How Important Is Scripture In Your Classroom?

A look at Jewish history



One of the most outstanding women in Jewish history was Queen Salome Alexandra who reigned from 78-69 B. C.  Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach, the famous leader of the Sanhedrin, was her brother. He made elementary education compulsory for all Jewish boys.  Joshua ben-Gamala, who was High Priest from 63-65 A.D., established that teachers should be appointed for every district. The subjects taught were reading, writing, natural history, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and the Scriptures. A teacher was held in high honor. In some cases, respect for the teacher probably surpassed parental respect.

Though various subjects were taught, the main emphasis was on the Torah, emphasizing both reading and writing Scripture. Large portions were memorized and it is likely that many students knew the entire Torah by memory by the time their elementary education was finished.  When a student turned ten, he entered “secondary school,” in which he studied oral Torah and learned Greek, Greek being considered the language of business and politics in the Roman world. During this time, male students would also find a teacher to “follow”, and in a way become their apprentice. When Jesus was a student, he chose to follow John the Baptist. It is at this point that a boy would participate in his first Passover in Jerusalem. Jesus’ excellent questions for the teachers in the temple at his first Passover indicate the excellent education He had received.

Students studied seven days a week, and even went to school instead of the synagogue. The reason students did this was not because the Jews of Jesus’ day considered biblical education more important than worship. It was because they did not separate education of the Torah from worship. In fact, education of the Torah was considered the highest form of worship. For Jesus, and for the Jews of Jesus’ day, school and synagogue were not separate or independent.  No, not at all, they were integrated.  In fact, the meaning of the word synagogue is: “the building where a Jewish assembly or congregation meets for religious worship and instruction.”

During the time of Christ, from birth to around thirteen years of age, a child’s life would have been focused on education.  This would include both boys and girls, girls now being included in Jewish compulsory education.  Though little is stated about Jesus’ childhood, we know that he “grew in wisdom” as a boy (Luke 2:52) and that he reached the “fulfilling of the commandments” indicated by His first Passover at age twelve (Luke 2:41). He then learned a trade (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3); spent time with John the Baptist (Luke 3:21; John 3:22-26) and began his ministry at about thirty (Luke 3:23). This parallels the Mishnah description of Jewish education quite closely.

While there are many things we can learn from the schools Jesus attended, I have chosen five.

  1. The most important subject to be learned is the Bible. More time should be devoted to learning and understanding its contents than any other subject.  It should be taught by the best teachers, should be the most demanding subject, and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that at one’s school learning the Scriptures reigns supreme.
  2. Students are capable of far more than is generally believed. By age ten, a Jewish student had memorized the first five books of the Bible and was learning Greek.
  3. When God’s glory is the motive behind the education being given, the whole process is a grand act of the worship of God.
  4. Schools of elementary and secondary education should be viewed by churches as a God given responsibility, either to sponsor or to support. After all, is that not what the Great Commission commands?  (Matt. 28:19-20)
  5. Educators should insure that students do more than memorize. They must make sure they also understand.

What changes in your classroom could be made to incorporate more scripture?

Meaning-FULL Vocabulary

wordle-2There is no doubt that a strong, robust vocabulary is the mark of an educated person.  However, moving our students from the mundane to the robust takes intentionality and some practice.  Just handing out a page with words and definitions on it is not enough to create a strong vocabulary in our students.  Students must interact with words in rich, intentional ways both inside and outside the classroom.

How can we make our vocabulary instruction “meaning-FULL”?  The most important thing teachers can do is to choose words wisely.  This may necessitate deviating from a list given in a reader or curriculum guide and evaluating each word carefully, adding and subtracting until we keep only the best words.

  • Choose words that students can define with words they already know.

Effective instructions links new material to what the student already knows.  Nowhere does this hold more true than in vocabulary instruction.  Students must be able to define a word with words they already know or the word is not an age-appropriate selection.  (No thesauruses allowed!)

  • Choose words students are likely to hear, see, or use again.

