By BEN MOORE
There’s More to Teaching Than I Ever Knew!
Venturing out into the unknown world of teaching and coaching as a 22-year-old graduate of Mississippi State University, I was extremely nervous. I prepared for the first day as best as I could. I asked the veteran teachers near my new room what I needed for the first day. Most of the responses were simple, “Have something for the students to do.”
Their advice led to one conclusion; if I were prepared, all would go smoothly. So, was I prepared? I had earned the degree. I came from a teacher’s home. God had given me the task of being a teacher. I had experience as student teacher. I was ready.
The first day came and I was not ready. Students had millions of questions about school procedures, athletics, and life in general. What do I say to a student that begins his story with, “Last night my parents left me at home alone.”?
I am 22 years old, fresh out of college. I don’t know how to handle this! Students with authority issues. Students with difficult home lives. Students with parents that are sick or divorcing. Students with a life-threatening illness. Students with baggage so heavy the strongest man in the world could not lift. How do I, even with all the enthusiasm in the world, impact a student with the love of Christ through all of the anguish, pain, and despair?
The classroom was not the problem. I could plan and implement a lesson with ease. I could guide students to meet objectives, collect data regarding student shortcomings, analyze the data, and facilitate student self-actualization of the skill or content. The teaching part was not a difficult task. But the interaction with students was the difficult part.
How could I impact students’ lives in a positive manner?
My answer came as I was standing in the cafeteria watching students eat—the dreaded cafeteria duty. A student walked up and blurted out, “What does it mean to repent?” I was shocked. I looked around to see if the government or administration was watching because I knew I could say very little. But I stammered a response anyway, “Why are you asking me?” It was a great Christian response, especially from a guy who thought he might be a preacher one day. The student replied, “Because I asked another student and they told me you would know. You have your Bible out on your desk.”
After a few breaths, I said, “Well, repent means to confess and turn away from your sin.” I tripped through an explanation of moving away from past sinful behaviors and making a conscious choice to follow God’s instructions. The student smiled and said thanks.
I still see the student as I walk up and down the hallway of my current school. The cafeteria event has traveled with me every day since.
God has a way of setting the stage for us. I have experienced both extreme highs and lows as a public educator. I have had difficulty with students, parents, administration, and other teachers. The job has been downright depressing at times. Yet, I was able to look back on what God instilled in the opening days of my teaching career to guide me through—God works in ways that I can’t imagine; I just simply have to love like Christ and he will fill in the gaps.
A teaching career moment I will never forget had little to do with education. I was having a bad day. My teaching experience was taking a turn for the worst as I was developing anxiety issues. Earlier in the year, I was having panic attacks.
One was so bad I had to go home. I slept from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then went back to sleep at 9 p.m. and slept until 5 a.m. the next morning. I was feeling the stress of state tests, AP tests, special education students, parent comments, coaching duties, and particularly feisty students.
I was feeling blue. However, God delivered me.
A student ran up to me while I was on hallway duty between class periods. He was very excited and could hardly get out the words: “I got saved last night at church.” I was overjoyed. I talked with him about his decision and his new future plans for quite a while. He left with a high-five and a jubilant smile. Again, I was shocked he came to talk with me about it. Curiously, I asked other teachers if he had talked with them about his decision. He had not told everyone. He had selected a few—and I was one of the few.
The next morning my devotion, My Utmost for His Highest, quoted Oswald Chambers,“Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe. Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging; therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.”
I walked into the classroom that day thinking that I never made a difference in a student’s life— that no matter what I did, it didn’t matter. I was merely a means to an end for these students. I thought that I was part of the ticket out of school. And my actions each day were simply routine.
But in reality, I was influencing students’ lives without saying anything to them. I was living a life I thought to be an honest, Christian life. I tried to show care and compassion to students while maintaining a high standard for behavior and academics.
With this student, I seemed to make an impression. It was not because of me nor was it for me that this student accepted Christ. That was a movement of God in his life. But I did impact the student enough that he wanted to come tell me.
Trusting God’s plan is very difficult. When the moments of disappointment arrive and the plan is blurry, continue to trust that God is in control. He will guide you, encourage you, and uplift you along the way. Do not lose heart. God is with us!
Ben Moore from Pontotoc loves God, family, soccer, and education. Find him at email@example.com, @btmoore81, or mooreben.weebly.com.