“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" – Isaiah 58:6-7
This stage during Lent can be challenging. The energy of commitment to a Lenten promise has faded, and the fatigue (perhaps literally for some) has started to settle in. Not coincidentally, this is a challenging time of the school year when motivation is low, sickness is overtaking many of us, and demands are high while patience is thin. Energy has faded, and lethargy has settled into classrooms.
This week, we take a fresh look at fasting– a fasting that might help our classrooms become more peaceful, kind, and ultimately inclusive. As we imitate Jesus by resisting temptations that come with this time of year, fast for inclusion.
Fast from negative talk about students. Remember their sacred dignity as every child is created in the image and likeness of God.
Fast from harsh language and judgment of students’ parents. Remember they are their children’s first teachers, appointed by God to do His work in them. These children were sent to do His work through their parents.
Fast from pessimistic thoughts about student potential. A truly inclusive teacher believes in the limitless capacity of children, despite challenges, and children's ability to achieve their God-given potential.
Fast from the feeling that you are not doing enough as a teacher. This negative mindset helps no one. Every effort to meet a child’s needs, no matter how simple or small, is an imitation of God’s love.
Fast from only reacting to student challenges. If a need can be predicted, it can be addressed proactively to prevent the negative effects of the student feeling inadequate, unworthy, or unjustly punished.
Fast from trying to solve issues on your own. God has given us the beautiful gift of community to rely on one another through collaborative meetings, problem-solving teams, and external resources.
Recommit yourself to creating a classroom filled with kindness, compassion, and love as you continue your journey this Lent. By fasting for inclusion, your heart will find peace, and you will more perfectly reflect God’s grace active in you.
Visit ace.nd.edu/inclusion if you are discerning a call to learn more about serving all students in our Catholic schools. Applications for our second cohort are still being accepted on a rolling basis.