My first year teaching The Bronze Bow, I taught the word “phylactery” as a vocabulary word; however, actually bringing in a real phylactery was a much better instructional tool.   I removed “phylactery” and replaced it with the word “ravenous,” a much better selection. Vocabulary work should be saved for words that cross contexts and times.

  • Choose words that have instructional potential.

Words like “tenacity” and “capricious” offer opportunities for character instruction (both positive and negative).

“Vocabulary Work-Up”

For the past seven years, I have been teaching vocabulary through a system I call a “Vocabulary Work-Up.”  Students prepare for the class discussion by interacting with the given words in five ways (see below).  They bring their written work to class and share what they have found with the class.  The teacher guides the discussion, affirming correct understanding or redirecting student work as necessary.  Each student is responsible to follow the discussion and to correct their work based on teacher and peer remarks.  This discussion typically takes 60 – 75 minutes (for 10 words).   There are no worksheets, memorization of definitions, or extra pencil-work between the discussion and the quiz.  Students are encouraged to use a word each day in a sentence with me.  The sentences must pertain to their life.  This interaction allows me to hear their pronunciation, monitor usage, and correct nuance (and get to know my students a bit better, too!).  It allows the student to “own” the words and to begin to incorporate them into their vocabulary.  (Each proper sentence earns a small piece of candy.)

Discussion Preparation

Below are the guidelines given to students for their discussion preparation.  Each word is “worked up” on a separate page of a marbled composition notebook.

  1. Context – Find the word in the text and give the complete
  1. Definition – Look the word up in the dictionary to help you understand what it means. Then, write the definition in your own words.
  1. Part of Speech – Identify the part of speech of the word as it appears in the context. Leave room to write more uses as we discuss them.
  1. Synonym/Antonym/Illustration – Choose two:
  • Give a synonym (syn.) of the word.  Use a word that you already know rather than looking up words in the thesaurus.
  • Give an antonym (ant.) of the word. Again, use a word you already know.
  • Draw an illustration.
  1. Original Sentence – Write an original sentence using the word correctly.

This approach has been successfully modified for use in younger grades and intensified for use in middle/high school.  Using this approach allows my sixth graders to master 180-200 words each school year and makes vocabulary the most meaning-FULL thing we do all year.

How do you approach vocabulary instruction in your classroom?

(For practical help in vocabulary instruction, check out Bringing Words to Life:  Robust Vocabulary Instruction by Beck, et. al.  This book offers excellent advice for word choice and some superb examples.  The companion book by the same authors, Creating Robust Vocabulary, offers practical application as well.)

Adding Spice to Your Reading Instruction

 Teaching with Variety

“Variety is the spice of life” is an idiom which refers to the idea that individuals prefer to participate in a variety of experiences instead of doing the same thing all the time. People like variety. You see this in everyday life when you shop for ice cream. This idea also applies to education, specifically to the teaching of reading. Doing the same thing every day is boring for students and teachers. You can add spicesvariety to your reading instruction by changing your reading groups, reading texts, and reading responses.

Reading Groups

Teaching the whole class ensures all students receive the same instruction. It also saves planning time and class time. However, this form of grouping does not meet individual needs, makes it difficult to involve all students in a discussion, and makes it more difficult to informally assess individual students. Teaching the whole class is best saved for teaching phonics, vocabulary, and specific reading skills/strategies that all students need (drawing conclusions, comparing/contrasting, summarizing).

Teaching with ability or skill groups meets the needs of the individual student or group by helping struggling readers and challenging proficient readers. When using small groups, more students participate in the discussion and informal assessment is easier to manage. Ability groups also enable you to provide text at students’ instructional reading level. Teaching skill groups is best used to reteach or practice specific skills.

Partner groups provide students with opportunities to assist others. The use of partner groups requires training and good classroom management so students stay on-task and cooperate with each other. Partner groups are effective for repeated oral reading to increase oral fluency and reciprocal reading (one student reads a page while the other listens and asks questions or summarizes what was read and then students switch roles).

