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I was recently reading a book about Christian teaching for a course I was taking. In one particular section, the author was unpacking the idea of a Christian mind and had some interesting things to say about how a non-Christian and Christian teacher might differ. This included the idea that they might both think the same way about something, but the Christian teacher will think about more and from a deeper context. While not untrue, I felt like the author was missing out on part of what it means to teach Christianly. Yes, we do think about more when we arrange our desks, design learning activities and assessments, and create rhythms around beginning and ending classes. We think about more when we marvel with our students at cells in Science or irrational numbers in Math. We also think about more when we make choices like how to make teams in PE, which book to use for a novel study in English, or what kind of wood to use for a project in Woodworking. There are many intentional decisions we make, but there’s much more to being a Christian teacher than simply the stuff we plan for and do on purpose. Every teacher knows you can do all the planning in the world, but until the “who” walks in your door, it’s completely abstract. It’s within the dynamics of the relationships with and between our students that the magic really happens. However, that magic is subtle and even complex, and we may miss it if we aren’t open to or expecting it.
Every teacher knows you can do all the planning in the world, but until the “who” walks in your door, it’s completely abstract. It’s within the dynamics of the relationships with and between our students that the magic really happens.
Advent is a period of expectant waiting. It’s possible that, like the Israelites, we may not even know exactly what we are waiting for, but we still expect that it will be good and true. By paying attention and being open to moments where God is working and revealing Himself, we may in fact be engaging Him more deeply than in the ways we intend or think about beforehand. In his book Being Disciples, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams notes it is important that we are attentive to and expectant of these moments. He says: “This habit of attentiveness and expectancy towards God and one another results, or overflows, in a mode of being and action in the world that…actually allow God-shaped change to take place around you.” Being a Christian teacher, then, is more than just about what we plan. It is also embedded in a posture of being open to what God is doing in real time, right in front of us, with these students that we are entrusted with.