Beginning at the End

After twelve years of being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, I have decided to spread my wings a bit. I’ve decided to turn in my apron for a chalkboard. I’m returning to the classroom.

Black and White

Now, this will be a difficult transition for me. After all, you know what stay-at-home moms do. We lie in bed and eat bon-bons all day. We watch soap operas and read mindless fiction. Then, we talk on the phone to other stay-at-home moms, so we can discuss our soap operas and our mindless fiction.


Actually, when I think of all the jobs I have done during the last dozen or so years, including short-order cook, nurse, chauffeur, maid, seamstress, counselor, referee, gopher, and teacher, I’m looking forward to a less strenuous job description. Or at least a shorter one.

Plus, with this job, I’ll actually get paid. Real money, with pictures of real U.S. presidents. Amazing.

This week, as I sat in a teacher inservice, I was reminded of some of the keys of good teaching. One of the first things we were told to do, when planning a lesson, was, “Keep the end in mind.”

In other words, what do I want my students to accomplish at the end of the lesson? What are the goals for the end of the period, the semester, and the year? Once I’ve determined the goal, I need to make sure everything in my lesson plans leads toward that end. Teachers who keep the end in mind usually end up seeing a higher rate of student success.

I should really end this story right here and now. After all, I don’t know who will read this, and I honestly don’t want my principal or the superintendant or the school board president to know that, as I sat in teacher inservice this week, my mind wandered. So if any of those people are reading this, please disregard the remainder of this article. The end. Thank you very much.

But for the rest of you, I have to admit. My mind wandered. While I was supposed to be paying attention and hanging on every word and taking notes, I got stuck thinking about keeping the end in mind. And I wondered, what do I want my ending to look like?

At the end of my life, what do I want to have accomplished?

At this point, I’m not sure my goal of being a multi-billionaire is really feasible. At least, not unless teachers get a gi-normous pay-raise. Even then, when word gets out that my mind wandered during teacher inservice, my chances for that kind of raise are pretty much shot.

My goal of being a Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist is still a possibility. Not a probability, but still. A girl can hope.

But those are just secondary goals. Sure, being filthy rich would be nice. Being recognized for my outstanding contributions to the literary world would be pretty awesome. But those aren’t my primary goals.

When I get to the end of my life, I want my children to know they were loved more than life itself. I want my family to know that they were more important to me than anything. I want the people around me to know that I cared. I want people to look at me and say, “There is a woman who loved God and loved people.”

It’s funny, though. When I look at my primary goal, I’m not sure all of my daily lesson plans are leading up to that point. I’m afraid that too much of my time is spent on things that don’t have anything to do with my desired outcome. Perhaps I need to make some adjustments.

Maybe I need to turn off the television, so my children will know that they are more important to me than HGTV. Maybe I need to take a few deep breaths and answer gently, instead of responding to my family with impatience. Maybe I need to spend more time focusing on the things that matter to other people, instead of being so wrapped up in myself.


It’s not always easy to make adjustments in our lesson plans. After all, many of us have been using the same plans for years, and changing them means . . . work. And who wants to do that?

But if we want to see success, we truly need to define our goals. We need to keep the end in mind, and make sure all of our steps are leading to that point even if it means tossing out all the old plans and starting over. I think, somehow, it will all be worth it in the end.

“Straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 3:13 – 14.

2 Responses to Beginning at the End

  1. August 22, 2009 #

    Good thoughts, Renae. Loved your primary goal — a worthy one for all of us. I hope I’ll be remembered like that, too.

    Hope you have a great school year — bet you will be a real blessing to your students!

  2. August 22, 2009 #

    Thanks, Cheryl! School starts Monday . . . ready or not, here they come! 😉

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