The other day, I was getting prepared for a sermon on praying. I looked up the word “prayer” in my dictionary and the first definition I saw was “a person who prays”. Which put a whole new spin on the idea of prayers! The person who prays is a prayer!
It’s the same idea with teaching. A teacher is a person who teaches! It doesn’t require a degree or a certification or a license to teach. Some of the most important teachers that we’ve had, didn’t especially want to teach us anything. They were just living their lives and, as we watched them, we learned.
I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and got my first job teaching fourth grade in Coffeyville, Ks. I was awake all night before the first day of school, agonizing over my first day. The odd thing is that I was not agonizing over how I would teach Math or English. I wasn’t worried about how I was going to memorize the names of my students. The subject that I obsessed about was how to start the day. The ruling had just come down that the Lord’s Prayer shouldn’t be said in the classrooms. My principal said that he thought that repeating the Lord’s Prayer would be a good start to the day.
It was a toss-up. I could start the day with prayer (which was desperately needed for both students and teacher) or I could start with the Flag Salute. I kept having visions of the police rushing into my classroom and arresting me on the spot if I used the Lord’s Prayer, so I opted for the safer Flag Salute and that became my morning routine for all the years I taught.
School teachers come to the decision to teach in a classroom from lots of different directions. Some of us have a family history of teachers and some of us were lucky enough to have studied under a memorable teacher. Some of us had no memory of any good experiences with a classroom teacher – we just kind of stumbled into the career. Maybe we were asked to help a friend who happened to teach!
Teaching isn’t a typical 9-to-5 job. It tends to last all day, every day of the week, for the whole year – August through July. Teaching is what we do whether we’re in front of a classroom or teaching our kids how to mow the lawn. There is a compulsion within us to pass our knowledge on to others. It’s how we can impact the future!
Knowledge is generally hard-won. I had a cousin who was learning to drive and, during the process she broke her nose when she hit the brake instead of the accelerator. We don’t always have to break bones in order to learn something but those times when we come close are certainly memorable. Those are the lessons we learn the best!
Even if you’re not in front of a class, you are in front of someone – whether you see them or not! Someone is probably watching you from somewhere. How you handle your life is teaching them.
I was listening to a cattleman talk about his cattle. He got the saddest look on his face when he talked about having to kill one of his cows. I learned that sometimes we must do hard things and we can feel sad when we do them and we can study how to do them the best way – but they still must be done.
I can watch a lady yank on a child’s arm and scream and I can watch the child cry and I can learn not to ever do that to anyone. One of these days, I’ll learn to punch the lady in the nose! People are learning all kinds of things from you – whether you want to teach them or not! I read somewhere that, if you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning!