The name of this blog is "Just a Teacher" in honor of a fellow educator who told me once I was "just a teacher". I know the comment was meant as an insult, but the ability to teach is a gift and one I do not take without thankfulness. The greatest teacher I have ever studied is Jesus Christ. When you read his sermons and teachings, you meet a gifted teacher who could put a complicated lesson into the language and experiences of the people. His words were concise and clear, he used the images of the day, the surrounding area as his tools, and understood his students and their needs. He even could chastise and love at the same time.
I have been so blessed for the past 19 years to work with all kinds of people. I have educator friends of all colors, all sorts of nationalities, all sorts of beliefs, and in types of schools. Whether you follow the ONE I call Savior or not, there is much to be learned from a life lived walking dusty roads and teaching others about love. Here are a few lessons.
Jesus returns from the wilderness and his 40 ordeal with the devil to his hometown of Nazareth. He speaks in the temple and declares his mission. He is rejected and his hometown tries to throw him off a cliff. He leaves the town.
Lesson: Speak the truth in love, when rejected and assaulted, shake the dust and walk. You will persecuted and you will be rejected. Maintain the focus on the mission. Let go of bitterness and know you are one piece of the plan, not the entire puzzle.
Luke 9: 37:56
Jesus confirms how special children are to GOD after healing one who was known to throw fits and be possessed.
Lesson: Children are precious. They will come to us with all sorts of problems ranging from inattention to full-out throw-downs. See past all of this and see what GOD sees. POTENTIAL! When we can love children as we want GOD to love us without criticism and judgment, we find ourselves transformed and often the child. Of all my failings, tantrums, and weaknesses, GOD has loved me anyway.
John 11: 17-46
Jesus shows up and raises Lazarus from the dead. Yowser!
Lesson: Sometimes it seems that children are hopeless and there is nothing else to be done. Stop listening to those who are scream death, who tell you it is hopeless, who say nothing can change, who believe all is lost.... Miracle happen everyday and GOD uses "just teachers" to bring forth changes in the lives of children, fellow teachers, and schools. Just believe.
Jesus is crucified, buried, and resurrected.
Lesson: Your mission will not always be easy, follow through anyway. This is not an easy road, walk it. You will have close friends. Some will betray you and others will stay with you through the devastation and the resurrection. Regardless, stay on mission and love others.
I challenge you this Easter to read about the life of Jesus. You will find your teaching transformed and the way you see others changed. I have failed more than I have ever succeeded, but my one prayer is to see children and others as I wish Christ to see me. With forgiveness and mercy...always seeking another chance at redemption.
For me, faith is the foundation everything else in my life tends to rest upon. I stumble so much! Somehow I am called back to the path. I had an amazing weekend with the ladies from Enon Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Ackerman, Mississippi. Years from now when I contemplate spiritual events in my life, I believe this past weekend will rank up there as one of the most significant. WHY? I think when we meet people who push us and stretch our thinking, we grow. When we experience significant growth, our life turns. The turns are memorable.
Today the precious teachers at my school came together and we analyzed student work in our cluster meeting. We noticed a few really intriguing things. We found evidence of when a strategy was internalized by children. We talked about uncovering our thinking. We talked about issues some students are still having. BUT! What we also discussed was how we have impacted change. The evidence that we make change and we make a difference in our world is officially called efficacy, but for me that ability is the most special part of being a teacher. The power to impact our peers or children or our world is, well...powerful.
One day these teachers will be in a place where they are not sure where to go or what to do with the learning, I hope they will return to experiences like today and know they have the power to make change. I hope they will have faith in the process of teaching and learning. I hope they will have faith in their students and know they can succeed. I hope they will develop their own faith to support them in their times of struggle. For me, I have faith that in all things GOD works to the GOOD of those who are called to HIS purposes.
My purpose is to lead people to discover their ability to impact their world, whether children in a class, teachers in a cluster, daughters in our home, or ladies in a church. I find not greater thrill than doing what my Master leads me to do.