Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prayer in School

Every morning I like to visually check in with each of my 20 students. I can get so busy with teaching, paperwork and whatever else I need to attend to that sometimes, I may not get to check in with each child. It is really important to check in with each kid. Doing this allows me to get to know each child a bit more and it alerts me to problems/issues I may need to address concerning that child. (vision, home problems, test anxiety, etc.)

Today was the first day of state testing. Before the kids took the test today I passed out "brain food" and let the kids talk with their neighbors and relax a bit. As they ate and chatted, I scanned the room to check in with them. As most of my students were laughing, talking and comparing snacks, one of my boys was in a quiet trance staring at his hands. I was curious as to what he was looking at in his hands. This student performs very high on all academic tasks and I wondered if he had written a list of things he wanted to make sure to remember for the test.

I walked up behind him and I saw that he had three tiny cards in his hands. They were prayer cards. One was a prayer for the day. Another was a prayer for school. The third card, the one he was intently reading was a prayer for students. I watched the student until he looked as if he was done with his prayer (he was reading silently) and then I talked to him about it. He told me that his parents gave them to him and he wanted to make sure that he prayed before the test.
The student then put the cards away in his backpack, opened up his snack and joined the rest of the group in conversation and pre-test giggles.

This scenario from my classroom made me think of the people who are fighting for prayer to be a mandated part of the school day. One of their biggest arguments is that prayer has been taken away from the children. I say prayer has always been in school and will continue for those who choose to do it. My student proved this today. He felt the need to pray, he did so without disturbing anyone else, he didn't ask anyone to join him and then he went on about his business.

I am not one to pray in public. Truth be told, I am not really one to pray in private either. What I saw my student do today though touched me deeply. I thought it was a very sweet thing to do, it was very meaningful to my student and I knew it set him off on the right foot for his test and for the day.