Teaching the Teacher
Who is Teaching Whom?
Whenever I have some time off I begin to reflect on the classroom and the precious kids that I am so lucky to spend time with five days out of every week. I get so much out of this vocation. Most recently, I have been pondering the question, “Who is doing most of the teaching? The students or me?” The truth is that my students have always been teaching the teacher even when I didn’t realize it. I have been given the grace by God to continually see children in a whole, new light as He reveals new insights to me through them. As I looked over the classroom of 15 kids marching down the hallway the other day they appeared to me as little soldiers for Christ. I began realizing how they are God’s army, called to do his will. They are made by their creator to serve Him through the goodness, love, and as the image of God in which they were created. I began thinking about how they have such huge hearts, and yet their young, aspiring minds cannot even begin to fathom the enormous plans God has in store for each and every one of them. For now, they are just doing what comes naturally to them. I see how this is what Jesus talks about when he says we have to become like children to inherit God’s kingdom. At the age of 9 and 10 years charity towards one another is something very automatic and instinctive for them. We were designed for this and at 9 and 10 years old, we have yet to be changed by a world that is not of God’s ways. Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor as our-self is something my students model for me every day. The examples of their kindness and love toward one another are too numerous to mention, but here are a couple of true stories I will share:
- I’ll never forget the sorrowful expression of a very tearful kid in the lunchroom who discovered his mother forgot the sandwich in his lunch box. Seconds later he was being handed slices of pizza left and right from his classmates. Some of them gave up their last slice. The kid’s misfortune and tears evaporated instantly as he suddenly had a stack of pizza slices that matched the height of his joyful grin.
- Earlier in the year, we had a girl as guest to shadow our fourth grade class for the day to see if she might be interested in enrolling the next day. She was understandably shy, but the entire class wasted no time doing everything they could to make her their friend. As we went out to the playground for recess I noticed that the girl had grabbed a basketball and was about to play alone. I was about to go over and shoot some baskets with her, but before I could make it there, another one of my students was escorting her out to the playground. At the end of the day, as the students said goodbye to their new friend, the joy on her face was unmistakable. This girl felt loved. I could not imagine her not wanting to come back.
Teaching the Teacher
The reward of it all
Of course, children aren’t perfect. They still need to be taught discipline, reasoning, listening skills, neatness, accuracy, details, manners, patience, study habits, organization, math facts, and how to write proper sentences. That sounds challenging, but the irony is that those things are not even what are most important. Isn’t it ironic? The most important lesson I can give them is teaching them how not to change – how to remain a child of God in a world that is so distant from Him. They can get ornery and give us teachers a lot of grief. I have to remind myself to not take it personally and to recognize that this orneriness is an outlet for the joy they have in being happy children who crave fun and excitement. I constantly pray that I can live-up to being the teacher, mentor, father-figure, role model, and example of Truth that God wants for them. I am so completely blessed to be given the chance to serve God in this way and to get back so much love and wisdom. They are teaching the teacher and always will be. I feel as though I don’t deserve this. It is all so humbling.