Dee Farrell

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    Stir Up the Gift of Teaching

     

    There were a few more leaves fallen on my on my lawn this morning, yellow, crisp and scattered among green walnuts. It is that time again. Time for school.

    Teachers are organizing their gathered tips, training and materials for their classrooms with expectation and fresh energy. Teachers are never done learning and polishing their craft to benefit as many students as possible. With this in mind, I want to encourage you that as Christian teachers, and this includes homeschool moms, you have another resource at hand: God’s gifting.

    You are a teacher not because a piece of paper says so. You are a teacher because God has given you the gift of teaching. And this gift will enable your success.

    In Ephesians 4, Paul is reminding Christians to live a life worthy of their calling.  It is a calling we have received. “...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (NIV) In the next two verses, we are told how to walk this out in day to day terms. We are told that in God there is unity. But “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” The Living Bible interprets grace as special abilities. And these abilities are different.

    Paul continues by quoting a portion of Psalms 68. “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” (Ephesians 4:8) It refers to Jesus after His resurrection and his triumph over those things that had held man in bondage. Psalm 68, however, begins by quoting Numbers. It repeats Moses’ prayer when the Israelites started out and the Levites carried the ark. “Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered...” (Numbers 10:35 NIV) In the same way, the Psalmist begins and recounts God’s faithfulness and victory over His enemies. 

    Why would Paul insert this into a conversation about God handing out special abilities to His people?

    Before we answer that, consider what he says the abilities are for. They are to build the body of Christ, both by number and strength of spirit and knowledge of God. Thus, the application is outward and inward. The gifts are inter-related, running back and forth through the list, feeding and being fed by each other. Ours may not be the rock-star classification in ministry. But, it is our job to take apart and order, and bring the information in measurable steps to our charges that they may assemble the whole in their minds. It is our job to speak truth in love so that we strengthen our learners to stand in the day of buffeting winds of various philosophies that are set against God. Paul would have no Timothy if it weren’t for his mother and grandmother who taught him. (2Timothy 1:5)

    So— back to our question. What does a prayer about God scattering enemies spoken by Levites carrying the ark have to do with teaching, preaching, apostling and the rest? Why do we need to know Jesus defeated everything that could keep men captive? Because Satan doesn’t act like he lost, and sometimes we don’t act like we know he did.

    Here is what I mean. Our teaching environment can be a spiritual battleground. We struggle with a variety of roadblocks that apply pressure from the outside (family issues, distractions, etc.) or emanate from the inside (disabilities, self-image, etc.).  We try to manage these, but God wants to let us know that He is able to scatter the enemies creating these roadblocks. God is with us, not in the symbolism of the ark, the God in the box idea, but in our hearts. He is present to whisper wisdom to us, share His creativity with us and guide us to take our students where He wants them to be. We carry Him with us into the classroom, and His presence is able to permeate our classroom environment. Allow His peace to reign, in you and your teaching atmosphere.

    Remember, it is He who has gifted and enabled you to do what He has called you to do. 

    If you would like a free download of Scriptures to tuck into your lesson planner click here.

     

    Image by of Poodar Chu courtesy of StockSnapi.o

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    Mistakes Every Homeschool Mom Makes

     

     

    I know because I’ve made all of them more than once. The year is still young, but some of these problems may be beginning to show. Take heart. Good teachers always make adjustments.

     

    Adding too much outside fluff.

    This one is tricky. If you have more than one child, life is going to get complicated. But just make sure it is a profitable kind of complicated. Evaluate sports, dance, art, music and sewing lessons, clubs, groups and homeschool events in light of your child’s interests. Here is a little test I found that works. If your child is ready before you are to leave, practices without reminders and thinks ahead concerning the activity, then this activity is a keeper. But if you are constantly reminding, dragging them out the door so you won’t be late, axe it. 

    Tailoring activities to each child’s interest is really the luxury of a private education. I did not say talents because a child may be talented in an area but have no interest in it. He may be interested in something and have no quantifiable talent for it. Here is where we have the opportunity to teach discipline, faith and perseverance. Gideon was not a warrior when God called him.

    Also be attuned to when your child is ready to move on. Just because your son loved football when he was young, does not mean he wants to stick with it through his teens. Re-evaluate interest every year, and let your child be involved. Do not think of these activities as checking a box for socialization, exercising or satisfying grandparents and in-laws. There are cheaper means to do that. Your family schedule need not suffer attacks from outside influences and what is good for someone else.

    One caution. There are some activities profitable that are not appreciated in youth. For example, I would not budge on the public speaking contests for our local 4-H group. My children had to enter at least one event every year. They are now competent speakers, even if embellishing those experiences at family gatherings makes me sound like Hitler. Pick one area that you know transcends youth and stand your ground. Heil!

     

    Not reviewing enough.

    Finishing a curriculum is great. Until you find out your child has forgotten what he has “learned” three months ago. The truth is, he never learned it.

    Teaching is at best a sideline sport in a way. You can only encourage learning; you can’t make it happen. That said, it is our duty to provide enough opportunities for it to be taken in and applied. In other areas it is our duty to make sure memorization of facts is gained so higher learning can be built upon memory’s foundation.

    Review is not just a repetition of material. It gives the child a chance to grasp it anew and create associations. Re-study part of a lesson. Make a new lesson from an old one by approaching it a different way and asking different questions. Spread this out over time. This helps the mind to hold what it knows, but then add to its knowledge by use or practice and rethinking.  Also, new material should only compromise two thirds of a lesson.

    The focus must not be finishing chapters, semesters and textbooks. Learning is not like a once and done appointment. It is brought about by repeated visits. Review by reuse and rethinking is the vehicle that causes information to take hold. For this reason, don’t wait until the end of a unit to review, and don’t make reviews dull, machine-like clones of the lesson. Do encourage fresh vision and reuse of material. 


    Getting sidetracked from your goal(s).

    You do have a goal, right? Did you write it down?

    I hope that you have more than one. For more on goals click here. But to keep on track, you must re-visit the plan you charted in the beginning. It is possible that it needs to be tweaked, but true success comes through perseverance and consistency. Learning may be the responsibility of your students, but creating and maintaining that atmosphere of learning is up to you. Post your goals where you can be reminded of your duty.
     

     

    Image by Ezra Jeffrey courtesy of StockSnapi.o


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