Across our nation many are heading back to the classroom. For some here in northeastern Indiana it began 3 weeks ago and for others it is presently taking place. Over the last several weeks I have found myself praying for the children, teens, and young adults in our church and community who are students and I have prayed for all the teachers, administrators, and all others who play a role in providing education. TEACHERS in my book are real life heroes who give of themselves to one of the most important positions in our nation, the shaping of young lives! Teachers have the unique privilege and responsibility to help mold individual lives into productive citizens. At 63 years of age I still remember the names of many of my teachers and the things they taught me nearly 60 years ago!
As school begins another new year may we each commit to praying for our educators to use their tremendous influence to affect life change in their students. And may we specifically pray for each christian educator to teach and lead in such a way that Christ Jesus would be seen!
May I mention a few tips for each teacher to consider making a part of their prep time before and during each day in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, bus , study halls, sporting events, and playgrounds.
TIP # 1 - PREPARE YOUR OWN HEART !
Preparing our own hearts to teach is actually more important than preparing lessons. Teachers need hearts filled with love and patience. They need hearts that are selfless and sensitive to the Lord who will make them sensitive to the needs of their students. Selfish teachers will only help to mold others to be selfish. Stubborn teachers will only influence others to be stubborn. Every day the good teacher will prepare their heart to walk with God and to yield to the Holy Spirit. Allowing God's fruit to show up in the classroom through the teacher!
TIP # 2 - PREPARE THE HEART OF YOUR STUDENTS!
Teaching is such an incredible way to impart facts. But the christian teacher desires also be an agent of the grace of God that will bring eternal changes. God created man with a body , mind and soul and complete teaching involves each area. Imparting facts only to the mind falls short of successful teaching, there must also be teaching to the soul. Make it your goal that your students' not only learn what you are trying to teach them, but pray for moments to impact them in truly life-changing ways. Ways that will help them to learn how to have life giving attitudes and behaviors, and of course ways that will lead them to see their need of the grace of God. Every christian teacher must remember to pray for the hearts of each student daily and ask the Lord to help them recognize the divine opportunities the Lord brings throughout the day. Often these opportunities are not with great fanfare and one must be prayed up to be aware when they avail themselves. The greatest moments of teaching may not be during a lesson but in an everyday action of serving or caring! Pray for yourself and your students to have open hearts.
TIP # 3 - PRAISE YOUR STUDENTS !
Work hard to encourage your students much more than correct your students. Correction must be a part of any classroom but encouragement will always do more to educate than correction. Look for opportunities to praise and speak positive things into the life of each of your students'. Do it publicly and personally. Send notes to them personally and send positive notes about them to their parents. Perhaps putting this on your calendar will help you to schedule such on a regular basis for each student
TIP #4 - PRIORITIZE THE VALUE OF TEACHING!
Teaching is more than a job or a career, it is a way of life and ministry. A great teacher must always remember what they are doing and why they are doing it. The value of teaching and the value of those you are teaching should be reflected on regularly. As the teacher reflects upon their " HIGH CALLING" it will increase enthusiasm in their teaching and develop a greater desire to learn in the student. Teachers must continue to focus on the long lasting results of what they teach. For instance, you are not just teaching a five year old to read but you are giving them a life long tool to learn about everything including the life saving gospel. The teacher is not just teaching history but in so doing they are shaping their worldview.
TIP # 5 - PASSIONATELY TEACH !
Teachers must beware of the trap to teach last years lessons with last years passion. The teacher who has taught the same classes for twenty years must work hard to refresh those lessons for the student of today. It is certain that somethings never change but if the teacher is bored it is certain the student will be twice as bored. Put the same heart into refreshing your lessons as you did the first time you prepared them and you will find your students listening more attentively. If the teacher is excited, that excitement will be caught by your students' and will become contagious to the entire class!
TIP # 6 - PERSONALLY GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS!
Connect and Reconnect with your students. Build a rapport with each student and show them you care. Each morning greet them at the door or at the beginning of class. Reconnect and set the tone for the day or class, and that tone is we are connected. Seek to understand things from the students' perspective. If a teacher is not wearing the students' shoes when necessary, they are not doing their job well. This is especially true when dealing with teens. Get to know them better through conversation and other times at school. Work hard to develop an honest relationship with them. Fact is that the teacher who has worked to have a proper and fitting relationship will always have more potential to impart and impact a life.
TIP # 7 - PARENTS ARE IMPORTANT!
Don't be afraid to reach out to parents! They really are your allies. For every two phone calls that you have to make about a problem that you are dealing with in class, make one positive one to a parent just to say something nice about their child. If you do so you will find that when a problem does arise you will often find allies rather than enemies ! Work to develop good relationships with the parents and they will be more likely to reinforce what you are doing in the classroom at home!