But how can teachers practice Biblical affirmation in a classroom full of sinful children? When the papers are swirling and the schedule is full?
Practice. Practice. Practice.
My piano teacher used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Practice implies something that we’re not good at that we need to improve. That applies to affirming our students as much as it does to piano lessons.
Teachers are wired for correction. Most of us have been practicing correction for years. Red pen in hand, we are armed to correct our students into good form, proper behavior, and academic success.
Thus, affirmation does not come naturally. We may know how to encourage our students, but affirming them Biblically is not usually our practice.
In order to affirm the work of Christ in our students, we must practice . . .
. . . knowing Christ. Not just knowing about Him. Knowing Him – intimately. In order for our
students to remind us of Christ, we have to know Christ. This requires us to feed ourselves
spiritually on a regular basis.
. . . knowing our students. We have to sit and talk with our students, break down barriers, get
past some of the facades of immaturity and insecurity. We have to spend time with them.
. . . prioritizing affirmation. It needs to be more important to affirm our students than it is to
correct them. Make a checklist. Use sticky notes. Mark it at the top of your lesson plans.
. . . intentionality. In order for affirmation to be a pattern in our classrooms, we must
be intentional about it. It will take work and probably won’t feel comfortable at first.
Create a repertoire of affirmations that you can tweak until it becomes more natural to
think in “affirmation mode.”
. . . prayer. The key to authentic Biblical affirmation is prayer. Ask the Lord to reveal opportunities
to see His working in your students. Choose one student a day to pray for and to affirm.
Let the Holy Spirit lead you.
Is your classroom characterized by a culture of God-glorifying affirmation? Do you practice affirmation? Practice does, indeed, make permanent!
For further reading: Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree ISBN 978-1-4335-2243-7