Flourishing – Understanding how God has gifted (students) and called them

Source: Beth Chatto Gardens by antonychammond via Flickr

Source: Beth Chatto Gardens by antonychammond via Flickr

(Eighth in a series that delves deeper into the characteristics of a flourishing student – click here to read the original post on flourishing.)

I had two differing experiences in my educational career that dealt with the aspect of vocation. One was in my 8th grade year when my teacher took some time with each of us to talk about our individual talents and how we might use them in high school and beyond. A second came during a very confusing time of life as a college freshman – seeking direction in the guidance office, I was given a vocational test. The test suggested that I should consider becoming a rabbi; I thought this a curious outcome since I was not Jewish, but an evangelical attending an evangelical college. (Given that I am writing this blog on nurturing student faith, maybe that test was not that far off! :) Needless to say, one experience was helpful, and the other was not particularly so.

I hope that as K-16 institutions, we are now doing a much better job with helping students understand how God has gifted them and also helping to discern God’s call in their lives. But I wish I had more certainty – please write if you feel this is an area of strength in your school – I would love to share what you are doing!

Over the last decade, the recognition in the business world, that we should be working from our strengths rather than spending time trying to build weak areas, is a welcome relief to our previous deficit approach. I am specifically referring to the work done by Clifton and Buckingham and the numerous books written as follow-ups to this groundbreaking work. Using a strengths model, I believe that the time is ripe for us to better equip students through identifying their gifts/talents and having them practice using their gifts/talents in team settings. We have said that we believe all children can learn, so then we can’t continue to teach in the same ways – we need to be helping students know who they are and how God has wired them, thereby optimizing their talents in the classroom. Secondly, we know that cooperative learning is a research proven strategy, but unless we have identified individual gifts/talents, we likely will not effectively put project groups together where talents are maximized.

Last month I shared what Beaver County Christian is doing with having their alumni come in and talk about how their Christian education is impacting their careers. One of the benefits that I like about this project is that it serves to cultivate the missional imagination of the students. Through the stories shared by the alumni, students can begin to imagine how they might be listening for, and living out, God’s call in their lives. As a child I was brought to “missionary union meetings” to hear how missionaries were making an impact on the world out there. Although I didn’t always enjoy going, I usually enjoyed the engaging stories, the cool artifacts, and learning about the world on the other side of the globe. I realize now that my parents were trying to expand my missional imagination!

We are living in a time where we have a greater global awareness through our connectivity, more movement toward a personalized student educational experience, and more understanding how teams function best.  These three aspects may indicate that this is a perfect time of convergence around better equipping our students to flourish through understanding their gifts/talents and how God is calling them. What is working well in this area at your school?

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22 Comments

Filed under Biblical worldview, church partnering, classroom, community, distinctively Christian, encouraging the heart, kids/culture, mission development, student outcomes

22 responses to “Flourishing – Understanding how God has gifted (students) and called them

  1. Helen Emmelkamp

    We have been using a program for several years that we call Career Awareness for our middle school students. We are attempting to do much of what is described here, however the speakers we invite in aren’t necessarily alumni. Our goal is to get our middle school students to begin to realize that what they do at school has long-range implications for them. We also want them to begin to sense that in the walk with God, the Holy Spirit will guide them to God’s call for them and that that can be in any vocation.

  2. Pete Post

    Dan,
    I hope that you will once again be open to the use of your blog to stimulate reflection by my pre-service teachers at Trinity Christian College. My college students are in the process of beginning field hours at Elim Christian School with students that all have very significant disabilities served by a wonderfully caring staff. In IEPs (Individual Education Plans) a transition plan must be put into place when a child turns 14 and a 1/2 years old. In light of this article and the noteworthy call to utilize student strengths and God given gifts – I wonder how my students might suggest to incorporate a faith aspect into a transition plan given what they are observing in the Elim students. I trust the responses will cover a wide range of ideas and hope that you will appreciate theirs answers as much as I will (and perhaps your readers will as well).

