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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Best Teachers

Today, I am presenting a workshop at the Indiana Wesleyan University Celebrate Teaching Conference. Hundreds of public and private school teachers will be in attendance for the event. In my session I will emphasize how Jesus, the master teacher, engaged students not with just the content he taught but the character they caught from him. Here is the CHRIST acronym I am sharing:

The most influential teachers possess the following character traits:

C-ompassion: When Jesus was filled with compassion he taught the people (Mk. 6:34). Teaching in a way that liberates the minds and hearts of students may be among the most compassionate ways to serve humanity. Teachers who care deeply for students will find a way to act on behalf of the student.

H-opetimism: I realize this is not a word, but I can make one up if I want to:-) Hopetimism is seeing and naming the future potential in the present problem sudent. Jesus called Simon, "Peter" when the latter was anything but rock-like. Jesus saw and  named the Peter-potential buried inside of the Simon-problem. Good teachers do the same.

R-elatability: Excellent teachers find a way to connect with all types of learners. There was no one like Jesus, who was perfect in love and completely sinless. Yet he found a way to relate to anyone, even a demon-possessed madman running around in the nude, cutting himself, and yelling out profanity. Teachers are called to relate to students in a way that brings dignity and adds value to them all, even the ones who are most at-risk.

I-ntegrity: Integrity happens when one's values are congruent with one's behaviors. When a teacher makes a promise and keeps it, or professes a conviction and embodies it, she models integrity. Teachers who live and teach with integrity cultivate integrity in students.

S-acrifice: Jesus would sacrifice anything to elevate his students to a new level of living. This meant a cross for him. Teaching has a cross attached to it. The best teachers know, accept, and thrive in this reality. They recognize that teaching is not a career but a calling that makes every expenditure of blood, sweat and tears worth the expense.

T-rust: Teachers who live into the above traits will become exhausted and discouraged, no doubt. They will need to be reminded that while their mission may be too big for them, it is not too big for the God who calls us to mission. Jesus' trust in the Father brought him peace to persevere. The same, of course, will be true for teachers today. Get alone with the Father to be reminded that he has the power to do anything in and throug you. 

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