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Okay, I Am a Teacher – Now What?

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” II Timothy 4:2 (NIV).

Now that I’m willing to embrace the role of teacher I purposefully chose, I want to make sure that I’m inspiring, effective, and encouraging.   In order to be the most successful, I need to look not only at the examples given to me by those I love and admire, but I need to dive into God’s Word and see how Jesus, our perfect example of humanity, taught those He loved.

When looking up various scenarios, I read how patient Jesus was with His disciples, those who came to listen to Him preach, and those He came into contact with occasionally or many different times.  He never strayed from the truth, but to those who were seeking, He presented it in a gentle and kind way.  If you were to read John 4, verses 1 through 25, it talks about how compassionate Jesus was with the Samaritan woman and because of His kindness, she realized He was the real deal.  He never dismissed her sin but instead embraced her despite her flaws, and she in turn embraced what Christ had to offer.  As a result, she went out and shared with others how wonderful Jesus was.

When you have more than one child in your family, you naturally will relate to each unique personality differently.  Therefore, one style of parenting isn’t going to work for each child, just as in the classroom, one learning style isn’t successful for each student.  It’s our job as parents to find the right parenting style to help encourage our children to reach higher, work harder, and gain success in their own life.  It’s a little challenging, especially if one particular child’s style is completely opposite from yours, but it’s possible.

For instance, we have one child who challenges every direction given, one child who resists having to complete the directions, and another if given an explanation will (usually) willingly do what was asked.  It’s difficult at times to go back and forth continuously, sometimes in the same hour, between all the different styles.  Ultimately, obedience is necessary regardless of the way they approach directions, but patience on my part is definitely a wonderful attribute to cling to during the process.

Another area of being a great teacher involves being able to correct gently.  Who remembers the teachers in school that were considered yellers versus the ones that got the same point across but with a gentle tone?  I have always striven to be “gentle in Spirit,” but instead find myself crying when I’m angry and yelling when I’m scared.  I would love to be more like my husband who is very controlled with his emotions and thinks before he speaks.  I, on the other hand, say “I’m sorry,” more often than not because what came out of my mouth wasn’t always what (or the way) I intended.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus uses the following words to describe Himself: “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Now, I have to admit growing up, I really struggled with this picture of Jesus.  I saw Him, and my Heavenly Father, more as Judges or Creators who wanted to punish me.  However, the older I get, the more I see the true picture of who Jesus came to be for us.  Just like His Father, Jesus came to this earth to save us, to love us, to give us a chance to live with Him in eternity.  He is a just God and has to punish the wicked, but He is patient and loving and wants us to turn from our sin and embrace His free gift of salvation.  Now when I read passages, especially in the New Testament, His love for me comes through in the words written in the Bible.  That is the example I want to follow for my kids.

When they’ve done something wrong, even though consequences are necessary, I want them to feel gently corrected, not harshly, unjustly treated.  I don’t take pleasure in their mistakes, but I am happy they are given a chance to learn from their mistakes while under their father and my protective shelter, before they grow up and have to face life as an adult.  That’s why we have the saying in our house: “There is nothing you can do that will make me love you more and there is nothing you can do that will make me love you less.”  Our love for them isn’t based on what they do, but instead just because they are who they are.  The same way that Jesus loves each and every one of us.

Lastly, I want to be the kind of teacher who is fun.  My kids have had the privilege of being under the care of many “fun” teachers.  These teachers have taught the necessary skills, but have the gift of presenting the material and conducting their classrooms in ways that draw the children in, make them excited about being there, and anticipate going back after a long weekend or Christmas break.  That’s the atmosphere I want to create in my home.  One of fun, acceptance, and laughter; where my kids enjoy being at home and can’t wait to come home.

The above character traits are ones I want to infuse in our household on a consistent basis, but there are also areas I need to work on eliminating, the most important being my tendency to take over a job for which my kids are very well capable of handling on their own.  I’m used to and have a lot of experience in caring for infants who need a caretaker to provide for all their needs.  However, all three of my children are out of the infant stage and I need to provide opportunities for them instead to practice their life skills.  The more I let go in this area, the more I realize the benefit for us both.  They give me a much needed break from feeling like I have to “do everything,” and they get the chance to raise their self-esteem by accomplishing a task by themselves.  I still provide plenty of opportunities for them to gently remind me that I’m taking over.  We share a laugh and I apologize as I move out of the way so they can continue perfecting their newly acquired skill.

Being a teacher can be demanding, never-ending, and frustrating at times, but I have to admit, it’s also very rewarding, challenging (encourages me to keep growing and raising my own personal standards), and is definitely the most rewarding job.

I want to say thank you to all the teachers out there, my friends and relatives, my kids’ teachers, and my mom, who are great examples of what I hope to someday be with my own kids.  Thank you for inspiring me to be the best I can be through your own laughter, patience, gentle correction, and fun.

This coming week is Teacher Appreciation Week – How can you say thank you to the special teachers in your life?

Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell

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