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Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to

take possession of the land. (Exodus 23:30)

The Elephant in the Classroom_________

Sylvia is a reading facilitator at a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon primarily Hispanic inner city school
with 85% of the students on free or reduced lunch. Her days are filled with co-teaching in several primary grades and serving dyslexic
and struggling readers individually and in small groups at all grade levels throughout the day. She serves around 70 to 100 different
children each year with a schedule that is constantly changing as students are added and removed from her roster and amidst the
many required tests that are taken at all the different grade levels. Rarely is her schedule ever the same from week to week.
The words “academic maelstrom” most accurately describes Sylvia’s teaching position. A maelstrom is defined as, “a powerful
often violent whirlpool sucking in objects within a given radius”. What is amazing is that Sylvia sails happily along in this whirlpool and
does not get sucked down into negativity or discouragement. She loves her job and can’t wait to get their each day. She has even
chosen to start her day tutoring thirty minutes before school starts and an hour after school several days a week so she can work with
even more children.
One of the indestructible sails on Sylvia’s professional ship is the Bible verse James 1:2-4. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers
and sisters, [fellow educators] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces
perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Sylvia believes and
knows the challenge of her profession is helping bring her to spiritual and professional maturity.
At a recent faculty meeting the teachers were asked to think of one word which summarized their focus or goal for the
remainder of the school year. The Lord gave Sylvia the word, “elephant” along with the old parable which asks, “How do you eat an
elephant?” The answer is, “One bite at a time.” Sylvia knows she is not to focus on the many foreboding and forbidding tasks her job
entails. She is instead to focus in the present upon God’s Word and each single step she is to take each day – each individual bite of
the professional buffet of responsibilities her job requires.
The ballast the Lord put on Sylvia’s professional boat to keep it upright and balanced is Exodus 23:30. God was giving the
Israelites instructions before entering the Promised Land. “Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased
enough to take possession of the land.” This scripture reminds Sylvia daily that as she works with each child and each teacher “little by
little” she is helping them reach their Promised Land which is academic excellence in an environment of shared love and respect.
Do you get to work at school each day and see an elephant in your classroom [office] or do you see the bite(s) you are to
consume that day? Persevere. Realize God is maturing you spiritually and professionally. Take one bite at a time. Little by little and you
shall get to your Promised Land and lead others there as well.

Prayer: Lord, help us build our professional lives [ships] upon your Word. . Help us focus on the individual bites on our professional
plates and not the elephants standing in our rooms and offices which are glaring at us.
Reflection: Am I focusing on the bite or elephant in my professional life? What banner scripture(s) has the Lord given me to be the sail
and ballast in my own academic maelstrom?
Getting Real: Ask the Lord for a scriptural sail and ballast to use in your professional boat. Pray it daily. Focus on the bites each day,
not the elephants.

CLASSROOM LIGHTHOUSE SERIES: Fields of Faith in Education (For info or prayer contact WEEK 23


(South Africa Outreach – Dr. Mella Davis)

Zelda, 13, is co-captain of the dance team. Zelda lives in the shantytown with her mother, older sister,
niece, and brother. It’s her grandmother who is raising her. When I spoke with her grandmother (her
mother refused to come outside), she expressed her concern that the girls be delivered straight to their
homes, not merely be dropped off at the soup kitchen. She explained that sometimes children are
inadvertently and purposely killed during drug wars, toy toying (protesting), and other acts of violence.
She said that she would prefer to see the girls dancing for Jesus instead of the devil, but we must bring
Zelda and the others to their doorsteps to avoid senseless deaths which happen often in this environment.
Zelda is a talented dancer and singer.