“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV
We are all called to be light in this world. This can be a challenge especially when working in a secular national school. Some TeachBeyond members are in countries where it is illegal to evangelize, others of us teach in a place where it would be considered unprofessional or would be seen as culturally insensitive. So how do we go about sharing our faith when we can’t do so overtly?
Before we go much farther, we need to recognize that our job is to be an excellent teacher, first and foremost. It is important to live and work with integrity, doing our best to serve Christ and others. Without this, the light within us won’t be given much opportunity to shine forth.
Get to know your students. We all long to be known. It is one of the things that is precious about being a Christian: we are known by our Father and Creator. It is also an important part of transformational education. We need to know our students before we can really serve them or minister to them. I’ve found that taking a personal interest in students goes a long way towards opening doors for light giving moments to take place. This article from Cult of Pedagogy is filled with ideas and resources to help you connect with your students in a real, meaningful way. Add some of these strategies to your routine to help pave the way for personal connections.
Special interests. Hosting an after school club is another way to get to know your students outside of the classroom. Some Teach ESL teachers have had success with English Clubs, Film Clubs, Drama Clubs, and Coffee Talks. All of these offer a good venue to discuss things of a more spiritual nature.
Happy holidays. Holidays are a natural way to incorporate your faith in the classroom. It’s hard to talk about Christmas or Easter without mentioning Jesus. Most schools see these topics as a cultural lessons, but double check to be sure is ok with your school to deliver lessons on these holidays.
Citizenship lessons. One teacher introduced these lessons to help build integrity in her students. She would have a weekly focus on a quality such as honesty or grace. She gave a short lesson and would reward students who demonstrated these attributes during the week. Along a similar vein, lessons emphasizing academic virtues can help introduce concepts that may lead to deeper curiosity about things of a spiritual nature. Philip Dow’s book Virtuous Minds is a good resource to help you get started with this.
Pray for your students. You may be the only person lifting your students up to the Lord. I feel like this is one of the most important ways to minister to your students. I made a prayer card for each of my students and would pull out a few every morning to pray over. During tests, I would pray for each student as I made sure they were on task. Though you may not see the results, each prayer is still a powerful way to bless your students.
Honestly, our ability to be light-bearers all boils down to love. We need to love our students well, just as Christ loves us. It is out of our relationships (forged by the way we love our students) that the opportunity to share more openly will occur. For more ideas on how to show Christ to our students, check out this article from Teach4theheart.
Manager, TeachESL Program