During my first year of teaching, I opened my desk drawer to a little green snake flicking its tongue at me after I had naively told a freshman class about my fear of snakes. I appropriately reacted to my class’s delight. By my second year, I learned to laugh at relatively harmless pranks when confronting senior girls in the restroom who were wrapping Saran wrap under the toilet seat. Twenty years in, I watched an assistant principal trying to catch humongous frogs hopping down a hallway during the last week of school, each jump being at least six feet in length (the frog’s leap, that is).
Today’s social distancing, however, is making it hard for teachers to enjoy such relatively playful innocence. Instead, they are confronting Zoom fatigue, canceled end-of-year field days and graduations, and an uncertain future of dashed hopes and dreams. When only a desk separates a teacher and a student, the connection is intimate. When cyberspace intrudes, the world is too distant to put an arm physically around a kid who is struggling. This COVID-19 prank is not what young minds envisioned and far from what teachers love about being up close and personal with students.
But bridging the gap begins with studying what the master teacher did to reach out to those in need. Of the 90 times Jesus was addressed directly in the gospels, 60 times he was called “teacher,” building a strong résumé for his final command to his disciples: “Go into all the world and teach all nations…” His schedule was demanding as he traveled from town to town. He taught multitudes during the Sermon on the Mount and tutored individuals, such as the woman at the well. His methodology of using parables was reinforced by the example of his life. He preached with authority, purpose, wisdom, compassion, and He always placed people first.
Not everyone can create the perfect lesson plan like Christ did. Not everyone can come up every time with the spot-on answer to the challenge at hand. But the teachers I know work hard at going into all the world (virtual though it may be) to teach kids. Their hearts live in the classroom because Christ lives in their hearts…an evaluation worth honoring for those called to teach in His love. So if you were or your child is ornery enough (or not) to put green snakes in desk drawers, thank a teacher this week. As Christ looks down with a smile, it’s worth the effort in furthering His kingdom here on earth.
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