How you can grow that which is most important
After hearing Ken Badley’s closing at the 2012 convention, I feel like I’ve been cheating for a long time. I knew how I kept my passion for teaching alive for the past fifteen years, I’ve moved a lot; not only grades, but schools and countries. Ken suggested change 10-15% of the curriculum every year, which is a great idea. I’ve changed 100% of my curriculum 7 times in the last 15 years. Last year marked the longest I’ve ever stayed in one location – four years, and even then I changed grades twice. So I admit, I’ve cheated in keeping the passion for teaching alive – moving countries, schools and grades forces you to re-evaluate what is important to you in teaching, and ask yourself how you can grow that which is most important wherever you go.
Another piece of advice Ken Badley suggested is leading workshops and taking courses. At every teaching position I had a supportive principal who encouraged or allowed me to try new things. I also had supportive sta around me, who saw my gifts and encouraged them or led me to opportunities to use them. Finally, I married in 2001 and now have a wonderful, supportive wife who says things like “Sure, you can leave me with four kids and go write curriculum for two days.” or “Sure, you can leave me with four kids to have two weeks in the summer to take a course.” Without her support, I’m sure that the opportunities I’ve had to engage in passionate exploration of what it means to teach could not have happened.
God has equipped me with gifts and strengths that allow me to keep my passion for teaching. According to Strength Finders 2.0 two of my top five strengths are adaptability and learner. These gifts also help me keep my passion for teaching. Adaptability allows me to throw myself into new situations, forcing myself to adjust and grow in these areas. Being a learner helps me look for opportunities to learn more about becoming a passionate educator. Combined, these two strengths allow me to question my own educational practices and challenge myself to do better.
Finally, for me, it comes down to viewing the students as gifts of God, given to you for a time. It should be our deep desire, as educators, to grow them during this time, in the best way possible, not only as students, but more importantly as fellow kingdom builders. And if that is our desire, then we must continually strive to make better and better choices in the way we teach that they not only learn the content of the lesson, but that our students are able to discover what it means to be a passionate learner of all parts of God’s kingdom.