Core scripture: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4: 8).
Message: Conferences week is here. Looking back through the years, I am sure I have already echoed many of the thoughts below, but it never hurts to revisit points that should be engrained in the Christian teacher’s mindset. Before you dive into the marathon before you, set your mind straight. Pray. Get into God’s Word. Think about how God can use you to bridge the gap between students’ homes and school. Here are some thoughts about conferences that might be of use to you before you take the floor.
- “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). Before, during, and after conferences, your mind should be connected to the Lord. If you have that mindset, you can’t go wrong. I am encouraging the Christian teachers in my building to pray with me in my room 15 minutes before conferences start tomorrow night. Pray over the chairs in the gymnasium for love to be shared. Pray quietly between parents’ visits. And be sure to praise God afterwards for giving you the endurance to power through.
- Always begin with a positive for each kid. Ephesians 2: 10 says that we are all God’s masterpiece. That positive may be more apparent in some, but every kid has something worthy. Every kid has a gift. Show that gift to their parents. You’d be amazed at how many parents may not even know how their child flourishes at school.
- Make each conference unique. I get caught in repeating myself over and over, like a broken record. If each child is indeed unique, tell their parents those stories. Be specific. Maybe the kid does a great job of holding the door for others. Maybe the child answered a really hard question last week. Every story is worthy of being shared.
- You can be a master of double-speak, but never lie. Proverbs 12: 22 declares that God despises liars. Be sweet with your words, but don’t sugar it up too much. For example, if you have a kid that simply won’t stop talking, you might say that this kid is always eager to share their opinion. Follow that up by saying there are times the child talks when they shouldn’t, but they mean well in the end.
- “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4: 5-6). Even the non-reached should know there is something different about the Christian teacher. Let that distinctive mark of love be seen in all that you say and do during conferences.
- Be productive. If you have a half hour gap of time in the mid-afternoon, utilize it. Use it for catching up on grading, creating dynamic lessons, or even spreading words of encouragement to faculty members that need it. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3: 23).
- Beware of gossip. “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Proverbs 11: 13). I don’t know what it is about conferences, but amongst faculty the whispers always come out. I’ve heard it all. From the short skirt the mom wore to the tattoos on dad’s arm. Don’t say anything you’d regret later if that person were listening to your every word by your side.
- Conduct yourself in a Christ-like manner afterwards. If the crew is gathering at the local pub a half hour after conferences, be leery of the effects of alcohol. Have a drink if you please, but don’t get inebriated. Enjoy your time, but watch your mouth. The tongue is a powerful weapon. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21 23). There is likewise no shame in going straight home and kissing your family goodnight.
- Show love in all you do. Paul hit the nail on the head when he said, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3: 14). Think of different ways you can show that love to colleagues, parents, and students. Even the little brother or sister hiding off to the side. Pull that kid forward and say something like, “I can’t wait to have you in my class someday so you can be just as good as your big brother.”
That is what it all boils down to. That single, powerful word of love. “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8). Be that love to others. Through every word you speak, every step you take, every action that comes forth, be the love of Christ to others.
Challenge: To prepare for conferences, try to think of one positive thing to say about each student. Even if the kid is a thorn in your side, kind words can always be found. All students are a masterpiece of God’s creation, and parents have a right to know where their kid shines.
Song to bring it home: We Are Messengers has a new song called “Magnify” that speaks truth to the way we should see the world. When talking to parents this week at conferences, be sure that you are magnifying no one other than the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord, please help all teachers communicate effectively with parents this week to stimulate learning in students. Let my words be positive yet convicting, sweet yet challenging. Amen.