The Teacher Is the School

by Jonas Sauder

Are you aware of your influence?

Methods, materials, and facilities: while these are important, Jonas underlines the influence of the teacher. In a talk to school leaders, he urges us to remember that teachers embody the school’s values. Learning requires more than the availability of data. As they relate to their students, teachers share a way of seeing the world, and themselves, that guides their learning and growth.

As a teacher, parent, or school leader, pause to appreciate the value of your influence.

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The teacher is the school.

Who are our teachers? Who are these people who will enflesh the school?

We can do whatever talk we want about curriculum, methods, but when the teacher shows up the teacher embodies whatever is going to happen in the school.

“The student is not superior to his teacher but everyone after he is completely trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40, AMP). This is a significant scripture to ponder regarding your teachers.

Let’s think a bit about authority versus influence. Teachers do need authority. Authority is the power to command. Influence is the power to produce an effect without apparently exerting any force—without direct exercise of command.

Students are influenced by some people. You cause an effect somehow in an intangible way. People of influence are people that—because they are who they are and do what they do, the people around them want to do what that person does. Remember learning is transformative. Nothing in the school influences students more than their teachers—for good or for bad. So as a school board you want to ask, “What are the influences of our teachers?” Here are some questions to ask.

Are the children actually developing the skills they need?

Are our children learning? If so, good. If not, why not?

Are the children learning how to learn? Are they becoming learners?

One of the huge ones is the concepts of self. What attitudes are our children developing? What patterns of thought about others? This comes up as you talk about current events and history. What attitudes are they developing about the world around them and how they look at the world? Are we the best? Are we the worst? What is important? What matters?

Being a model: Teachers have a huge influence by being a model. Two hundred boys in the large slum section of the city were surveyed. “They don’t have a chance,” concluded the analysts. Twenty-five years later one hundred eighty of these boys were contacted again. All but four were successful businessmen, lawyers, and doctors. