Thursday, January 31, 2013

Self-control in the Classroom

The 16-9 Movement is dedicated to educators in the public schools who understand (or are learning) their high calling. Teaching is the only profession in the world whose job is to change the human brain every day (Dr. David Sousa at FETC 2013) That’s a huge charge! When you are a Christian educator, you have an even more profound call to cherish the minds of those under your charge as children of God. The idea of the 16-9 Movement is to encourage all educators to learn the first 16 words of the First Amendment which teaches us that when we are “Congress” (an employee of the state) we can neither encourage nor discourage religion. As a Christian serving in the public schools we are under authority and are law abiding. We also need to grow in the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, patience and self-control. In previous posts, I have related each of these attributes to the classroom or school setting.  Today we will look at self-control.

            Self-control, to me, is an oxymoron. Can we really control ourselves? Without the help of the Holy Spirit, unequivocally – no! However, with the gracious goodness of our God, we can learn to ask for His quick conviction. As long as we are human, we will sin, but as a Christian we must repent and change immediately. Self-control in the classroom covers our mistakes, our foolish comments that we never meant to say and the areas we need to overcome.  Our students should not be the recipients of our issues. We must make a conscious effort to present ourselves as an educator of excellence for their sake.

            In, self-control is defined as: self-con·trol [self-kuhn-trohl, self-]
noun, control or restraint of oneself or one's actions, feelings, etc. In the classroom, self-control encompasses every fruit of the Spirit, every emotions and feeling, and everything we do. Being in control of oneself, is being on time, being an example of faithfulness to our students and colleagues, using words that are kind and good and being aware of our influence. All teachers are change agents, but not all change is positive influence. With God’s help and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, Christian educators can walk out their high calling with grace and confidence while always being lawful.  Some probing questions that may help with self-control in the classroom are:

  •  Am I leaving my personal issues at home?
  •  Am I bringing my A game to the students (or co-workers) each day?
  • Am I choosing my words wisely?
  • Am I praying before the day begins for a double-portion of wisdom for that day?
  • Am I longing to be a better ambassador for Christ so that my student benefit from having a Christian as their teacher?

            There is nothing simple about being a Christian in the public schools, but this career is the greatest gift that God has given us. Who wouldn’t want their child to have a teacher, paraprofessional or administrator who is practicing the Fruit of the Spirit in the school environment?  We can all benefit from professionals using self-control and Christian educators shining their light through their walk each day.  May God grant you the wisdom and blessing of practicing self-control in the classroom.

Prayerfully dependent,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Christian Educators Association International is the only professional association in the United States specifically for Christian educators in public schools.  CEAI protects our members first in prayer,  next with excellent professional liability insurance and other benefits while helping them live out their high calling as a Christian in the public school.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

CIPE Community EXPO

On Saturday, January 28th, I had the privilege to work with the CIPE team in a unique informational format.  CIPE, Christians in Public Education, is a dedicated group of administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals who understand their high calling and desire to be legal and graceful servants in the public school.  The CIPE planning team designed a community informational session that was fast-paced, inspirational and left everyone with the feeling of the need to serve more. The purpose of the EXPO was to bring community groups together who are already serving in the public schools in some capacity and give them a limited time frame (8 min.) to tell about their organization and how it affects the school community.  The format was really fun because each group’s leaders were put on a literal timer and had the task to tell about their passion in only 8 minutes.  After two ministry leaders spoke, we then played a Bingo style game called, “Find Your Christian Brothers and Sisters.” Each of the squares contained a description like: attends a local church, teaches in a high school, reads the Bible everyday and more. Everyone got up out of their seats and sought to find a match to as many squares as possible. The participants were on a timer too!  After two minutes, the next two speakers were introduced.  The Bingo game continued two more times and some of the participants managed to get their whole card completed.

