Core scripture: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).
Message: If you were to give your students a poll about your teaching, what would they say? How would they grade you? Do you have structure? Empathy? Are you the teacher that makes learning fun? The teacher that is easily upset? Do you lack discipline? Do you play too many videos? Do you make time to counsel students? Are you approachable? Do you build up the lower learners and push the higher ones? Are your tests too easy? Too hard? Are you too predictable? How about this one … Does your teaching reflect your faith?
These are good questions that must be pondered. I wonder how my students would answer them. On occasions I will allow my kids to take a survey that I create online, giving me valuable feedback. However you treat your students at school is immediately relayed to parents and siblings at home, and with parent/teacher conferences coming this week, I hope I have modeled a Christlike attitude. Even more so, I hope I model Christ to parents as they converse with me. I should be patient, positive, gracious, and politely inquisitive. I should be truthful, hopeful, and encouraging. I should mark myself as unique, a little different from the rest.
I love the part about having sound speech in the scripture from Titus above. My words have so much power! James 3:7 states, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” This reminds me of a story from a few years ago. I had a sweet little blonde girl in my class, and let’s just say she had a few blonde moments. She had giggled throughout the year at a few classmates who teased her about it, so I thought it was safe to tease right along with them. That afternoon I got a phone call from her mother, irate over the fact that her daughter’s teacher would degrade her in such a way.
Talk about backpedaling! Although I thought my comment to be innocent, obviously the girl took my comment the wrong way. I apologized profusely to her mother and woke up extra early the following morning to write that girl an apology letter. I am not talking a note here; I am talking five paragraphs full of encouraging words that praised her and words that likewise expressed my deepest regret. I was flooded with relief when she received the note and came up to me to let me know that I was forgiven. A lesson was learned. A gap repaired. But none of it would have happened had I been careful with my words in the first place.
So, this begs the question of how my words should be tomorrow evening and all day on Thursday at conferences. How can we as Christian teachers be Christ to parents? Start with encouragement. It doesn’t matter how awful that child is. You can always find something good to begin with. Get the parents on your side. Make them smile. Once the mood is set, be honest but be gracious. Don’t shy around the truth, but phrase the truth in a light of hope. Offer suggestions. Praise breakthroughs. Encourage communication. We need parents on our side. They are a powerful tool at home to further the academic success of our students.
One more thing … thank parents for their time and efforts from home. As most of us know, the job of a parent is never easy. I am now sitting on the other side of the conference table as I attend my boys’ conferences, and it warms my heart to get those types of comments from their teachers. Parents need encouragement too! That, my friends, is being Christ to others. Watch your words, bridge any gaps that may have separated between school and home, and try to remain as positive and hopeful as you can. The rest will take care of itself!
Challenge: Think of your most needy, thorn-in-your-side students. What is something nice you could say to their parents if they showed up to conferences? Pray that God would speak to you as you speak to them.
Song application: “Christ in Me” by Jeremy Camp
So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me
That it’s Christ in me
Quote: “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” (Jane D. Hull)
Other scripture: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Prayer: Father, let me reflect Your goodness and grace to others during conferences this week. May I illuminate Your pleasing aroma to all. Amen.