Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Overflowing with Hope

by Shelly Page

I was home for Thanksgiving this year, and the after dinner conversation turned to the misery my sister-in-law and my cousin’s wife were feeling about their 8th grade boys failing Mr. E’s English class. The teacher’s expectations seem to exceed what my cousin’s boy, G, is capable of producing. And Mr. E’s feedback doesn’t seem to be giving either of them any certainty of success. G feels hopeless.

We’ve all had those students who just give up when it gets harder than they expect in class.  Or the students, like G, who just don’t believe they can succeed. Or those who work really hard because of the pressure from home to get high scores, and it’s wearing them out. All of these students are looking for something better in the future, but some need more help than others to hope for it.

As those who serve the Master Teacher in classrooms around the world, we have received the gift of hope from the Master, and we have the privilege to share it with our students.

First, having received the Master’s hope we engage it in our own lives. When daily or professional life deals us varying doses of affliction, it is hope that clings to the Truth of the Master Teacher and wrestles for us. We strengthen our hope when we remember Yahweh’s character—steadfast love, forever new mercies, great faithfulness and sufficiency.[1] This faith in the character and promises of the Master infuses our lives with joy and peace, which fills us with more hope, even to overflowing.[2]

Second, overflowing with hope, we share it by creating hope-filled classrooms. Clear expectations about the course and its assignments, and specific feedback about student strengths, offer concrete ways of helping students nurture faith in themselves and the hope for not only a passing grade, but also improved fluency, accuracy, or subject knowledge. This will matter little, however, if we are not faithful teachers, fulfilling our promises outlined in our syllabuses and shared with our words. Our students need to be able to trust us, too. If we are willing to do the work and invest the time, the following practices are additional ways of fostering hope in the classroom.

  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. This might mean mixing up instruction methods, adapting materials to meet specific learner needs, and giving choice to student groups regarding roles they will fill to complete assignments.
  • Focus on growth and learning in your assessment practices. Two areas to note in the link above are clear expectations and feedback about strengths given separate from grades.
  • Use consistent evaluation tools.
  • Reflect on your teaching in a variety of ways. One way is to ask for student feedback on lesson material, teaching practices and activities, and then implement one suggestion, which demonstrates to students that their voice matters.

Third, having created a trusting and hope-filled classroom, we can engage students in activities that address hope and related topics. The sources for such stories really are endless—TED Talks, NPR Story Corps, local news (especially around the holidays!). I have created a short list of ideas to get you started on creatively shaping such resources to fit your courses and students.

I ask that the Master, who is the source of all hope, infuse your lives with abundant joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Spirit.


[1]Lamentations 3:17-18, 21-24

[2]Romans 15:13 (adapted from The Voice)

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

  • How do you describe hope? What concrete images help you describe this abstract notion?
  • What aspect of the Master’s character do you need to be more certain of in order to nurture your hope?
  • What relationship do you see among the gifts of teaching presented in this series? In what ways do they contribute to each other? (See 2 Peter 1:5-8.)

Post Author

Shelly Page started her B.A. in marketing research and graduated a teacher of high school English and Spanish. Now she holds an M.Ed. in TESOL and has spent more than half of the last 22 years in various places in China as language teacher, team leader, Academic Director, recruiter, teammate, pre-field trainer, Professional Development Director, mentor, and friend. Currently she is on sabbatical in Michigan.  



Photo Credit: shioshvili via Compfight cc

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This entry was posted on January 7, 2015 by in hope, Shelly Page, teaching as a gift.

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