a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.