Here is a clip of something I wrote when I dove back into teaching this past year.
“I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.”
3 John 4
When John wrote those words from the New Testament, he wasn’t speaking about literal children, but his “spiritual” children – those he’d had the privilege of teaching and instructing in the faith.
As I child, I remember this verse on a picture in our home. It grew deep in my mind, motivating me to bring my parents the great joy of knowing I remained true to my faith as I left home and became an adult. Once I became a teacher, I understood John’s perspective as I felt such joy watching my “spiritual” children grow and walk in truth.
Teaching with excellence, being relevant – these are natural products of teaching with a heart of love for students. As I study each class, I determine which methods fit best. For some, it’s class discussion - being able to share ideas and grasp knowledge verbally. For others, it’s physical movement - moving the desks into a different arrangement, or acting out a short story can keep them from drifting mentally. Visual students love to view short film clips or take notes from a colorful overhead transparency, presenting a word picture of the topic at hand.
I enjoy using all of these techniques to keep students engaged and curious as to what might happen each day when they walk into the room. The classroom must have clear expectations and boundaries, but there is also joy to be found in spontaneity.
In the last 15 years, I’ve learned a lot about being spontaneous and flexible. After teaching full-time in a Christian high school for 4 years, I came home to raise our first son, Greg – now a third grader at Community Christian School. The next 10 years brought 3 more children! Each day was a lesson in patience, perseverance, and self-control.
The unique personalities and learning styles of my own children have given me a new understanding of grace I can bring to the classroom. Children cannot be raised in a Christian home and then simply expected to be perfect mini-adults. The teen years especially are times of trial and error, fly and fail, sink and soar. Parents and teachers are on a team together, encouraging each child to learn and grow forward, not berating them for another mistake or a slip-up. It’s our responsibility to love them unconditionally and present him or her with Biblical truth on a consistent basis.
I am a firm believer that enthusiasm in contagious. When I show an animated, warm spirit, the students can’t help but “catch it.” An emotionless, cold classroom is a defunct classroom. But an atmosphere of joy produces greater learning and greater influence for eternity.
Teaching is an overwhelming responsibility, just like parenting. As a mother now, I have 3 John 4 on a plaque in our foyer, making sure our children understand where our real joy comes from. Being an instrument of God’s love in a child’s life, watching that child walk in truth – nothing on earth can bring greater joy.