cower to the teacher's authority outside, but inside they are building a wall of resentment each time the teacher is unkind or attacking. Ephesians 4 calls all of us to be careful with our words.  We are instructed to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward our students.  Our words are to be words of life that edify and build students up.  These words are to encourage students to try harder and to believe that they can do better.
              When you find yourself at your wits end with a student, it is better to excuse yourself for a minute or two to get yourself together, or to postpone consequences for the offense until you can deal with the situation in such a way that benefits the student.  All discipline and correction should be for the student's benefit.  It should never be for retribution. 
             Check your past behavior to see if you have used any bullying behavior in the way you delt with your students.  Let God change your heart and give you tenderness toward each of your students.  Refuse to play the part of the “teacher bully”.

Dear God, Search me and know if there is any wicked way in me.  Help me to be kind and tenderhearted to each one of my students.  Forgive me for the times I handled things wrong, and help me to build the ability to respond like you in every situation that arises in my classroom.

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW CHRIST

 Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

          I was 23 when I had my first child.  I felt a little overwhelmed as they placed him in my arms and wheeled me out of the hospital to my car.  I suddenly realized that this baby was my responsibility. I quickly learned the meaning of self-sacrifice. He didn't sleep much, required a lot of attention, and was reported as being the most demanding baby out of 72 babies in the hospital nursery.  Nice quiet walks, hot baths, and time just for me were gone. My baby's very existence depended upon me denying my comforts to meet his needs.  But I served him willingly because I cared deeply for him. He was God's gift to my husband and me.                     
         When I entered the classroom, I was determined to be in charge.  Things would be done the way I wanted them done.  One of my co-workers, knowing that I was a new teacher, told me the thing that worked best for her was to be flexible.  She explained that everyday unexpected things would happen, and flexibility would be the key to getting past the rough spots.  My retort to her was, "Well, one thing I am not is flexible."
        Guess what, she was right.  Part of carrying my cross was to put aside my perfectionist attitude, my in charge approach, and my unbending schedule in order to serve the needs of my students.  I gradually learned that it was not about me and my lesson plans as much as it was about the students and their success. I eventually realized that my students' success was my success and my students' failure was partly my failure.  The more I owned the responsibility to see them succeed, the more I became willing to walk the extra mile with those that required it.  God called me to help all of my students succeed, not just 80%. 
       I encourage you to discover what your personal cross is that God is asking you to bear.  When you do, submit yourself to God, pick up your cross, and carry it with grace and love.  Remember, when we cast our cares on Jesus, his burden will be light.  You can find peace and contentment when you choose to accept your “personally assigned” cross.  Remember, you never walk alone.
   
Dear God, Give me the courage to pick up my cross and follow you.  Teach me flexibility and gentleness as I deal with all of my students.     

RENEW YOUR STRENGTH

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)
         How “alive” are you spiritually today?  Have you fallen into the trap of being too busy for your personal devotions?  Has your personal and school duties pushed aside your quiet times with God?  If so, I urge you to find the “Secret Place” with God again.  Your ministry will be affected when your spiritual fervor dwindles.  
        To win students to Christ, a teacher must have a vibrant, close and personal relationship with God.  Your excitement and interest about the things of God will be a light in a dark world.  Your students will only be drawn to Christ through your consistent lifestyle of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and self-control.
        Teaching is time consuming.  There are papers to grade, reports to maintain, lessons to prepare, bulletin boards to create, and many other unending duties to do.  It’s easy to begin to leave out your devotion time--not purposely, but from what seems to be necessity.  Be careful; your light will become dim.  You must stay connected to the source of spiritual light to shine.  We are only the conduits of light.  Without the source of power, our light will fade into darkness.  Satan will encourage you toward activities—even good ones—so you have no time to grow spiritually.  A sense of duty can be a trap.  To always be there for your coworkers, your boss, your family members, your students, your friends, and your fellowman but neglecting your personal time in the Scriptures and prayer is like trying to give them a glass of water with an empty pitcher.  You have nothing to pour out to others until you are filled up with God.
        Go back to the place where you lost your first love.  It is still there; rekindle the fire.  Find a quiet place outdoors. Read Psalms 8 and Psalms 19 aloud.  Read the Psalms aloud.  Review the four Gospels.  Begin to meditate on the Words of Jesus, the love of God, the beauty of His creation, and His faithfulness.  As you wait before God privately, you will be renewed.

Dear God, Renew my mind and my spirit today. Help me to once again have that first love for you that made every morning new.  As I wait before you and study your Word, give me fresh manna for today.


TEACH ME TO GLORIFY GOD IN MY SUCCESS

Psalms 75:6-7 No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves. 7 But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”
         Many men start their leadership role with the right goals and attitudes.  They have good and just intentions. But, as time passes, their purposes blur and selfish ambition, greed, pride, rebellion, and other areas of sin begin to manifest.  Why does this happen?  
        A leader's greatest success can be his greatest stumbling block for the future.  Rewards and praise can bring over-confidence and self-sufficiency.  Does that mean that we are never to praise or reward one another?  No!  But it does mean that we, as teachers and leaders, must be aware of the tendency to fail after experiencing success.  Too many teachers and leaders tend to separate themselves from the people we have been asked to lead.  Parents and others find it increasingly difficult to get an appointment. However, to affect the lives of those we lead, we must be available to them. If we are not careful, we will lose sight of our goals.  We must daily remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit living within us is the creative force behind our success.  We must choose to give God the glory for all things and continue to walk in lowliness of mind—in humility (not thinking of ourselves at all).  (Philippians 2:3-4)      Your success is from God.  You will remain successful only as long as He wills it.  Your response to success determines whether God can trust you with even greater success.  Your leadership will either earn you more responsibility or cause you to lose position.  God exalts, and God demotes.  Your response to those you lead and to your daily duties will affect future promotions.
    Matthew 23:11-12 says, The greatest among you will be your servant. [12] For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.  Humble yourself before God.  Strive to serve the needs of those you lead. God will promote you in due season.

Dear God, Help me to keep my focus and priorities on you and your purposes.  May the success you allow me to experience bring greater humility and recognition of the significance of who you are—the creator of all things, the all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful God of the universe.  And, help me to remember who I am—a foolish thing (1 Corinthians 1:27) and a sheep that must have a shepherd at all times (1 Peter 2:25).


DEVELOP THE ART OF FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION IN ME

2 Samuel 9:8, 11 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, 'What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me? ...So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons.

        The Bible considers dogs unclean animals. In fact, the vilest of sinners were often referred to as dogs. Mephibosheth was King Saul's grandson (Jonathan's son). When Saul's kingdom collapsed, a servant hid Mephibosheth to protect him from his grandfather's enemies.  Several years later, Mephibosheth was discovered and brought to King David. Mephibosheth feared for his life because he was King Saul's grandson.  He told David that he was a dead dog--"dead" because he was a useless cripple and unable to be a threat to David's kingdom--"dog" because he was bowing to the lowest position possible to plead for his life. What Mephibosheth did not know was that David wanted to exalt and honor Mephibosheth because of King David’s close friendship with his father, Jonathan. David exalted Mephibosheth and gave him a place in the palace and treated him like a king's son.
        This famous Bible story reminds us of God's eternal work of salvation for each of us. We come before Him with all of our impurities deserving of death. He not only pardons us from our destruction, but He exalts us to the position of a king's son. Let the truth of what Jesus did at the cross sink deep into our hearts. Jesus died on the cross and offered “undeserved” forgiveness to us while we were YET in our sin.  
As we allow this truth of "undeserved forgiveness" to become a reality in our lives, we will be equipped to forgive our students for their offenses even before they repent. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matt 5:7). David not only pardoned Mephibosheth; he also restored him to his position in the king's palace. When offenses occur in your classroom--correct, forgive, and then restore the student. Be Christ's hand extended. Be an example of God's love and grace.

Dear God, Let this truth be part of my daily life.   I thank you for your forgiveness. Teach me to forgive and to restore.


SHOW ME HOW TO ACCEPT MY COWORKERS UNCONDITIONALLY
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. [5] It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. [6] Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [7] It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
          We all have “quirks” in our personality. I have never met anyone that did not have great strengths and major weaknesses at the same time.  So, how do we learn to accept the oddities or the unloveliness of each other?  Paul gives us the key in the above Scriptures.  Love is the key to your happiness this year.   
The more honest I am about who I really am, not who I want people to believe that I am, the more I realize how human we all are. 
       Performers seem to do everything right at the right time in the right way, and they notice when others are not measuring up.  Their greatest downfall is judgment, anger, and pride.  They lose a lot of joy in life because they either resentfully fix the things that others neglect, or performers reject people who don’t seem to measure up.  
       The happy-go-lucky are always ready to play.  They often neglect responsibilities in exchange for the now.  They procrastinate on major and minor projects and create misery for those who depend on them.  They tend to be self-centered, thoughtless, and self-indulgent.   
The meticulous or perfectionist must do things right.  They worry a lot.  In fact they fret over everything.  They can be overbearing in their expectations and slow in their performance.  They are never satisfied with themselves or with others.  They lean toward self-rejection, disapproval of others and preoccupation with things.  
The know-it-all likes to have a platform.  They control conversations and seldom listen to others.  They want to do things their way.  They talk a lot but may not do a lot to help when needed. They tend to be controlling, manipulative and over bearing.  And . . . I could keep going—flaws are common--we all know them.
        But we need answers.  And God has provided us one—only one is needed.  LOVE the unlovely by appreciating their strengths and trusting God to help them with their weaknesses.  The more I accept my flaws and commit them to God, the more I am able to accept other people’s shortcomings.  The truth is—we all need God.  He created each of us with challenges that require His help to overcome them.  Learn to see your coworker’s flaws as God’s tool for growth and maturity.  God uses people to develop our character. I find that the things that irritate me about others are the flaws in my life that I hate.    The more I let God change me, the more I am able to accept others.  When I spend my time allowing God to perfect me, I am not so quick to worry about what God needs to do in other people.  The more God changes me, the more I can have hope and faith that God can and does change situations as I commit it to prayer. When I choose to stop magnifying my co-worker's flaws and begin to concentrate on their potential, I am no longer their critic, instead I become their ally, a true co-worker—a friend who wants to work together and grow together.  It allows me to love them without condition because I know that God loves me that way.  
         Love is the key.  Love always protects (doesn’t expose flaws), always trusts (believes the best until proven otherwise), always hopes (sees what others can become), and always perseveres (because God is not finished with any of us yet).

Dear God, Give me unconditional love for my coworkers.  Help me to accept them where they are now as I realize that you’re still working on all of us.  Only you can change my heart of stone to a heart of flesh.  I am willing to learn to love them with your help.


GIVE ME WISDOM TO MEET THE CHALLENGES

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

       Some topics create heated discussions in a classroom--discussions that cannot be proven, cannot be solved, and will set the classroom at odds. I avoid these topics. There are disagreements within society that will not be solved, and are nonessential to the overall success of the Kingdom of God or my classroom's yearly essential elements. Some students look for a "question" to get you started. Face it, class is more fun if you can get the teacher off the lesson and onto a debate that brings excitement.

      As the Lord's servant, we are not to quarrel. If the issue is unbiblical and you can quickly "instruct" the student to further understanding--do it...gently! However, these matters (though they need to be addressed) are usually better dealt with privately after class. If the student's question is genuine, he will appreciate you taking time to answer the question. If the student is trying to stir up a discussion or an argument, he will be disappointed and unexcited about handling the question privately. As you consistently confront his questions after class, he will soon give up his rabbit chases.

