Teaching is more than just the recitation of information. Great teachers go above and beyond spouting off facts and actually make an impact in the lives of their students. I want to be a great teacher. According to Richards and Bedfeldt, a great teacher communicates with clarity, stimulates and maintains interest in learning, teaches creatively, and most importantly values and respects his or her students. Therefore, the role of a teacher is to cultivate and foster the appetite and discipline for learning that ultimately leads to a student’s life change.
I believe that the most important steps that I can take to continue to fulfill this role are all connected to my personal, spiritual, and physical disciplines. These disciplines allow me to be organized, self-controlled, prepared, and trained to lead students on their own personal learning journey. For example, I systematically and regularly spend quality time reading, studying, and memorizing the scriptures on a daily basis. This key step is the foundation upon which all of my teaching is built. Another step that I take to fulfill the role of a great teacher is that I never stop learning. I read between four to six books a month on a variety of topics, I frequently listen to great preachers and speakers, and I continue to pursue traditional academic goals. I am convinced that my excitement for learning spreads to my students because they see in me the joy that comes from the education process. I also take care of myself physically. Not only does this allow me to maintain discipline, it also gives me the healthy energy that is needed to work with students and to creatively communicate truth. Accountability is also an important factor. Thankfully, the colleges that I work for have detailed and effective evaluation systems in place to make sure that I am growing and effective in my role as an instructor. In the local church context, I have a group of trusted confidants who have access to speak to the creativity and effectiveness of my biblical teaching and preaching.
Why do all of that? Simple: Real learning takes place when students are fully engaged in the process. If I expect my students to be fully engaged then I must be fully engaged.
Mitchell, David R. A Metamodel for Teaching and Learning: A Pre-Requisite, n.d
Richards, Lawrence O. and Bedfeldt, Gary J. Creative Bible Teaching, Revised and Expanded Ed. Moody Publishers, 1998
This post originally appeared as “The Role of the Teacher.”