The Compassionate Teacher
- Not having a true calling to Christian education. Being a Christian teacher is not merely one option to exercise in the job market. Teachers must be born again and have answered the call of God to this avenue of service.
- Unthinking severity of classroom control. Children are children, not miniature adults. Putting them under continual harsh pressure can quench their spirit, harm their esteem, and ultimately drive them from Christianity in general and Christian education in particular.
- Disciplining for academic failures. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. preached, "It is not a sin to fail. It is a sin to do less than your best." The teacher must discern if a student's lack of performance reflects an inability to perform or an attitude problem. Obviously, it is unfair to demand from a child what he cannot do. By the same token, if a child is careless, that weakness should be corrected. Even in giving correction, we should be reasonable in our approach, looking for the day in which the child will have developed positive self-motivation rather than need coercion.
- Pray for each student, considering individual needs. When we think of praying for another person, we generally focus on either spiritual or physical needs. Consider the student's other needs such as academic and social needs.
- Communicating with each child. Communication is more than your lecturing to them. Consider the area of nonverbal communication. Can you share a joke with a silent smile? Do students know you well enough that they can read the pleasure or concern in your eyes? Look your children in the eye. Can you read what is there?
- Touch, pat, or hug as appropriate. Students, in particular, need the assurance that a touch can bring. Remember, you may be the only person who loves that child.
- Be positive in the classroom. Minimize little rules in favor of larger principles. Do not feel compelled to exact adult behavior from children all day. Smile. Give praise.
- Share your personal blessings and prayer requests with them. Your students can grow closer to you and closer to the Lord be seeing the Holy Spirit work in you as well as in them.
- Accept each student as a person. Avoid treating a lower academic performer as a lesser person. God made that student for a purpose.
- Follow your students through life. While they were your students you were one of the most important people in their lives. Show them that they were (and are) important to you. Be aware as they achieve honors and reach milestones (for instance, graduations and even - gasp! - starting families).
All of this may sound like it will take much effort on your part. Perhaps it will. Remember your priorities, though. You were not hired for your mastery of math facts or your ability to unsplit infinitives. You were chosen to help your students reflect Christ in their lives. Compassion is the key to your doing so.