a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
When I ponder how I can be a teacher who follows the Master Teacher, my thoughts settle on two areas. The first is what we do before we step into the classroom. Lesson planning. Checking homework assignments. Creating exams and grading them. These things can be time consuming and tedious, but they are essential. Planning lessons that are effective, giving constructive feedback on homework assignments, creating exams that are accurate assessment tools – these are an act of service to our students. They will not see us laboring over a lesson plan – they probably won’t even see the lesson plan itself – but they will be blessed by our labor! They do see the exam (although they would rather not), and when we create an exam that is well-written and a fair assessment tool, the students benefit. Even more importantly, our careful hard work honors the Master Teacher.
What about in the classroom? How do we show that we are followers of the Master Teacher as we stand before our students and interact with them? The second area that comes to mind when I think about following the Master Teacher is that of reflecting His character in the classroom.
As the Master Teacher walked this earth and lived among us, he modeled many characteristics. One that stands out to me is his compassion. He looked at the crowds and was moved with compassion. Do we look at the students in our classrooms and feel compassion for them? Do we remind ourselves that learning can be challenging and downright hard?
The Master Teacher not only saw the crowds, he also saw the individuals in the crowd. Do we know the names of each student in our classrooms? Have we identified their strengths and their needs? If we have compassion on our students, we will desire to help each one grow in knowledge and develop skills. We will notice when a student is struggling or is discouraged, and we will notice when a student makes progress.
Another characteristic the Master Teacher modeled is patience, especially with his closest students. They forgot the lessons he taught them and committed the very errors he had warned them about. They fell asleep when he had given them an assignment. They quarreled among themselves. Students today do the same things.
Let me give an example from my experiences as a language teacher. I have explained over and over the difference between “What’s wrong?” and “What’s wrong with you?” Yet I still hear students try to express concern using the latter! A patient teacher will gently remind them again…and again…and again. A compassionate teacher will remember that learning a foreign language is a complex and difficult process.
Here’s another example that is universal: the student who is unmotivated and shows it in various ways. Perhaps she plays with her cell phone in class in a way she imagines is covert. He refuses to participate in activities and doesn’t do the homework. A compassionate teacher will understand that there might be a personal reason for this behavior. A patient teacher will take the time and make the effort to talk to the student one-on-one…and will consistently enforce her classroom rule about cell phone use.
Paul urges us to “clothe [ourselves] with compassion…and patience.” A few sentences later, he exhorts us to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” As followers of the Master Teacher, let’s strive to honor him as we prepare for class and to reflect his character as we interact with our students.
Carolyn Stent currently teaches in the School of Foreign Languages and Cultures at Ningxia University in Ningxia, China. She has lived in China for 10 years and has taught a variety of courses including Oral English, Advanced English Skills for graduate students, and Survey of European Culture. She loves to visit former students who are now teaching and interact with their students! She has an M.A. in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University. Carolyn’s other home is in Oregon, USA.