Who is in charge around here anyway? It does not matter what class we are talking about – High School Geometry, Kindergarten Phonics, Third Grade Science or 7th grade English. Someone is in charge. Principals hope it is the teacher! What are you doing as a teacher to be in charge of your classroom?
First, as a teacher, you must prepare for each subject you teach each and every day. Ninety percent of the success of a project is in the preparation. Preparation enables the teacher to be confident and enthusiastic about the subject. If you have any “dead time” during your class time because you are looking for a test, or you are thinking of questions to ask, or you are checking homework papers without giving your class something to do, you are not going to be in charge of what your students are doing. They will find something to do during those moments! Prepare your classroom. Be sure that it is clean and orderly before the students arrive. Check the temperature of the learning area to make sure that it is comfortable. Prepare board work for the next day before leaving school the night before. Of course, as Christian educators, we must not forget the most important part of preparation and that is prayer. All of the previously mentioned items, without prayer, will be powerless. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us as we stand before our students. There are many examples of successful teachers who have taught for thirty or more years who came early in the morning and prayed by each of their students’ desks.
Second, a teacher must be punctual. Rise early, spending your first moments with the Lord and then arrive to school early. Welcome your students to the classroom. Your teaching day begins when the first student enters your classroom. Honor deadlines as much as possible. These deadlines would be those which are made by your administration as well as those you create in your classroom for tests, quizzes, book reports, essays, etc. This builds credibility with your parents as well as with your administration. Your testimony of being reliable, responsible and punctual will reflect your love for your students and teaching.
Third, a teacher must be proactive. Pray for God’s wisdom as you start your day. We have a favorite saying at our church, “See the need, take the lead.” Be one step ahead of your students. Anticipate problems or challenges that may arise over specific subject matter. Think of that struggling student when you are preparing a math lesson and try to answer his questions before he asks in your explanations. Using lesson plans will help you know the subject matter to be taught and you can add, with the approval of your administration, educational DVDs or on-line demonstrations to enhance that class instruction.
Fourth, encourage class participation. You can teach for seven and one half hours, have a quiet classroom of students, but have no learning taking place. Student participation is so important in the learning process. “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand.” You must balance this with strong leadership from you as the teacher so the students don’t become in charge. The more involved students are in discussions and hands-on participation, the more those students will excel in the subject matter. Participation builds enthusiasm!
Fifth, lead your class in special programs. Contests, involving reading or the learning of facts, are always fun. Great Americans Day would promote learning and writing about a patriot of the past, maybe dressing up like the character. A Thanksgiving feast would help students remember how God provided at the start of this country. An Inventor’s Fair would encourage your students with scientific minds. A Geography poster contest would encourage knowledge of locations of missionaries or important world events. A Veteran’s Day potluck would show thankfulness to those who have served our country, teaching our students the importance of remembering our heritage. Lead them in giving to special offerings, writing notes to those in the service of our country or making a special Christmas basket for a widow in your church. Use these programs to lead them in being others-centered.
Finally, partner with parents. Begin early in the school year, building a positive relationship with the parents of your students. A home visit, a personally written note, or a phone call within the first weeks of school shows your genuine interest in their family. Communicate often with the parents and balance the negative with the positive comments. Let them know when their child is improving in areas that you have discussed with them. Make a phone call in the middle of the day if a grade improved on a test just taken. Do not quit trying to communicate with parents, although their schedules may be difficult. Document your communication and do not rely on your memory. The documentation will help you stay consistent. Encourage parents that you are praying for them as you work together to educate their children.
Being in charge is simply doing what God has given you and doing it with His strength. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest,” Ecclesiastes 9:10. Charge!