       At the time of the "off track" question, simply say, "That is an interesting question, but I do not think this is a good time to discuss it. See me after class, and we can talk about it. Now, let us get back to our lesson...” or "I am sorry, but we need to stick with our lesson today. Does someone else have a question that pertains to our lesson?"  
     Should students try to challenge your knowledge or your authority, do not try to "prove" your qualifications or get into a battle of wits. The student should be confronted privately regarding his inappropriate behavior and informed that his "off-track" questions are disruptive and cannot be allowed. Remember to reprove him gently.  If the student should continue this "attack" in the classroom, meet with your principal and develop a specific plan of action to stop his disruptions. Never ignore disrespect or challenges-- gently (but firmly) reprove.

Dear God, Help me to be secure enough as a teacher that I can gently reprove a challenging student without anger or resentment. Teach me to respond as a Christian and a professional teacher.


AS LONG AS THERE IS LIFE, THERE IS HOPE AND VALUE

Ecclesiastes 9:4  Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
       Do you ever feel that there is no hope for you or possibly no hope for one of your students?  This  Bible verse reminds us that where there is life, there is hope.  As we grow older, we often realize that our productive classroom years are fading. Our accomplishments seem so small; we wish we had done more.  Sometimes we feel that we have wasted our best years just spinning our wheels.  The students we did not reach, and the students who never cared seem to haunt our memories.  Our victories seem insignificant. STOP!  LISTEN!  As long as there is life "It ain"t over."  
       God grants life for a "purpose."  He has a purpose for your existence.  Your place of employment and/or job assignment may change through the years, but you will always have a "purpose."  We need to discover God’s purpose in each day and pursue it with all our might. Too often we seek the "big picture"  before we begin  the puzzle.  But often God asks us to place each piece of our puzzle before Him daily, and He will bring the big picture into focus in His time.  
       Only God knows who the Lions will be.  His purposes are valued differently than man values things.  Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.  Turn from your self-centered thinking to God-centered thinking and leave the final results to God.  Set God's work and His love as your goal and press toward it with all your might.  Only in eternity will you know how valuable yesterday was in His Kingdom and what today's plans will accomplish.  Live today to its fullest.  The secret to success is purpose and perseverance.  God will lead you if you will follow.

Dear God, Help me to persevere.  I choose to not be weary in well doing.  I will run the race with patience.  Thank you for life and purpose.  Lead me down your good path planned for me (Psalms. 16:11; 27:11). 


​​APPLY YOUR HEART TO INSTRUCTION
Proverbs 23:12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.

      The fifth grader looked at me in anguish and cried out in frustration, "What's wrong with me.  I know I should be able to learn this, but it just won't stick in my head!"           
       How long has it been since you experienced the frustration of trying to learn something that doesn't easily "stick in your head?"  Most people struggle in some subject during their academic career.   For you, it may have been reading, spelling, division, fractions, algebra, statistics, foreign languages, or memorizing unending facts of history or science.  Can you remember a time when you were so lost in a course that you didn't understand enough to even know what question to ask your teacher?  Or did you ever have a time when your teacher asked you if you understood and you were too embarrassed to admit you didn't "get it."                   
     Teachers need to recall the pain and struggle of learning in order to empathize and patiently guide their students through the roadblocks keeping students from academic success.  Students learn at different rates.  Some students will grasp the concepts immediately, and other students will need reviews and, some may need creative re-teaching before the concept is acquired.
    Proverbs 23:12 encourages us to apply our hearts to instruction and our ears to the words of knowledge.  Many times when I couldn't find the key to a student's learning, I silently prayed for God to show me the secret to that child's understanding.  I purposely sought to find the approach and method of instruction that would break down the wall of confusion for students who struggled.  By turning my heart and my ears toward God's unlimited knowledge and wisdom, I found new ideas and creative ways to unlock learning for my students.
      God invites us to ask for help if we are lacking wisdom.  My purpose today is to remind you that you have an unending supply of creative ideas and wisdom available to you just by asking.  Let God be an integral part of your planning and teaching this week. Your goal is to help every student find success.

Dear God, I acknowledge my limitations as a teacher.  I also acknowledge the vastness of your unlimited wisdom and knowledge.  Fill me with the faith and courage to bring my daily classroom frustrations before you believing that you can guide me into greater planning, instruction, and knowledge for my class.


​FOOLISHNESS IS BOUND UP IN A CHILD'S HEART


Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. 

      The tenth grade boy raised his hand during study hall. I quietly walked to his study center and asked if I could help him.  "The light bulb isn't working.  Can I go get another one from the janitor" he asked.  
      I hesitated for a moment and then I told him that there was enough light in the room without the lamp directly over his study center.  After I walked away, I saw him tighten the bulb and turn his light back on.  He was playing games and trying to get out of class for awhile.  At first, this really made me angry.  I knew he would gloat over tricking me if I had let him leave the classroom.  
      How do we keep from getting angry when kids play tricks on us?  Well, the above Scripture helped me to get things into perspective.  Foolishness is a natural part of being a child--especially some children.  The reason we discipline them is to "drive it far from him."  We should not allow ourselves to get angry over their foolishness but rather we should see it as an opportunity to train and discipline it out of them.
      This student's statement to the teacher was a lie.  His game actually led him into sin.  Children need to understand that foolishness often leads to sin.  If they respect God's Word and desire to do right, they will hear biblical instruction and change their ways.  This student earned a consequence for his deceit and lie--not foolishness.   
      By the way, a sense of humor helps to overcome your offense.  Don't ever forget what it was like to be a kid.  Much of the time kids don't think all the way through their foolishness.  However, for some students this same response could be a form of mockery rather than simple foolishness.  Mockers seek to make the leader look foolish--(Proverbs 9:8.)  The same consequence would be appropriate whether it was foolishness or mockery.  

Dear God, Help me to be level headed rather than hot tempered when it comes to kids' foolishness.  Help me to see these situations from your perspective.  Their folly is an opportunity for training.  Give me the grace to discipline rather than react personally in anger.  


​​​WRITE THESE GOALS IN MY HEART
Proverbs 1:2-4   . . .  for gaining wisdom and instruction;  for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.

Solomon names six purposes for the book of Proverbs
1.    To teach wisdom (God's perspective on issues)
2.    To gain  instruction (natural laws of cause and effect)
3.     To discover words of understanding (insight into God's Word and how it relates to current issues)
4.     To accept Instruction in
                Wisdom –understanding God’s character
                Justice—dealing with others in a righteous manner
                Judgment—knowing right from wrong and recognizing Satan’s traps
                Equity--teaching values that will bring truth and balance to life
5.    To give prudence to the simple (Teaching a foundation of truth so they will no longer be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine,  philosophy, religion, or fad.  Ephesians 4:14 (KJV)
6.     To give knowledge and discretion (decision making ability based on truth, and understanding God's purpose and will.)
    These six goals are imperative to our students' future. I encourage you to write these goals in your plan book and to review them often.  Teachers should give students a foundation of truth that encourages right behavior, obedience, responsibility, and balance in everyday living.  These acquired attributes will help to produce a happier, more congenial, and more productive society.    
    These truths are universal. The principles of Solomon can be taught without using the Bible or referring to God.  They are universal truths that are applicable in every society, in every nation, and in all life experiences.  They can be applied to work or play, to secular jobs, to profit or non-profit organizations, to public or private schools, and to individual family settings.   

Dear God, Show me your truths and help me to teach those truths to my students.  I submit myself to learn more of Christ's character so that I may become an example to my students.

WHEN I AM WEAK, GOD IS STRONG

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 … "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. [10] That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


        It has been said that God is more interested in my character than my comfort.  I found this truth to be a solace as I struggle through each year’s unique circumstances. Teachers often experience conflict, stress, disappointment, and fatigue during a school term.  We must serve employers, our fellow teachers, parents, students, children, our families, and churches.  We work and live on a stage for all to critique.  Our every move is closely regarded, and our mistakes are often recorded.  Our efficiency is evaluated, and our children are tested.  Under the close scrutiny of our audience, our weaknesses will become conspicuous.  These are often the weaknesses we try hard to cover up, or the weaknesses we deny.
         Scriptures tell us to humble ourselves, to accept the truth about our weaknesses, to submit to our leaders and ask for instruction and support, to lean on others, to ask God for wisdom, and to trust God for strength to overcome.  We often respond with denial, excuse, anger, or pride when confronted with our failures.  Remember that God's strength is made perfect in your weakness.  Your lack may be a chance for someone to serve you as they use their unique gift.  Or it could be an opportunity for you to see God's power manifested through your life.  Your weakness can become your greatest strength as you allow  "the power of Christ to rest upon you" and empower you with overcoming grace.  God's grace is sufficient.  His wisdom is awesome, and his Word is true.  Let the nagging, despised, and hated reoccurring weakness in your life be a pivotal point of turning to God for strength.  His strength is perfected in your weakness.

Dear God, I don't like to be weak, but if my weakness bends my knee toward your throne, I will be grateful.  I know my perfection is in you alone.  God help me in my struggle.  Teach me to lean on you.


DO YOUR GRADES MEASURE LEARNING?


PR 11:1 The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.
       God cares about your grade book.  He cares about your test strategies.  He also cares about the student’s success or failure.   The marks you make in your book are measurements or percentages of learning.  The degree of success that a student achieves is reflected in their scores. At least that’s what most people assume and accept to be the case.  However, in my past experiences, it has not always been true.
       I once worked with a teacher who gave 20 point bonuses on tests when students did “favors” for him like bringing him candy or doing special chores.  Another teacher gave test questions like “How do you spell relief?”  “Rolaids” was the answer.  “Relief” was considered wrong.  I’ve seen other teachers take points off test scores because of misbehavior or failing to write their name on the paper.  Are these accurate “weights” or measurements of education?
       Grades are based on percentages.   An 88 means the student completed 88% of the tested material correctly.  How can we have an accurate measurement if that 88 has been tampered with a loss of 10 points for failing to put the name on the paper, or an added 20 points for a special favor brought to the teacher?  And trick questions, even though they may be cute and enjoyable for the teacher, are they an accurate reflection of material learned in your classroom?  What about homework that was not done or an assignment left at home?  Is the “0%” really a correct evaluation of their education?  Or is it a measurement of behavior, attitude, or organizational skills?      
       I ask you to consider your guidelines for measuring grades.  Let the grades in your record book reflect actual test scores and academic achievement.  Regard undone homework or papers not completed as behavior problems.  Design consequences for these behavior problems to encourage the student to learn new patterns and habits.  If a student continues to receive zeros for no homework and he fails the course because of it, what has he learned?  He hasn’t learned much—at least not in self-discipline.  The truth is he may have passed every test given and may have mastered the subject material, but his behavioral problem was never addressed.  He doesn’t need to repeat the subject matter another year; he needs to be held accountable for his assignments and be disciplined into correct behavior regarding his responsibility to do homework assignments.  A zero is faster and easier to give than holding a student responsible.  However, we are doing children a disservice by letting them take a zero rather than requiring them to complete the work.  
     Once a tenth grade student didn’t turn in the assigned research paper.  At first he told me that he had put it on my desk and I must have lost it.  I called the parents to inquire about the paper and discovered he had not been working on it at home.  I encouraged the student to be honest and finally, he admitted that he had not done the paper.  I gave him an “I” for incomplete rather than a “0”.  I wanted him to learn to do a term paper.   I met with him during lunch hours and after school to check on his work.  The project was completed a week later.  This was his first report or long term project ever completed.  He had learned to take zeros.  He knew how to work the system and how to keep from failing most of the time.   He did his next project with the class.  The discomfort of having to meet with me those extra hours and being made to do the report was painful enough that he did not want to repeat the process again.  I did lower the grade for the project being late, but allowed the student a chance to get a “low” passing grade if the project was done well.  I felt the lost points reflected the need for re-teaching—thus a lack of achieved learning.  

DEAR GOD, LET MY GRADES REFLECT AN ACCURATE MEASUREMENT OF LEARNING.  GIVE ME CLARITY OF THOUGHT REGARDING YOUR WAYS.  ALLOW ME TO SEE EACH SITUATION AS YOU SEE IT, AND GIVE ME THE WISDOM TO MAKE CORRECT JUDGMENTS.