Research groups also require training as students learn to cooperate with group members. Students with similar interests choose a topic. They develop research skills by locating information in books and on the Internet. Struggling readers benefit by working with proficient readers. Students share their research by writing reports, making posters, or giving presentations. Research groups give students authentic purposes for reading.

Literature groups (circles) involve students who read the same book. Most teachers offer students a choice of four or five books (historical fiction is often used). Students are assigned a job sheet to complete while independently reading the chapter. Students meet to discuss the reading. Literature groups develop leadership skills by providing students the opportunity to run their own group while the teacher moves among the groups and facilitate.

Literature Circle Roles

Discussion Director: writes questions for the group

Vocabulary Enricher: chooses difficult words to explain

Character Analyzer: identifies character traits with supporting details

Passage Picker: chooses passages to read aloud

Text Connector: connects the text to real life or a different story

Summarizer: summarizes what previously happened

Reading Texts

Narrative text contains story elements (setting, characters, theme, plot, resolution). The organization is usually in chronological order consisting of paragraphs that unfold the plot. Historical fiction, realistic fiction, and fanciful fiction are examples of narrative text. When reading narrative text, have students identify the story elements. Ask students to predict what will happen and later let them confirm or revise their predictions.

Informational text is usually written in a factual writing style. The organizational structure is varied (topic/detail, cause/effect, compare/contrast). Textbooks, newspapers, Internet articles, and encyclopedias are examples of informational text. Although most teachers use narrative text, it is important that you also teach comprehension using informational text. Provide books on interesting topics (sports, animals, how-to books). When reading informational text, have students identify the main idea, visualize concepts, or summarize the text. A major portion of reading instruction should focus on the life skill of understanding informational text so students can “read to learn.”

Reading Responses

Student responses can be varied instead of always writing book reports or answering questions. To develop deeper understanding, responses should require students to refer back to the text and provide support. During-reading responses increase understanding. While students read, let them complete a concept web, answer questions, make T-notes, or participate in reciprocal reading.

After-Reading responses promote retention by allowing time for reflection and analysis. After students read, let them sequence events in words or pictures, tell three things they learned, make a character web, act out the story, write a new ending, compare/contrast on a Venn diagram, or summarize what they read.


God created your students with differing abilities. Jesus, the master teacher, is an example to all teachers. He met the specific needs of people by using variety in grouping; He taught large groups, small groups, and individuals. Jesus used variety of instructional strategies as He taught with examples, illustrations, miracles, and questions. Reading instruction at the elementary level should prepare students for lifelong reading. Doing the same thing every day for six years does little to excite students about reading class. Add variety by using different types of text while teaching the whole class a couple of days and teaching in groups several days during the week. At least once every quarter, use literature circles to read a novel. Students don’t always have to do the same thing. Vary the types of reading responses with different texts and with different students reading the same text. You too can add spice to your reading instruction by adding variety.


Dr. Tammie Jacobs has been an educator for over 30 years. She currently serves as the head of the Department of Elementary Education at Bob Jones University, teaches elementary education courses, and supervises candidates during practicum and clinical practice.


Copyright Journal for Christian Educators, Winter 2014 ed. Vol. 20. No. 2.  Reprinted with permission of the American Association of Christian Schools.

The Christian School Principal

The Key to School Improvement

Leadership in our schools


Does the Christian school movement suffer from a lack of quality leadership?  The answer is YES.  The person in the position that is key to improving the Christian school movement is the Christian school principal.  It is also true that any commitment to improving Christian schooling must involve those persons at levels above that of the local Christian school.  In most cases, that would involve a commitment by the leadership of a local church and the members of a board responsible for policy making concerning the Christian school.  But it is the Christian school principal that must lead and direct the activities of the local Christian school.  The local Christian school is the site where improvement must occur.