  3. Melissa Stalman

    In high school, I knew that I loved working and spending time with children, and I wanted to help children reach their God-given potential. Therefore, I decided that teaching would be the perfect fit for me. At my Christian high school, we were encouraged to follow God’s calling for our lives and serve Him fully in that area. However, we were not given much guidance as to how to discern what we felt God’s calling was for our lives. I had to figure out for myself where my passion was and what my strengths were. Teaching has always had a tremendous impact on my life. Throughout my years in school, I have had many influential teachers who have cared about my academic and spiritual growth, and their passion to serve God through teaching was inspirational to me. If it was not for these teachers, I would not be the person I am today.
    A lot of students leave high school feeling uncertain about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. This is a hard decision to make because there are so many different fields, and students are not sure where they fit.Therefore, I think teachers should help their students find their strengths, talents, and gifts and allow their students to utilize them in meaningful ways. Then teachers can help guide them to use their gifts to do what they are passionate about. This can help students feel more confident as they enter college and decide on a career path.
    Currently, I am observing at Elim Christian School, and I am working with high school students with disabilities. These students are learning life skills that they will need once they graduate from Elim. God has created each of these individuals with a unique calling and purpose, and the teachers that work with these students show how much they care and value each of their students by allowing them to use their different God-given strengths in a safe environment. The teachers also know their students on a personal level and are able to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses in order to help their students feel confident and successful. Some of the students even have jobs at the school that they work at like serving food in the cafeteria. I think this is a great idea because they are able to apply their gifts, talents, and strengths that God gave them into a real life situation. This allows them to take on responsibility and get a feel for different jobs. By doing this, students will be able to transition from high school to the real world more smoothly.

  4. Alyssa Huizinga

    When I was working my way through elementary school, middle school and even high school, I always said I wanted to be a veterinarian. I love animals and I wanted to be the person who made someones sick dog better. However, I would constantly hear from friends and family members that I would make a good teacher. Besides the occasional career day, or bring you child to work day, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to explore and talk about different occupations so I stubbornly said I was going to grow up to be a vet.
    Once I got to college, I started my Freshman year as a biology major ready and excited to start my many years of school becoming a veterinarian. However, I soon found out that biology wasn’t my strong suit, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of attending 3 hour labs every other day. After a lot of prayer and guidance from my adviser, friends and family, I found my way to the education department and I couldn’t be more positive that this is where I’m supposed to be.
    I think it’s so important for students in all grades (elementary – high school) to be introduced to a variety of occupational options and when older have someone to not only talk to but challenge them in their future to go in a field where they can use their gifts to the best of their ability.
    As I student aid at Elim this year I am placed in a classroom that has about 6 students ranging from the ages of 6-8, all with severe disabilities. Even though these students are young, their teacher is still showing them real life skills; for example the students did some “cooking” when making pumpkin pie play dough. As they continue their education at Elim I have faith that they will continue to be taught these life skills, find their God-given strengths and excel at whatever they do.
    It’s so important that all children, those with disabilities and those without, are given the opportunity to be encouraged in finding their talents, their interests, and their purpose

  5. Jaclyn W.

    When I was in high school, we had Christian people from multiple different careers come in on one day. Each were assigned a different classroom, and the whole school got to pick 2 or 3 classrooms to go to. These people talked about their career and what they did (which was good to get a feel for what we wanted to go in to), but most importantly, they talked about how their faith is impacting their career, how they can let Christ’s light shine in their career, and how they use their God-given talents every day. I think it is very important for students of any age, whether in a special education setting or general education setting, to get the chance to hear how God can use everyone’s talents in different ways. They need to be encouraged to use their strengths, and then assured that no matter what they do in life, their faith will always impact them and others.

  6. Nikole Linares

    Thank you for your thoughts. What you’ve written here has really resonated with me.

    I always felt I was called to work in a church or ministry. Only recently however, God put in my spirit to work with people with special needs. Why this is all happening now, I am not sure. I do however know that God has an overarching plan for me and whatever I may do, I will do it for His glory. I feel if we could just help one person understand this everyday, more and more people would know what it is to live with blind faith and ambition. As challenging as it may seem, this is the main reason why I’m going into education. I want everyone (people with disabilities, people from “broken” homes, those of low socio-economic status, etc.) to know and understand that there is a plan in motion and there is a God who is in control of this plan. I want them to know (and I hope to teach them one day) that this plan, this life, is for them too and they have just as much as an opportunity to live it as I do.

    How would we even start to do something like this? I’d say a good place to start is getting to know students: let’s recognize their strengths and weaknesses and use both to help them reach their goals. Like you stated here, in today’s world we operate on our strengths and we kick our weaknesses to the curb. My question is, why does it have to be this way? If as Christians, we are taught that we bear the image of God, then we must also express it. We can start by living it and teaching it. Let’s help our students find Christ by mirroring to them precisely what God intended for us to be: humans who love one another, who are constantly learning, and who are interactive beings.

