How to Talk to Your Teacher About the Feast
by Sarah Hanson - September 9, 2019
The Feast is a time to rejoice, but sometimes the stress of missing school can make rejoicing difficult. What can we do to lessen this stress?
The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the most anticipated times of the year. It’s a time of rejoicing and an opportunity to focus on the future God has planned for humanity. However, if you have a lot of homework or a difficult teacher, stress could overshadow or distract from the meaning of the Feast.
Talking to teachers and professors about the Feast can be intimidating, but it’s necessary and can reduce your worries during the Feast. Here are some tips for effectively communicating with teachers and professors about your Feast absence.
1. Get the information
Before speaking with your teachers, make sure you have all the information you (and they) might need. Know the dates when you will miss class. Check the syllabus to see if you will miss any major tests or other assignments. Find out if you will have easy Wi-Fi access at your Feast accommodations, which is important for online assignments. Check your school’s policies about what qualifies for an excused absence and how many days you have to make up work for an excused absence.
Hopefully, your teachers will be accommodating, but in case they aren’t, it’s helpful to know the school’s policies. Additionally, it’s a good idea to be able to cite scriptures to support why you are keeping the Feast of Tabernacles—just in case you’re asked to explain why you will be gone, and for your own understanding as well.
2. Approach with a humble attitude
Be mindful of your tone of voice and attitude when you broach the subject of missing class days for the Feast. It’s good to let your teachers know that you are observing a religious holy day, as this lets them know that your trip isn’t just a fun vacation. The fact that it involves religion lets teachers know that there are probably allowances in school and university policies that permit students to take this time off.
Many of my teachers had never heard about the Feast of Tabernacles, and they were shocked that I would take off so much time at the beginning of the school year. I was quick to assure them that I had done this before and was diligent about keeping up with assignments. I asked them if they would prefer that I make up assignments ahead of time or get them after I returned, and I tried to make it easy on them to reschedule tests and labs.
3. Build a good reputation in class
As stated in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Why might a good name or good reputation be important in this situation? Although they may try to be impartial, teachers tend to be easier to work with if they like you (or at least appreciate that you are engaged and put effort into the class). For instance, if you have to make up a test, they might be willing to let you put off making it up for an extra day or so.
But how do you build a good name? It’s simple—consistently act in a way that reflects well upon yourself and God. Turn in homework on time, be attentive in class, ask questions, arrive punctually and so on.
4. Follow up with your teachers
Depending on the size of your school and whether you are in high school or college, your teachers could have dozens, even hundreds, of other students. They have a lot of other people to think about, so if you only tell them about the Feast once, they may forget. If you talk to a teacher in person, it’s a good idea to send a follow-up email that includes the dates of the Feast so they have a written record as a reference.
5. Pray about it
Just as with any difficult situation, it’s a good idea to ask God for help. Philippians 4:6 reminds readers to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” He can help you “find favor” with people—a difficult teacher, for instance. He did this for Esther with King Ahasuerus (Esther 2:17) and for Joseph with Potiphar (Genesis 39:4).
On several occasions I had teachers break their own rules about making up assignments after I prayed about the situation. While this might not always be the case, having God’s help to soften the hearts of some of the more difficult teachers is so helpful.
While your teachers may not excuse you from making up classwork, knowing that they are willing to give you adequate time to make up tests and other assignments can be very reassuring, and help alleviate stress. With this stress removed, you can more readily enjoy the Feast and focus on what it pictures!
For more insight into this topic from a parent’s perspective, read "Working With Your Child's Teachers About Absences for the Biblical Festivals."