These are the realities.  It will be the best of times in the movement if we are willing to address current conditions and apply the Word of God and the findings of the best research about the schooling of children and about the key roles of adults in carrying out the ministry of a Christian school.  It will be the best of times if we redefine the role of the Christian school principal in a way that leadership is less hierarchical, meaning that all stakeholders are involved in planning the ministry of a local Christian school.  It will be the worst of times if the role of a local Christian school principal continues to be defined as that of a manager, with authority based upon position.  It will be the worst of times if we continue to be satisfied with current realities, especially assigning people to work in leadership roles who have little if any preparation for that role.

Why should we give renewed attention to the role of the Christian school principal?  Because the local school is the place where improvement will or will not occur.  That is where the pedal hits the metal.  That is where students learn or fail to learn.  The persons in the role of local school principal must be prepared to lead any effort to bring new life to the movement.

Think about it…

Let me pose a number of questions for you and offer a challenge for those reading this blog to respond in writing to the issues raised.

  1. Are the Christian school principals presently serving in the movement prepared I to lead an effort to bring about significant school improvement?
  1. Do current preparation programs for principals give adequate attention to the spiritual and cultural nature of a local Christian school ministry and ways to bring about change within that cultural system?
  1. Can principals presently serving in local Christian schools be trained “on site” to lead cultural change in the Christian schools of this nation?
  1. What are the greatest challenges to bringing about significant improvement in the movement?

The future of the Christian school movement depends upon what Christian school principals understand about the culture of the school that he/she leads and the plans made to address the needs of the students that are enrolled.

Religion and Education

Religion is inherently educational, and education is inherently religious.


Photo Source: Wikipedia

In order to survive and flourish, all religions demand an educational component.  This is true of false religions as well as of Christianity.  Religion is inherently educational.

Militant Muslims

Muslims train and teach their children to become accustomed, willing, and in fact eager to commit the most barbaric acts imaginable to please Allah.  They plan to eliminate all other religions and create a global caliphate.  They intend to begin this themselves and for their children to complete the task.

Judaism and Christianity

Judaism and Christianity are thoroughly educational. Our Lord Jesus could have chosen to come to earth as a scribe, a Pharisee, a tax collector, a farmer, a shepherd, or some other kind of professional or manual laborer.  His choice was to be known as “a teacher come from God”, often called “Rabbi.”

The last words He spoke to us were “Go . . . teach all things”.  This is not “the great suggestion”: it is the great commission.  2 Timothy 2:2 describes this as a process: “the things that thou has heard of me . . . the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  Paul teaches Timothy, Timothy teaches faithful men, faithful men teach other faithful men, and so on until a faithful link in the chain teaches us.

All Education Systems

Just as important, but much more subtle, all education is inherently religious.  In other words, we educate for a reason.  We educate children in order to perpetuate our worldview, our culture, our religion.

We observe this in literature: every novel, short story, and poem is written with an educational purpose.  That’s why literature is so powerful, for good or for evil.  Art for art’s sake does not exist.

When Nathan had to confront David regarding his great sin, he was putting his life in danger.  He disarmed David by telling him a short story that stirred his righteous indignation.  The king determined the appropriate response, painting himself into a very small corner.

The process simplified is that literature disarms, engages, and persuades.  Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan precisely for this reason with the same outcome.  He often used parables in this way.

Insightful, alert English teachers play a critical role in Christian education.   How valuable they are!

Education may not appear to be religious and may even insist that it is thoroughly secular.  Me thinks they do protest too much.  Secular humanism is, of course, a religion.

Be not deceived:  Religion is inherently educational, and education is inherently religious.

The Selfie Syndrome

Combating Self-Absorption

In our vision statement for ministry, what is the trait that we most desire for our students?  The nebulous answer is success.  But pulling back the veneer, what do we really want?  Contrast that envisioned goal with what we see happening all around us.  True!  It is not just in students.  It is rampant in all sectors of our culture.

Using a selfie stick

Photo Source: Wikipedia

What is it, you ask?  The Selfie Syndrome!  That is the term used by Michelle Borba in a recent article in Time magazine.  She noted that the “rise of social media, as well as changes in our culture and parenting styles” had produced a generation of self-absorbed youth.  She offered some alarming statistics:

  • Narcissism rates up 58% compared to three decades ago
  • 20% of middle school students contemplate suicide as a solution to being bullied
  • Nearly 3 out of 4 college students admit cheating in class
  • One-third of college students report being depressed to the point of “having trouble functioning”

Probably safe to say this not what was envisioned a generation back.  So what can we as Christian educators do to cast a better vision for our students?  Here are several thoughts to get us started:

  • Model a life of Serving Others – Jesus came to earth as a prophet, priest, and king; however, his greatest example to us is that of a Before he completed His mission at Calvary, he washed feet.  (John 13; Philippians 2:5-8).   Let students see you serving fellow teachers by providing a meal in times of illness, praying with and for parents, and assisting students even when you are not required to do so.
  • Seek Empathy opportunities – While we should show sympathy to our students, we seek opportunities to be empathetic. Empathy begins in the classroom—guide students to understand personal needs of classmates; show students ways to be loving and kind to those that are different than them.  Help students to “walk the mile” in the shoes of others.  Guide students to give time and/or money to relief efforts.  Seek local service opportunities to assist elderly, work in homeless shelters or rescue missions, etc.
  • Focus on Self-Sacrifice not Self-Esteem – In a culture that bombards leaders with the need to teach self-esteem, do not lose sight of the truth that success is when self-sacrifice guides one’s life. Jesus reminded His disciples that to be His follower one must deny self rather than be consumed by self-interest.  It is interesting that in our world given to building self-esteem that suicide rates are on the rise.  Rarely do students need help building an esteemed self.
  • Honor those that Sacrifice – Our first thoughts may go to our military members or first responders. While these are worthy examples, the news is full of examples of those that “esteem others better than themselves.”  What about a person who donates an organ to family, friend, or total stranger?  It may be someone who sacrifices money or possessions for storm victims, the poor, or a missionary or mission project.  Remember, you will get what you honor.
  • An Others Project – Choose a year-long or short-term school or class project that allows teachers and students to see, understand, empathize, and sacrificially invest in others. Promote the opportunity to the students.  Let students offer ways that they can be used to meet the needs of others.  Facilitate opportunities for students to have an actionable part in helping.  Money does not solve all problems and it is often too easy to give money and then return focus to self.

Part of an effective teacher’s vision is that students learn to live for something greater than self.  As our culture caters to the desires of self, let’s be intentional about showing and teaching our students that the end of life lived with Selfie Syndrome is not success, rather disappointment, depression, and destruction.


The bored Awakens

Do your students always seem to be gazing into the solar system? For learning to be at its best, students must be engaged 100% of the time.


Photo Source: Wikipedia

Are your students busy or engaged? Remember, whoever is doing the most work is doing the most learning. Get your students engaged. Student engagement is defined as “students’ cognitive investment in, active participation in, and emotional commitment to their learning” (Zepke & Leach, 2010, pg. 168).

According to Marzano and Pickering, (2011), student engagement encompasses the following four areas:

  • Emotions: “How do I feel about this assignment?”
  • Interest: “Does this assignment capture my interest?”
  • Perceived Importance: “Will I really need to know this?”
  • Perceptions of efficacy: “Can I do this?”

Students must answer “yes” to these four questions for them to want to be involved in the learning activity. The better a teacher knows his students, the better she/he can design an assignment that meets the needs of these four criteria.

Schlecty (1994) gave three characteristics of engaged students. Teachers need to observe their classrooms for students who

  • are attracted to their work.
  • persist in their work despite challenges.
  • take visible delight in their work.

Children almost always portray these characteristics when playing video games, playing with Legos, or playing sports. The same needs to be true regarding academics. How much engagement occurs by watching, listening, note taking, copying, highlighting, discussing, dissecting, or building? Choose activities that are engaging! “High levels of active engagement during lessons are associated with higher levels of achievement and student motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000)”.

There are four essential goals for engaged children:

  • Success (the need for mastery)
  • Curiosity (the need for understanding)
  • Originality (the need for self-expression)
  • Relationships (the need for involvement with others) (Strong, Silver & Robinson, 1995)

Engaged students will experience these goals within the classroom on a daily basis. Teachers need to think of creative ways to keep learners engaged by tuning in to their interest.

“Psychologically, engaged learners are intrinsically motivated by curiosity, interest, and enjoyment, and are likely to want to achieve their own intellectual or personal goals. The engaged child demonstrates the behaviors of concentration, investment, enthusiasm, and effort. Because children with low levels of engagement are at risk for disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and eventually dropping out of school, the need to increase engagement is critical to children’s success in school.” (Jablon & Wilkinson, 2006)

Real learning is not a spectator sport! Create a climate of engagement that draws student attention and promotes learning.


Jablon, S. & Wilkinson, M. (2006, March). Using Engagement Strategies to Facilitate Children’s Learning & Success. Young children on the Web.

Marzano, R. & Pickering, D. (2011). The Highly Engaged Classroom. Marzano Research.

Ryan, R. & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25, 54–67

Schlecty, P. (1994). Schlecty Center on Engagement.

Strong, R., Silver, H., & Robinson, A. (1995). Strengthening Student Engagement: What Do Students Want (and what really motivates them)? Educational Leadership, 53, 1,  8-12

Zepke, N. & Leach, L. (2010), Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Education. 11(3):167-177

What Do You Want Your Students To Love?

Prioritize Your List

“What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?” James K.A. SmithBasic RGB

Photo Source: Wikipedia

It’s August and the first days of school are upon us!  It’s time to plan lessons and prepare schedules.  It’s time to craft tests and make lists of topics we want to cover. It’s time to get out the curriculum guide and review all that we need to teach our students this year.

It’s also time to pause:  pause to reflect on what it is we are really doing.  It’s time to ask ourselves the question posed by James K.A. Smith:  “What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?”

What if . . .

. . . loving virtue were more important than memorizing facts?

. . . loving others were more important than excelling at a sport?

. . . loving beauty were more important than finishing everything?

. . . loving truth were more important than being right?

. . . loving learning were more important than making a good grade?

. . . loving God were more important than getting into a good college?

What if?

Would we still have our students memorize facts?  Of course.  Push them to excel?  Absolutely?  Encourage them to finish well?  Think rightly?  Make good grades?  Pursue college? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

But, I wonder, what would happen if we started our yearly plans with a list of what we want our students to love and then made our list of what we want them to know?

Would our schedules, plans, lessons look different?  I think so, even for seasoned Christian educators.  I know they do for me.  I am thankful to be able to walk by a large banner of this quote every day in the lobby of my school.  What a poignant reminder that our real purpose is not to fill minds.  Rather, it is to train affections.

How would you answer this “What If?” question?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(If you are interested in pondering this topic more, you may enjoy James K. A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom, C.S. Lewis’s Weight of Glory, or Richard Riesen’s Piety and Philosophy).

Five Rules for “Fitly Spoken” Words in the Classroom

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11


Photo Source: Wikipedia

Even this early in the school year, there is need for teachers to speak with directness to students. Clarity and straightforward communication is both necessary in an effective teacher -student relationship. However, teachers must develop a skilful communication style that gets to the point without being harsh.  There is no place for a brash, in-your-face communicative style in the classroom.

In a digital culture embolden to speak without appropriate restraint because one can hide behind a veil of social media, teachers must guard against adopting a harsh or brash communicative style with students. The wisest of all men warned us to make our words “fitly spoken.”

Here are five rules that should guide teacher communication with students.

Do not “provoke to anger.  Just as parents are warned to train their children without provoking them to anger, teachers who labor en loco parentis should be careful not to provoke with words. Even though many students submit to harsh words spoken by a teacher, bitterness can take root in the heart of the student and spring up into an angry spirit.

