What would it take for you to look forward to Mondays?
For me, it is one of my favorite days of the week. Strange, I know.
But this is why I love teaching—I get to create whatever reality I want within the four walls of my classroom. I have my objectives written out and then it’s up to me to find fun ways to communicate and teach them.
I often think of it like this: if I’m not looking forward to what we are going to be doing on Monday, how much more must my students be dreading it? I work hard to implement lessons and strategies that make me look forward to work, knowing that many times, this will create an atmosphere that students enjoy being in (though, how uncool would it be to admit you like school as an 11-year-old?!).
One example is our weekly “exhortation cards” in class. Solomon wrote that life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and I could not agree more. What we say has power. Our words convey thought and have the power to shape culture and change lives. Every week, my students are assigned a random person in the class and are tasked with writing an encouraging and uplifting hand-written note to them right then. They can offer a prayer for the person, recount a memory with them, or encourage them in who they are or their character.
Rather than only offering students a lecture on loving our neighbor or showing another PowerPoint on what “love” and “neighbor” means in the Greek, I try to get them engaged and involved in doing what the Word of God says.
And the real beauty is that I am not alone. I work alongside a staff that puts in this same (if not more) effort and love into their classes to make them engaging and informative. The culture I try to create in my class is really just a replica of what I receive from the staff around me every day. It is not unusual for another teacher to pop their head in my room just to say hi or to get a random text from a co-worker in the evening asking how life is going. I simply try to teach my class how to act in a way that I have seen this amazing staff act towards me.
I will leave you with this thought: if you are not looking forward to your Mondays, what can you do to change it? Whose office can you pop your head into to offer a quick hello or small encouragement? Who can you build up? Who can you write a quick exhortation card to today? Doing these small things may just create a culture that you and your co-workers look forward to being in (even on a Monday!).
This is my motivation for creating a lively and fun classroom atmosphere. This is why if you were to stick your head in my room on a random day you might see the Bible being taught in unorthodox ways. One example that often surprises people to hear is that we do not have weekly memory verses in my class. Now before you label me a heretic, there is a very calculated and specific reason (like most unusual things I do) for this.
I found that by middle school, students who had to do weekly memory verses often memorized it just enough for the test on Friday and then forgot it. Seeing this, I worked to figure out how to get a verse to root in their heart. One of the ways I do this is through a Socratic Seminar.
Rather than repeat a verse over and over again (which is great for memorization), I sit my students in a circle and share a verse. Then I will ask my students how they would implement it into their life. As the class engages in a 20 or 30-minute discussion, they not only hear the verse and its meaning multiple times, they also build a connection with the words of Scripture to the real world. And often times, they remember the verse longer than if I had given a pop quiz on it, and they enjoyed the activity because they got to talk rather than stress about an exam.
It is things like that which keep me excited and coming back to class with energy and vigor day after day.
Mr. Fujishin has been a Bible teacher at Baymonte Christian School for three years, to see his full bio visit our school website here. He is also the founder of STAR Conversations, an online course in conversation and connection.