Community groups that shared their group’s vision and purpose included: Mission Interact, FCA – Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Young Life, Kids Care, Young Men of Excellence, Good News Clubs and Christian Educators Assoc. Int. (CEAI). The beauty of this timed format is that it gave dignity to the speakers and listeners by honoring their time. It is much more difficult to condense your passion than to ramble on as long as you like. Each of the passionate leaders were able to squeeze their group’s message into the time limit and all the participants were interested, inspired and curious to know more.  The event was also interspersed with song and prayer because when Christians get together they sing and give thanks.

On a personal note, I walked away with a profound statement by one of the students in Mission Interact.  A question was raised about how can we find out who are Christian educators are. In today’s school community, so many Christians are afraid to say anything because they are not sure what they can or cannot say. Unfortunately, instead of finding out, they say nothing. One of the students suggested that they find them! They said it is much easier for them to know who the Christians are because they have more freedoms.  Students can express their faith in schools at any time as long as they are not interrupting instructional times.  Students in these wonderful groups like Young Life, Good News Clubs, Mission Interact, FCA and more can be the eyes and ears of CIPE and CEAI as we seek to encourage, equip and empower administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals in our public schools to be legal and graceful servants.  What school wouldn’t want law abiding, graceful teachers? CIPE and CEAI seek first to help teachers depend on God through prayer and community of other believers and then to walk out their faith legally and beautifully for His Name sake.

Kudos to the CIPE team for bringing a heighten awareness of the need for Christians to serve in our public schools.

Prayerfully dependent,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goodness in the Classroom

Have you ever had a slow start? This first post for the 16-9 blog in 2013 is starting off slow, but not without a constant love for Christian educators in the classroom. Have you had a slow start? Have you had good intentions to start the new year with resolutions or new goals?  If you jumped right out the gate full force, that’s incredible. If not, it’s never too late.  The 16-9 Movement blog was birthed this time last year to encourage, equip and empower educators to understand the first “16” words of the Constitution and to apply the “9” Fruit of the Spirit in the classroom. As I looked back on the blog entries from 2012, I realized that I had not written about goodness nor self-control.  I certainly did not feel qualified to write about self-control this morning since I was a bit negligent with this blog, so instead I begin 2013 with thoughts on goodness in the classroom.
As I looked upon the word goodness in the Bible, I was surprised to find only 19 times that the word was mentioned. Naturally, the majority of the time the reference was to God’s goodness. Do you ever stop to think about His goodness? It’s overwhelming. Everything that is good comes from our Lord. The ability to be a teacher is because of His goodness. The desire to become better teachers comes from His goodness.  How can we display goodness to our students? This is not as simple as it appears on the surface. We are not naturally good as He is, but we are his ambassadors in our walk and to represent Him well in our classrooms daily, we must strive to be good to our students. As public school educators (teachers, paraprofessionals or administrators), we have the power to influence our students daily. Making a concerted effort to be good to them can change the whole focus of our classroom.

Let’s look at the goodness of God in the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,

He leads me besides the still waters,
He restores my soul.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me

All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


Purposeful goodness in the classroom involves a secure environment for our students where they have a sense that we would do anything in our power to help them learn. Our goodness to our students cannot be compared to His goodness for all His children, but stands as our guide. Can we create a classroom environment that is like still waters or green pastures that is refreshing to the souls of our children? It’s a high goal, but no learning will take place until they feel secure in our rooms.  Walking through dark valleys is often a way of life for our students, unfortunately. Can you imagine if your classroom is the safest place all day? Being purposefully good to students, especially when they don’t deserve it, is a gift from our good God. I encourage you to read the 23rd Psalm out loud to yourself. Afterward, read it silently and look at each stanza in the light of how to display goodness in the classroom. It’s pretty humbling. 

Our good God has placed us in the schools of America. We are the ones who can display His fruit and be good to our children.  Alistair Begg often says an old Anglican prayer that I would like to pass onto you today.

Lord, what we know not, teach us; what we have not, give us; and what we are not, make us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Prayerfully dependent,

Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.