Teachers are beauty creators. Creating beauty can mean decorating a room or painting a picture, but it can also mean resolving conflicts so there may be beautiful and harmonious fellowship again. Creating beauty can also mean leading others to become beauty creators by exemplifying what it means to create beauty. God is the original beauty creator. When He created the earth, He was full of love, peace, and joy about what He was doing. As Christian teachers we are united with God and are able to teach with His characteristics. Being beauty creators means bringing love, joy and peace into our classrooms.
If you totally love the subject you teach and your most fulfilling moment is seeing students joyfully adapt what you showed them, then you have created something very beautiful. You created not only a beautiful moment for yourself and the student, but also another beauty creator who will likely share what he has just learned. We share beauty, not because we are forced to, but because it is a pure pleasure. Therefore, the goal of teaching should be to create beauty; this is a role that goes beyond a set of rules or a list of words or calculations. What, then, are some ways to become a beauty creator in the midst of everyday pressures and tight schedules at school?
Creating beauty does not need to be a complicated process. In fact, sometimes bringing beauty comes from simplifying your teaching life. First, choosing to focus on simpler preparations for class allows you time to care for God, for friends and fellowship, for caring for yourself by eating well, exercising and sleeping enough. Pursuing beauty means setting proper priorities. Second, a simpler method can also help you focus more on the kids and on what is happening in the classroom than to be caught up in organising your methods. This strengthens the relationships that God has given us.
Today I taught my first grade students about animal teeth. I found a nice slide show online with animals having speech bubbles telling something about their teeth. My first idea was to colour-copy the animals, cut out the speech bubbles, and laminate all of it. It would have been best to make copies for each group of students. I thought about the effort it would take to prepare all of this and about the many other things that still had to be done on that day. Then I came up with an idea, which turned out to be just great: instead of making copies, I showed the slide show to the students reading to them the speech bubbles. I made a quiz with four groups asking questions about what I had been reading to them. They just loved it and were engaged. I was able to stand in the front, free to focus on the kids, not being distracted by methodological details. The question I had to ask myself was: “Does the method lead to the goals of my lesson or am I getting caught up in unnecessary preparation?”
In the end, being a beauty creator in the classroom is all about love and relationship. Spending time with God is especially important because He is the source of relationship: the source of all peace, joy, love, and patience. These characteristics are so essential in a classroom setting as are living a balanced life, in harmony with yourself, with Him, and others. Recognising your limits and setting boundaries for yourself will allow you to be freer to love your students and create something beautiful in them which they will want to copy. If then, what you love about what you teach connects with the students themselves, you have been successful and you truly created some more beauty in this world.
Let me finish with a quote: The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The greatest teacher inspires (William Arthur Ward). If you want to be a teacher who inspires, my suggestion is to find ways that can simplify your teaching and find ways to be inspired so you don’t run out of energy but keep on being an inspiring teacher creating beauty wherever you go.
Freie Evangelische Schule Lörrach, Germany
Photo Credits: The Whole World. B.Hunsberger 2017.
Sonja Seidel is a religion and English teacher at Freie Evangelische Schule Lörrach, a Christian private school in South Germany. She has taught at the gymnasium level (where students get their A-levels) before moving down to the primary school level where she is really enjoying working with younger students. Prior to teaching, Sonja studied theology and English.