  7. Kaitlyn T.

    Dan,
    Thank you for your thoughts on recognizing students’ strengths and God-given talents. I am a junior at Trinity Christian College and am currently teacher aiding in a Special Education school called Elim Christian. One of the things that relates to your blog post at Elim is how teachers and paraprofessionals design a student’s transition plan. In putting together a student’s transition plan, from a Christian standpoint, the student’s strength and God-given talents must be taken into consideration. There may be areas of difficulty for students with disabilities, but there is always an area of strength for these students that can only be attributed to what God has knit into their being even before they were born. These strengths should be recognized and used to glorify God, and that is where the transition plan steps in. This plan should be utilizing all the talents and strengths these students have naturally. If a student is exceptionally good at following directions, their transition plan should reflect that by giving him/her opportunities to develop and display those strengths. I also think that these students’ transition plan should not be a one-sided document, but that the student has a say in it. The student should feel confident in his/her abilities and should be able to voice their own strengths within the plan. The student shouldn’t feel alone in this plan though, there should be a group of people supporting and surrounding this student in the implementation of this plan. Like you said, there should be a team aspect when recognizing student’s God-given talents. We can’t develop our student’s strengths without a team behind them, encouraging them, and giving them opportunities to shine. If we created a transition plan for a student but then left them alone during its implementation, we wouldn’t be helping the student discover and develop their natural strengths and talents the way God intended us to. I hope that one day when I am a teacher (maybe even a special education teacher) that I will remember to recognize and develop the strengths and talents God gives to each of my students.

  8. Kristin R.

    Growing up in my years throughout elementary, middle, and high school I never really had an idea as to where I wanted my career path to go. Even when I was a college freshmen I was unsure as to what path to take and declared my major as “undecided.” It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I realized I had an interest in education. This came as a total shock to me; I had never even considered becoming a teacher before, let alone a teacher in special education.

    In one of my other classes that I am taking here at Trinity we are reading a book called “Theology in Special Education” which discusses the whole concept of answering God’s calling. In this text, the author explains that as Christians we need not worry so much as to whether or not we are answering God’s call. Because God is sovereign and already has a plan in place for our lives, wherever we are is right where God has intended for us to be. All things work together for His and our own good; only He knows what is best for us and how to best use our individual gifts to bring glory to His name. I believe that me not exactly knowing what I wanted to do with my life early on is what eventually led me to special education and was all a part of God’s perfect plan for my life. I’m not always completely certain that I am headed down the right path, but I trust God in the fact that I am where he wants me to be.

    I think that as Christian teachers it is our responsibility to help our students see their own God-given gifts and talents (disability or not). Either way, God will lead His people to where he has designed to use them; however, we as teachers can be the service God uses to get his children to reach their full potential. Every human being, disability or not, is created in God’s image and is awarded gifts by Him alone. Each student that enters our classroom has a designed plan and God is using us as their teachers to fulfill it.

  9. Brie A.

    Dan,
    Thank you so much for your thoughts. Growing up, I attended a small Christian school. I went to this school from second grade until I graduated with the same peers and the same teachers I had always known. I graduated in a class of a mere 15 students and I loved my school! This school was a place of immense growth. I could tell you countless ways that the Lord was at work within my school in ways so much greater than just academically. Don’t get me wrong, academics are important. However, my school worked on developing the whole person. And they especially encouraged our spiritual development. The thing I loved most about my school was prayer. My school was founded on prayer. Walking into school every single day, I knew that I had been and would continue to be prayed for. Not only this, but the teachers showed that they loved and cared for us. They made sure that our needs were met, and not just academically. They always asked us how we were really doing. They always asked us how they could be praying for us. They encouraged us and made sure we knew that the Lord had great plans for us and was using us all in such unique ways. We were loved and we knew it.
    Growing up at this school is one of the main reasons that I felt called to be a teacher. The Lord works in the lives of students through their teachers. Students need to feel loved and cared for. They need to be encouraged and appreciated. They need to be challenged and helped.
    I hope to be a teacher who cares for my students and who prays for them. I hope to encourage my students daily and help them find ways in which they can improve and ways in which they are strong. I hope that through the Lord’s work within me, students will be lifted up and realize that they are not alone and that God has gifted them in countless ways. As teachers we must ensure that students know God has gifted them. He may not have made each one to be an amazing singer, an all-star athlete, or student who gets all A’s, but he has made each student, each person, with a unique set of gifts and talents that are to be used to give God the glory.

  10. I really enjoyed your post and I completely agree with your thoughts on how schools should operate today. It seems that in the past schools were much more focused on their curriculum than today. What I see in a lot of classrooms now is more individualized lessons and also some lessons that focus on group work and how to effectively work with others. These skills can help to form some basis for a future career. I wish I had experienced some of this in my schooling, because until a few years ago I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. I did take a vocational test, but the true way to see what you want to be is by developing your strengths and experiencing new things. It really is important that we teach students in the way that is best suited for them. If they succeed in visualized lesson, then we should incorporate as much visualization as possible. And if they prefer to be only auditory than we can incorporate that too. Like you said in your post, doing this will help to optimize their talents in the classroom.

  11. Alicia Sloothaak

    Hi Dan,
    I thought this was a great article because I think a lot of times people rather look at what someone cannot do rather than what they can achieve. It can be easy to focus on merely the challenges and limitations a person has to deal with, especially in a special education system. However, there is so much more than the hardships of their life; God gave each one of us special abilities that we are to use to glorify Him and His kingdom. When we realize what our talents are we can give all the reward to God and use them for His purpose.
    For myself, I have always been interested in becoming a teacher even since I was little. It was something that always sounded appealing, but for the longest time I did not know why I felt a push in that direction. Since starting college I have worked through some personal struggles of if this was the vocation that God was actually calling me too. I was not in tune with my capabilities and tended to doubt myself in what I had been pursuing for the longest time. However, I believe now that God has specifically called me to work in this field. I’ve learned to go by faith instead of my own understanding because that only leads to doubt, fear, and worry. For each student, educators should strive to treat them as individual children of Christ who all are blessed with talents and gifts from God.

  12. Kathryn W

    Hi Dan,

    Thank you for your post.

    I think exposure and experiences have such a significant impact on student’s choice of career and higher education. Your parents were wise to introduce you to so many stories and ways to further the Kingdom. Interest inventories can help narrow the search, but the decisions students make are often more closely related to experiences that have impacted their lives and the lives of those around them. Students with or without disabilities need to have opportunities to explore potential careers in authentic encounters with potential fields of study and professions.

    My high school offered a class for a term called Leadership Enhancement And Development (LEAD). In this class we designed or chose from a list of possible career or life skill oriented projects in which we prepared a portfolio of our research and development. My project focused on career preparation and allowed me to take an in depth look at special education as a profession and what it would take to achieve my goals. I talked with other people in the field, researched the salary and benefits and took interest inventories to look for consistencies among my skills, interests, and goals.

    Even students with special needs should have the chance to do or be a part of an organization or industry about which they are passionate. As Special Education teachers and related services personnel work to develop transition plans for students with Individualized Education Programs they should ensure the student has ample exposure to different potential jobs and possible careers that monopolize on their strengths.

    Attending a Christian College has been my first experience with a private Christian school and the significance it has had on my career and professional perspective is incredible. Incorporating faith into these decisions is absolutely critical for the development of the whole person. Special educators in Christian education have a responsibility to encourage prayerful consideration of future careers in collaboration with other adults dedicated to the success of the student.

    Career planning is not usually a simple process, challenging for those with and without disabilities, but with enough prayer and support the transition can be manageable.

  13. Michelle Interrante

    Dan,
    Thank you for your thoughts! I took a same sort of test when I was younger, the vocational test, and I remember it being pretty spot on. Growing up I was always the student helping other students. I knew from kindergarten that I wanted to be a teacher and my feelings on that have not changed since.

    I think identifying students gifts and talents is something that many teachers do not worry to much about and I think that is a problem. If a student is talented in art then have that be the focus of many projects in other subjects. Bring drawing into math or science. I think doing things like this will optimize their learning in the classroom and make them more confident in learning. I do think that when talking about group/cooperative work the teacher needs to be aware of the groups that they make and have a purpose for each person in that group. The group of people should be able to collaborate together and work together in the like and have a common purpose. I also think that it is very important to have the children know and appreciate that God has given them certain talents for a reason. I think it is the job or Christian teachers to instill in the students that God had a plan when He created each and every one of them and that they need to let their God-given talents flourish in and out of the classroom. I think the teachers need to emphasize that these talents and gifts are special so hopefully the students will too.

    I think it is very important for students to hear from other people who have been in their shoes about the future and about all of the choices and opportunities that there are out there. I think if they see a real life person doing what they want to do they will know that it is possible because that person once sat right in that desk they are sitting in and they made it.

    I think the ideas and aspects that you brought up in your writing are ones that many teachers and schools in general need to focus more on and put more emphasis on. I appreciate your writing and I hope that more teachers all over read this and think for positive change and how they can make their classroom environment a better place. Thanks again for your thoughts!

  14. Kim Zaagman

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for your article! I think what you wrote about is very important as a teacher. Growing up I have been extremely blessed because I for some reason knew I always wanted to be a teacher. At least since middle school, I have talked about being a teacher. Sure I have had some doubts along the way, but I decided to stick with it and am so glad I did. Not many people can say they always knew what they wanted to do. I think the decision is hard. At the age of eighteen, where kids are figuring out who they are have to figure out what direction they want their lives to go in. Now that does not mean you have to do what your college major is in. It is a big decision. Kids graduate high school having no idea of what their gifts are.

    I think teachers need to show students what their gifts/talents are. Schools need to do a better job of this. Christian schools do a pretty good job with this because answering God’s call is a focus in Christian schools. On the other hand, public school teachers are not able to build as close of a relationship with students as private school teachers due to class sizes. I believe our call as Christians is to honor God and serve Him. And since I am going to be a teacher, helping student realize their gifts is part of my calling. I think doing cooperative learning in a classroom will be a lot more beneficial to students if they are doing strengths teachers notice. This may require a lot more work on the teachers part, but it can help students in their future. In an IEP, we have to create transition plans for students. Teachers need to realize at a very early age some gifts/talents a student may have. That requires close attention and observation on the teachers part. I want to be a teacher that helps students realize their gifts and pray to God to help me realize their gifts.

  15. Nicole Q.

    I really enjoyed reading this post because it is relevant to all areas of education. As a special ed and elementary ed major, I see how the ideas your presenting can be applied to any classroom. Thinking back to my experiences in elementary, middle, and high school, there were so many times I felt confused about my talents and really never got any reassurance or direction from my teachers. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find my own direction, but I know there are many students that do not. Teachers have a responsibility to help students discover their talents. I think especially today, that teachers are being told to focus too much on the standardized testing and meeting certain criteria, which is causing them to lose focus on the students’ individual strengths. I think if more educators had this perspective that their students would be more successful in the long run.

  16. Kari LeGrand

    Dan,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! This is an especially thought-provoking post as it relates to each and every student within the education system.

    As a student, I was very unsure of what my future held. The only occupation I had ever been exposed to was that of an educator. This is because teaching is what my parents, grandparents and many other relatives went into. It wasn’t until highschool that I was asked what I thought my individual talents were and how I could best use them in my future vocation. Today, I did end up in the education program and am ecstatic about becoming a teacher. This isn’t because I’m following in anybody’s footsteps, but rather I was able to discover my own gifts and talents and I’ve learned where God wants to use me to further His kingdom.

    I definitely agree that it’s important for students to identify at a young age what their personal talents are and how they can best strengthen those talents. I think it’s important for educators to organize group activities, individual activities and other opportunities for students to discover these talents and gifts within the classroom. When discovered I also think it’s important for educators to figure out ways that they can best strengthen these talents like you mentioned. Whether that be grouping students with other peers who have similar strengths, or with peers who have completely different strengths so that they can really experience their own coming through in a group situation.

    I don’t have a great answer to how best approach this but I agree with you about how important it is to think about and experiment with these God-given gifts at a young age. It guides students to better follow God’s calling for their futures and learn which roads to take to get there.

  17. Emily Lucas

    Dan,
    Thank you for writing such a great article. I really very much enjoyed reading through it and hearing what you had to say about nurturing our students as they grow.
    I think this article struck home with me in a couple of different ways, the first and foremost being that I know the Lord has called me to work with children with special needs. He has given me a heart and a love for them I can’t explain, and it is my job to provide students with the tools and encouragement they need to enable them to develop not only their strengths, but also their weaknesses. I want my students to know that they are dearly loved, wonderfully made, and deeply treasured by the One who formed them in their mother’s womb exactly the way they are and that His power is made clear in their weaknesses. I also want my students to realize that while some things may be challenging, they are all incredibly talented and I want to help them develop those gifts and talents. I recently met a girl who is physically handicapped and is practically unable to use her arms. But, she can hold a paint brush and paint way better than I ever could. What a gift from God that is! And it could be something like painting, or being able to make people smile, all of these are gifts and talents from God that we should be encouraging our students to use and develop.
    I think that is why in a transition plan it is so important to focus on what strengths the student does have. Maybe they really like to clean- I know a young man with down syndrome who really likes to clean toilets- maybe they can paint, maybe they can make people smile, maybe they have an incredible vocabulary. These talents and gifts should be incorporated into the child’s transition plan and then there should be ways to give the students opportunities to develop and practice those skills even more. As a future teacher, I get the incredible opportunity to play a key role in doing that and I will have the opportunity to walk alongside my students in this process all the while showing them the love of Christ. What a blessing that is.

