Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

Applying Wisdom in Teaching

TESL Students in Group Workby Dale De Weerd

When I observe how the Master Teacher applied His craft in earthly classrooms—at the seashore, along a dusty path, in the synagogue—I notice His sensitivity to people’s contexts. He meets His twelve closest pupils, society’s marginalized members, and religious leaders on their turf, choosing language and presenting situations that relate to their backgrounds, professions, and present circumstances.[1] Since my current teaching context is the Chinese college classroom, I have chosen three Chinese proverbs to introduce key lessons I am learning from the Master Teacher.

救人救到底,送人送到家 or “When you save someone, save them all the way; when you see someone off, see them all the way home.”[2]

The Master Teacher calls His followers to go the extra mile, using their knowledge, talents, and other resources to produce excellent work that glorifies the Father and benefits humanity.[3] In a TESL course I taught, students learned how to write an effective lesson plan. After studying strong and weak models, student pairs chose a middle-school English topic and wrote a forty-five minute lesson plan, which they, fellow student pairs, and I critiqued via a rubric. Pairs then revised their work and, throughout the rest of the term, revisited the plans to apply new learning. This extended process revealed teaching as a craft to be honed. If something is worth doing, one must do it well!

解铃还需系铃人 or “To untie the bell, you need the person who tied it.”

The Master Teacher challenges His students to be responsible and creative problem solvers in this world they have marred.[4] Our Father gifts us with the Encourager and entrusts us with knowledge and abilities we can use to re-establish some shalom here on earth. In my teaching, then, I must entrust my students with increasing responsibility to problem solve. When one student pair clearly misconstrued their lesson plan’s effectiveness on the rubric, I engaged them in a conversation that included these questions: “What do you think I noticed when I read your self-assessment? Was your approach right or wrong? Why? How are you going to resolve this?” Inviting students to solve problems—self-inflicted or otherwise—respects them and empowers them to take the lead in resolving issues both inside and outside the classroom.

牡丹花儿虽好,还要绿叶儿扶持 or “A peony in bloom is a lovely thing, but it still needs the green leaves to support it.”

The Great Rabbi called twelve men to learn from Him and apply their learning in community.[5] This Rabbi also calls us to learn, grow, and serve within relationships. Yes, some of our students are individual learners, and all learners need opportunities to work on their own, but they also need to work in pairs and small groups in order to practice skills such as encouragement, idea sharing, and conflict resolution. Reflecting on the lesson plan assignment, one TESL student wrote, “Seeing how my partner broke down the task’s parts was valuable for me since I often try to complete large assignments all at once and at the last minute.” No matter how gifted and independent we are, we need opportunities to learn from others and contribute to their well-being.

I still have much to learn from the Master Teacher and Asian culture, but I look forward to another semester of sitting at His feet and interacting with Chinese students. 学而不厌,诲人不倦 or “Never tire of studying, and never tire of teaching others.”

[1] See Mark 1:16-18 for an example.
[2] This and the following three proverbs come from the following book: Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg, Chinese Proverbs and Popular Sayings: With Observations on Culture and Language (Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2012).
[3] Matthew 25:14-30.
[4] Matthew 25:34-40.
[5] Mark 3:13-19.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

  • How do you meet your students in their contexts?
  • What unique aspects of your home/host culture enrich your teaching?
  • How can we who teach in countries such as mine intentionally and meaningfully point to the Master Teacher in our classrooms?

Post Author

Classroom InteractionAfter growing up and attending college in Michigan, Dale De Weerd spent twenty years as an elementary teacher and principal in California’s Central Valley. Moving in 2011 to the country that consumes many of the Central Valley’s almonds, Dale currently teaches and learns from his students at Ningxia University in Yinchuan, Ningxia. Dale holds an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Dordt College.

Photo Credit: Dale De Weerd

3 comments on “Applying Wisdom in Teaching

  1. Marilyn Lewis
    April 14, 2016

    Dear Melissa

    What a star you are, attending a conference with one hand and preparing a Blog with the other.

    Congratulations. Loved some of those quotes/ proverbs. Tied in with my current readings about

    Abraham (or should I say Iberrahim?).





    • Melissa
      April 14, 2016

      Well, Marilyn, since I didn’t write this one and had it formatted a few weeks ago, that made it easy to click the publish button today.

      And when I did, I enjoyed reading through it one more time. What struck me this time through was the thought of offering shalom to our students. 🙂


  2. Carolyn Stent
    April 22, 2016

    Thanks, Dale, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking blog entry! I know that the students at Ningxia University are being blessed through you.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on April 13, 2016 by in "loved by Yahweh", Dale De Weerd, this i teach.



Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Compfight cc
%d bloggers like this: