This is the beginning of examining, what I term, twelve Faith Enhancing Practices. (For an explanation and definition of Faith Enhancing Practices see my post of February 3, 2007 entitled “What’s the difference between teachers?”) If you are interested in seeing all 12 Faith Enhancing Practice modules at once, you can go to the Member Community Center and access them there.
Without a doubt, the most important Faith Enhancing Practice is the practice of teacher modeling and testimony in and out of school. In his book Educating for Life, Nicholas Wolterstorff states: “Authentic Christian teaching is autobiographical teaching.” I doubt that one can be an effective Christian teacher if you are not passionate about your relationship with the Lord. Students quickly can tell you the things about which you regularly express passion. Hence the maxim “Students will not remember all you taught them, but will remember how you taught them.”
In our hiring, interviewing, and training of new teachers we need to discern the worldview of the teacher. As Frank Gabelein states: “The fact is inescapable; the world view of the teacher, in so far as he is effective, gradually conditions the world view of the pupil. No man teaches out of a philosophical vacuum. In one way or another, every teacher expresses the convictions he lives by, whether they be spiritually positive or negative” (The Pattern of God’s Truth: The Integration of Faith and Learning).
Key words when we think of modeling as demonstrated by the authentic Christian teacher include love, forgiveness, congruence, service, and a passion for loving and serving God. Not only will the fruits of the Spirit be demonstrated, but testimony will be given to help connect students to the source of this passion and joy in living.
Note also that I have added the words in and out of the classroom, for the life of an effective Christian teacher also is a 24/7 commitment to demonstrate an authentic and congruent life. A higher standard – yes – for a high calling!