As part of my Thanksgiving celebration, I want to spend the next few weeks featuring teachers who have impacted my life.
My mother: Although I have three college degrees in education and have attended a number of teacher training seminars, I owe most of what I know about teaching to my mother. She never sat me down and told me how to teach; in fact, she would deny that she taught me. But I learned the basics of teaching by simply watching her teach. I watched her teach our junior high Sunday school class at Pantano Christian Church, I served as a helper for her in Junior Church, and I watched her work with others to create an innovative approach to VBS before activity rotations became popular.
From her, I learned to not wait until Saturday night to start working on a Sunday morning lesson. I learned to be creative, to get students involved in the learning process, and to use a variety of teaching methods so you reach each child’s individual needs. I learned classroom management skills from her, such as the best way to prevent discipline problems in your class is to keep students active and involved. I learned that a teacher always needs to keep learning because I saw her read books on teaching and witnessed her daily quiet time. My mother was a model teacher.
Mrs. Keeling: The first thing Mrs. Keeling said when we walked into her first grade Sunday School class was, “Bring your Bibles next week. In this class, you’re going to use it every week.” Wide eyed, I went home and told my mother I had to have a Bible right away because Mrs. Keeling said so! From Mrs. Keeling I learned that my faith revolved around the words found in that Bible, that the Bible was not so sacred, you didn’t touch it; it was to be opened and used and applied to my life every day.
Mrs. Keeling would always cry on Promotion Sunday because “her kids” were leaving her. Later in life, Mrs. Keeling lost all her eyesight, but she kept teaching. Our Sunday School superintendent read the lessons on to a cassette tape and her nominally Christian husband started to attend every Sunday with her to help her in class. We’re not sure if the attraction was her seeing eye dog or her love for the children, but her class became the largest in the Sunday School. I was a young teenager at the time, struggling with my own visual limitation and my place in the world. Her persistence in teaching had tremendous impact on me. If God could still use her in spite of her visual loss, He had a place for me too.