Teaching Beyond

Beth[1] taught a world history class. When she came to the section on Korean history, she realized she was out of her depth. She connected with several of her Korean students and their Korean School teachers. They worked out a joint project where the Korean students taught this material to the rest of the class. This initiative served to build bridges between the international school and the larger Korean community.

Dan coached high school girls’ basketball. Because of the school’s size and location, the team ended up playing the same few schools multiple times a season. During one game, Dan and his girls discovered that a starter on the other team was pregnant and would be out the rest of the season. The next time the two teams met, the girls on Dan’s team presented the mother-to-be with a number of baby-shower gifts. The relationship between rival schools was radically changed that day.

Jenni taught a middle school Bible class. As the students were studying the prophetic books of the Old Testament, Jenni emphasized God’s heart for the poor and the oppressed. In the country where Jenni served, Asian women were frequently duped into taking service jobs that promised to pay more than those in their home country. Unfortunately, once they arrived, they often found themselves in abusive and unsafe situations. As a part of their study of the prophets, Jenni and her students raised over $500 which they donated to an organization that rescues these women and helps them to return to their passport countries.

Lara and her second-grade students were studying volcanoes as a part of their science curriculum. They lived in a country with several active volcanoes. One of the parents at the school worked as a pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship. Lara reached out to him, and as result her students were able to fly over one of the volcanoes and get a bird’s-eye view of what a volcano actually looked like. Then they learned from the pilot how his job was impacted by volcanic activity in the region.

What do all these scenarios have in common? In each instance, the teacher or coach leveraged his/her connections within the local community. They invited their students to look beyond the school walls and invited those outside the school to come in.

One of the distinctive values of TeachBeyond is “our commitment to the idea of “teaching beyond.’[2]” We want our students—and our schools—to be “always thinking beyond to the world and its needs,[3]” and one of the ways we can do this is by proactively reaching out into our local community.

Students at Arbor Christian Academy visit the local dental practice to learn about oral health.

As you begin this new school year, I challenge you to think about ways that you can invite others in the school and local community into your classroom. What resources or expertise can parents, church members, or local neighbors bring into your students’ learning experience?

I also urge you to think about ways that your students can look outward and have an impact in the local community. Are there opportunities for you to serve or encourage or simply to love those outside the school walls? What would it take for this to happen?

Jesus instructed His disciples that “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another[4].” When we create opportunities for our students to connect with others in the local community both inside and outside our classrooms, we provide the chance for them to look beyond themselves and love others. We enhance the curriculum beyond what we alone can teach. And we build bridges to the local community, signaling we care about our neighbors, rather than walls which can create suspicion and hostility. It’s a win no matter how you look at it!

So, how will you teach beyond this coming school year? Please drop us a line at onpractice@teachbeyond.org and let us know.

Becky Hunsberger
Coordinator of Teacher Education Services
TeachBeyond Global

Photo Credits: Overlooking the World. via Shutterstock, shutterstock_622278395.jpg. Basketball. Franchise Opportunities, via Flickr, CC-02Volcano. ZackClark. wiki-media. Public Domain. Field trip. Arbor Christian Academy, 2019. 

[1] Names of all teachers have been changed for the sake of this article.

[2] TeachBeyond Distinctive #2.

[3] Ibid.

[4] John 13:35