Teacher as servant. As a student in the Northwestern College education department, each class syllabus had that phrase displayed on the front page. I always thought that it was a nice idea and that it made sense to include that on a Christian college syllabus, but little did I know how true those words really are in today’s classroom.
Heartache, empty stomachs, little to no sleep, absent parental support, excuses, burden of paying family bills, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, peer pressure, and addiction are just a few of the issues that our students face every day. When I first started teaching, my main goal was to get all of my students to pass. I mean, that is a direct reflection of the teacher, right? I still do think it’s important to pass your classes, but investing fully in each student is one of the main missions in my classroom today. As I observed each student and situation, it became apparent to me that they NEED someone to listen to them, hear them, and love them. They are looking for good role models and really do watch their teachers. Even though some may not want to admit it, students look up to their teachers.
How do we show the love of Christ without pushing our beliefs on today’s students? Be kind. Smile! Whenever I’m in the hallway and see a student passing by, I try to make sure that I smile and say “hi.” Not every high school kid is going to say “hi” back, but at least it’s been offered. I not only say “hi” to the students who excel in music, drama, and sports, but also to the students who struggle socially, economically, and academically. Ask them about their day. Every student deserves to be treated like he or she matters. That child is someone’s pride and joy… and I need to respect that.
Speaking of pride and joy, ever since becoming a mom I’ve taken on my role as a teacher a little differently. I certainly want my own child to be loved and treated fairly by his teacher, so I try my hardest to do that for each of my “kiddos” in my classroom. Each of my students becomes like my own “kiddo” since I watch out for them, invest my time with them, listen to and encourage them throughout high school. Just because they may be dressed a certain way or appear to be a “hardened” kid doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to receive love from somebody. Often times, we have no clue what they are facing outside of the school building and sometimes it breaks my heart to hear of their stories.
These children need us!
Another way we show the love of Christ is by modeling. Students watch their teachers in and out of school. Attending church on a regular basis is one way some of our students have noticed we are Christians. They’ve commented to us that it was good to see us in church. How we treat our own boys is also noticed by students. They see us trying to instill Christian qualities and teach our children to be kind to others through our actions and words.
Words are also very important while working with students. They are carefully observing what is coming out of our mouths– whether it is good or not so good. This serves as a good reminder to choose your words carefully because you never know who is listening or how it may be perceived. We also try to keep our posts on social media upbeat and what we say appropriate for our students.
One of my main platforms is social media. Since this is done outside of school, I use this as a tool to encourage others. I may put down my thoughts, record a favorite Bible verse, or try to encourage others. Social media is a HUGE tool for today’s student, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We regularly challenge others to complete kind acts for others. Our family loves to bless others through anonymous acts of kindness. If we can use social media to make a positive impact, I’m all for it.
Impressionable. Students are very impressionable and need more positive people in their lives. A high school teacher can serve many roles in the lives of students: teacher, mentor, parent, cheerleader, counselor, and the list could go on and on. Standardized test scores seems to dominate education, but thankfully many teachers are investing more into our students to help them become caring human beings who can make a positive impact in our world. Looking back at my time studying at Northwestern, I realize now that all teachers are servants. Sharing the love of Christ daily and in simple ways is so important– not only for today’s students but for each and every one of us!
Thanks, Laura! I appreciate your perspective and your work as a teacher with a commitment to serving. And I’m also proud of you and glad to have had a part in preparing you for your profession!