Addressing the Culture of Harassment

By Anna Deckert
Mission Network News

Allegations of sexual assault and harassment have dominated news and discussions in the U.S. recently. What is TeachBeyond’s response to this moral issue? President George Durance was interviewed recently by Mission Network News for a radio program about this.

George said TeachBeyond seeks to do more than mask poor behavior and sinful beliefs with a culturally appropriate cover. We want to help children and adults solve the big issues with the truth of the gospel. Right living corresponds with a new heart.

“In the United States there’s been an awakening in the culture to things that were understood to be here, but you couldn’t talk about them. All of sudden it’s out in the public and people are morally outraged. There’s been a tremendous hurt and abuse of power.” he said.

“Yes we have a cultural problem in America, but it’s a deeper thing than that because it crosses cultures and it crosses time,” he adds. “We have to ask ourselves what really is the problem? And I think the Bible gives us a very different explanation than what we would pick up in Time [magazine] or popular culture today.”

“Our Lord told us the main issue starts way back in the heart. So He said to people if you are thinking lustfully about a woman, then that’s the equivalent of actually doing it. The sin is all the way back into the thought, and if we can deal with the thought, if we can have God address the thought issue, the heart issue, and the mind issue, then I don’t think we’re going to have to worry so much about the behavior.”

Where does this discussion intersect with the mission of TeachBeyond? Listen to his interview and find out.

team competition

Using Classroom Conversations to Build Language Fluency

conversationWhen working with ESL students in the classroom, getting them to use their English can sometimes be a challenge. Building conversation into classes can aid in fluency and communication, and can help students build their confidence in their speaking skills.

Many teachers who are new to using conversation will pose a question from a list of conversation starters and expect the students to engage. The usual result is the sound of crickets and blank stares. So how do we go about structuring an effective conversation class[1] or classroom discussion?

First, content is key. The students will need to have some interest in the topic for them to be engaged. Even if they don’t have a personal interest in the subject, it is good to establish why it is important or useful. Maybe it is something they are studying in their other classes and they need more practice speaking about it. It could be as simple as it being part of their leaving exams. Whatever the case, it is important for students to find a connection to the material.

The second thing to remember is that you want all of your students to have practice speaking. Try to include pair work or small group activities to facilitate more talk time. You also want to limit the amount of time you speak as much as possible. A good rule of thumb is students should speak for about 80% of the lesson. This article has several strategies to help you reduce teacher talk.

Start with a hook, something that grabs the students’ attention. This could be a question to see what background knowledge the students have on the chosen topic, a picture, a short video clip, or a quick reading. The goal is to pique student interest.

EC Teaching picNext, present any new vocabulary or grammar structures the students might need to discuss this topic or complete the planned activities. Try to keep this part short: 5-7 minutes should be all you need. It is important to have some practice activities to help the students master this new information.

The actual speaking/discussion activities should take up the bulk of your lesson time. It is best to break your students into small groups or pairs. You may have to model the activity to be sure the students understand what is expected of them. The students should know how you plan to evaluate their progress and participation.

There are many types of activities which work well in conversations classes. Incorporate movement as often as you can. Chat stations are an effective way to get students moving and talking at the same time. Links to more activities and resources are provided below.

Conversation classes are a great way to build student confidence and should be a safe place for students to practice the target language. Students learn how to express themselves and relay information they have learned. It is also a good way to connect with your students and understand them and their culture better (and possibly have fun in the process).

Activity ideas:

Additional resources:


Jessica Weaver
Manager, Teach ESL Program
[1] Jessica Weaver heads TeachBeyond’s Teach ESL program. Most of the teachers in this program teach English Conversation classes where the school’s instructions to the teachers is, “Just get them speaking in English.” This is easier said than done. The same skills needed for these teachers to run a conversation class can be transferred to English language learners in the mainstreamed classroom as well–as Jessica’s article points out.

Photo Credits: photos courtesy of TeachBeyond English Language Camps

Transform-ed: Being Present

From a teacher in Europe:

n-scamppicIn October I led the Sophomore class to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in France. It was a moving experience for everyone. Some historical events, however, defy attempts at explanations by the history teacher. Even partial insights seem trite. You just tell the story, pray for those still affected, and listen to the silence of 54 usually noisy kids. In our shared shock I queried my students, “What keeps any of us from slipping into exercising the same bizarre brutality?” My theology says nothing – nothing but God’s grace. So our corporate prayer was and is for mercy and grace. With the good news of God’s work in Christ I find peace enough for the night.

Transformational education is… being present in the moment. Learning. Listening. Growing.


Renovating Dorm for Refugees

TeachBeyond will accommodate refugees arriving in Germany from the Middle East in Haus Blauen, an empty Black Forest Academy dorm, after it has been renovated.

We are collecting funds to pay for the renovation. You can give here –

An architect is working on the renovation of Blauen for fire protection and fire escape routes. The dorm will be able to house about 20 refugees, according to Black Forest Academy’s business manager, Markus Becker. TeachBeyond staff members Natalie Rudolph and Susanne Seywald will spend three days a week assisting the refugees, Becker said.

More than 200 residents of the combined towns of Malsburg and Marzell recently attended an informational meeting. The mood in the crowded Marzell town hall was marked by skepticism, but also of helpfulness. “There is a legal obligation to accept refugees,” Mayor Gerd Schweinlin explained. In 2014, Marzell accepted three Chinese women who are refugees, housing them in a city-owned apartment. This year the town must accept five more.

Mayor Schweinlin encouraged local residents to reach out to the refugees and to volunteer. He wants have a list in the town hall where people can sign up to provide driving services, German lessons and other assistance.

Pastor Susanne Rosskopf offered the help of the local church, and others are willing to open a café where local residents can meet the refugees and get to know them.

Transform-ed: Patient for God Appointments

childFrom a teacher in Asia:

The long-time desire of my heart has been to work with orphans and needy children, so imagine my delight when I was invited to visit an orphanage near our city. Unfortunately, the day before I was to go the trip was cancelled. I was so disappointed. On further reflection, I realized I was so caught up in my plans I’d convinced myself it was what God wanted. I believe one day God will open a door for work with needy children; and no matter what He chooses to do, I will not lose hope.

Transformational education requires…waiting for God’s best timing and His appointments.

Opportunities to Serve Abound!

Check out this exciting news from our mobilization team regarding TeachBeyond service opportunities around the world!

2015-6 Opportunities!

Some of our new members at Orientation 2014

Some of our new members at Orientation 2014

New Date for Steinbach Reunion: Sept. 28!


Do you live in Manitoba? Have you worked for TeachBeyond or Janz Team in the past (or the present!)?

Come to our 60th anniversary celebration and alumni reunion on September 28, 2014!

We’re celebrating our past — and we’re celebrating your faithful service! It has taken a lot of people to bring us to where we are today. You are part of our history and we want to say “thank you” in this small way!

Sunday, September 28 at 3:00 pm

Mennonite Heritage Village Museum
The Livery Barn Restaurant
Steinbach, Manitoba

Free meal — homemade soup, bread & pie!
Gift bags & door prizes!
Testimonies of God’s faithfulness!

Register by September 19! Click on this link: