It’s been four years since I was a full time teacher.
And when I reflect, my first thoughts aren’t of mountainous paperwork, ever-changing standardized tests, or the ghastly grade cards.
It was the excitement I felt as the kids walked through the door in the mornings. It was those smelly little rascals after a recess in the blazing, September sun. The stories they told from their weekends. The hugs before break. Their shock when I actually played four-square with them in my heels.
I adored my students. They were a mini flock, entrusted to my care for 9 months. I was protective and curious and longed for them to succeed in every area of life.
But I quickly learned that teaching a group of diverse students wasn’t easy.
At some point, I learned about different intelligences. It changed the way I approached my flock. I realized that some students needed to sing, others needed movement, and still others needed to just interact with their peers to best engage learning.
In other words, they were not the same! Their personality, birth order, family situation, and life choices were factors in how they interacted with information.
Jesus, The Teacher
This idea of adaptive teaching, differentiation, seems to appear in the story of Jesus. He told parables, drew in the sand, talked to people carefully based on their situation in life, and sometimes answered questions with more questions!
He was an engaging teacher. Even those who don’t claim Christianity observe his effectiveness in transforming people by even just one interaction.
Jesus differentiated his approach to each person or group he encountered, but the core content remained the same.
So let’s flip this puppy around. Jesus is MY teacher. What does he see? How does he approach me?
Step one: Identify my core desires, especially for this Lenten season.
I want my faith to increase.
I want to experience God and His love the for the world.
I want my norms and preconceived ideals to be challenged.
I want roots of faith to go deeper, but branches of love to reach wider.
Yay! Now, how? Two teacher-y ways, of course.
Depth and Dimension
I want to explore Jesus’ encounters with people and see where it leads.
Think Bloom’s Taxonomy. This pyramid suggests that to truly retain information, it needs to be interacted with at a higher level than merely repetition and simple recall. In other words – ideas, scriptures, themes, need to be dealt with in a variety of ways. Analyze, consult reputable scholars, use in new forms, rewrite, etc.
I also want to interact with the themes of people who have an interaction with Jesus through the multiple intelligences. Even though I’m a fairly linguistic learner, what can be gained by exploring nature, movement, and songs?
Perhaps a new dimension of experiential learning will unfold that’s out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it will increase my awareness, understanding, and tolerance of the world around me.
In essence, my hope is to encounter Jesus, just as the people in the stories, in deep and multi-dimensional ways.
Maybe God exists in ways I have yet to understand or words to describe.
Maybe there are ways to seek, experience, and understand God and his love in dimensions that are just untapped. By me. As a church. As a world.
AND MAYBE I will reach out, see, hear, feel, and sense God in incredible new ways!
And so, I challenge Solomon to say there ARE new things under the sun. There are cultural, personal, and developmental nuances that have the potential to enlighten the vision of truth and goodness. There are new ways to experience the same old thing.
Let’s do this.