  18. Jessica Bordenaro

    Dan,

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post and it definitely resonated with me. Recently, I have been reflecting a lot on a study-abroad experience I had. Since coming back to America, I have found myself frustrated because I have so many choices. In one of the villages I visited while I was in Kenya, I noticed how tribe members are assigned spouses, jobs, roles, etc. at an early age and I remember seeing that as a terrible, restricting thing.

    In retrospect, I see the beauty in structure, purpose and clarity. There is no wondering what you will be when you grow up and spending thousands of dollars to get a degree for something that you might completely change your mind about. There is no room for decisions like that, and yet, everyone seems to be much happier than the Americans I interact with on a daily basis. I wish that someone had told me what I am good at, or meant to do. I wish I had been given a clear calling/purpose by someone near to me. I sometimes feel sick of wasting my time and money to find that stuff out on my own.

    I think that it is so important, as a future educator, to be that person who encourages students to go after there dreams. It is especially important for me, as a future special education teacher, to point out gifts and talents to my students in order to help them in their transition into the working world one day.

    This summer, I was observing in a high school special education summer school class and we did field trips that included going grocery shopping, and checking out books at the library. These tasks were not only fun, but beneficial to the students, and also allowed the teachers to learn more about what their students were good at and what they enjoyed so that they can better prepare them for their future.

    I think that having someone guiding you and helping you learn your strengths and weaknesses is super important. I don’t even think it is so bad to have someone tell you what they think you should do, so as long as it is something you are passionate about and willing to do.

  19. Chelsie Johnson

    Dan,

    Thank you for your thoughts! I truly appreciate this article because it touches on the reasons of why I want to become a teacher. However, before I knew that I wanted to become a teacher, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I have always enjoyed working with kids and thought about doing something ministry related because making an impact in the younger generations has been a passion of mine. That was when I thought that God was calling me to go into missions. However, I never had a peace in my heart and neither did my mom. She had always thought that I would be a great teacher because of my passion for kids. I had never thought about being a teacher at that point, but my heart instantly started to feel at peace and I knew THAT was what God had called me to be.

    I grew up in a public school system where we didn’t bring God and his calling into our career discussions. However, I hope to still show my students a Christ-like love. I hope to really get to know my students and their interests so that I may be able to point them in the direction that God has called them. I also think that it is important to pray that God helps to reveal his calling for each and every student in your class so you will be equip to help them in the way He wants you to. I want to help my students find their peace like I found mine.

  20. Alexander Tien

    Hey Dan,
    This is Gale Tien’s son Alex writing. He says hello. I really enjoyed your thoughts and ideas about this issue. I remember when I was in 7th grade at Zeeland Christian School, we filled out a career evaluation assessment. The assessment was very long and had some cool questions, but it didn’t really help me out too much. I remember it being a sort of competition between my friends and I who could get the coolest job. I knew already at this point that I was interested in being a teacher, and I was a little upset when this was not the result I received (I can’t remember exactly what I got, but it wasn’t what I wanted!)
    In high school, I didn’t really receive any career or vocational encouragement. At either of the high schools I attended (Holland Christian, Holland MI and Unity Christian, Orange City IA) I engaged in very little discussion about what I wanted to be later on in life. I think that an effective way of going about nurturing student’s gifts would be to bring it up in everyday conversation more often. I think that perhaps an assignment that asks and probes students about their God given talents could be a gateway to discussion about their calling. With that, I feel that teachers should be giving their students confidence in what they want to be. Especially at a Christian school, I feel that we should be instilling assurance and courage in students that they have a lot to offer in the “big world.” Although I really cherish the innocent and somewhat carefree times in high school, I wish that I would have done more thinking about my calling and what I could contribute to the world after adolescence. Thanks again for your thoughts and contributions, I appreciated your writing and hope to continue to follow this blog.
    - Alex

    • Alex,

      So good to hear from you! Thanks much for reading and responding to the post. I think your experience helps to validate my concern that we ought to be doing more to help kids identify gifts, calling, and passion. I really think that in newer ways of teaching such as project, problem, and passion based learning experiences, students have more opportunities to explore. May God bless you as you pursue teaching – I think you will be a great one!

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