Avoid sarcasm.  Teachers must not give in to the temptation of “making a point” by spewing sarcastic remarks. I confess that I have had to make concerted effort in this area. Why? Because I have observed first-hand that sarcasm (literal meaning is to “rip or tear flesh”) does not edify but destroys the heart of a student. Often our sarcastic words are a means of venting our frustration and anger.  Students do not respond well to being “ripped.”

Watch your Tone.   While the primary definition of tone refers to the quality, pitch, and strength of vocal sounds, the meaning of the word also refers to the “general character and attitude” of our spoken words. I recently reviewed some research that found that as much as 38% of our communication was done via the tone of our voice. It is not always what we say but how we say it. Listen to yourself!  Better yet, ask a cohort to listen to your tone. Are you communicating in a pleasant tone or one that grates on students. Proverbs 12:18 says “there is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise is health.”

Use gestures.  Sometimes a teacher can better communicate by a gesture than words. Very often a combination of gestures and words will prove more effective than just words. For example, teachers can point, use other hand signals (necessitates students making eye contact with the teacher), and perhaps use a nod of the head to communicate clearly and without harshness. I heard it said that “when all other means of communication fail, try words.”

Speak in love.  We are to speak truthfully with students; however, that is only part of our responsibility. Paul reminds us that truth is to be spoken in love. While it is easy to soothe our hearts by recounting our truthfulness and straightforward speech to students, our communication is never to be without love. What is love?  Love is “doing right by the cherished object.” (Romans 13:10)  As teachers, we must allow a genuine heart of love to control our speech.  Remember, perception is reality!  Students should hear love in our words, even those that are spoken correct.

These are just a few of the rules that should guide our speech as educators.  We must ask ourselves (and others) if our words are being “fitly spoken?”  Dare to ask others to help you evaluate your communication with students.  Record yourself.  Be honest with yourself.  Accept suggestions and honest criticism from others.

Do you  have other suggested rules that you use to guide your classroom speech?  What not take a minute and share with us.  Perhaps this list of five will grow to ten.  Make it your prayer that you would never offend students through your speech!

Death Education

Are your students prepared for a tragedy?

Death Education

As we begin a new school year, our buildings are teeming with energy and excitement.  There is an edge that comes with a re-start—both for teachers and students.  Some teachers are embarking on their inaugural school year as a teacher.  Students have enjoyed a summer with activity and diversion; however, most are ready to get back to the routine of socialization, education, and extra-curricular enjoyments.

But what happens when this excitement is punctuated by a tragedy?  What are you doing as a teacher to prepare students for the unexpected?  What are you doing to prepare students for the inevitable?  Do you actively provide curricular initiatives in Death Education?

graveyard Picture

Photo Source: Wikipedia

While I am sure that few have teaching units in Death Education, we should intentionally teach students to understand, deal with, and prepare for death.  It is still true: “No one is prepared to live until he is prepared to die.”  As educators, we must not only help our students prepare for death, but we must also prepare them for those times that death strikes uncomfortably close to us.

This past school year during graduation week, a student in a school that I serve, died in a boating accident.  The impact on a family, a peer group, a school, and a greater community was shocking.  While we know that these things can happen, as educators we are often caught off guard.

The educational process should include instruction in Death Education.  Of course, protocols for this teaching will be different based on age and grade levels.  But educators should integrate truths about death into students’ learning experiences.  Ruth Haycock’s Encyclopedia of Bible Truths for School Subjects suggests appropriate concepts to include into a curriculum.

Some obvious biblical concepts that should be taught—

  • Spiritual vs. Physical Death
  • Causes of Death
  • Nature of Physical Death
  • Life after Death
  • God’s Power over Death
  • The Body after Death
  • Post Resurrection Events
  • Believer’s Attitude Towards Life and Death

Death Education should not be taboo in our classrooms; rather, teachers should intentionally integrate truth about death into curriculum.  Prayerfully, your students and your school community will be spared from personal tragedy this year; however, as teachers we must be proactive in preparing students to face death.

Only when students understand and are prepared to deal with death can they be fully prepared to for life.

What are some suggestions that you can share about how to implement death education into the teaching process?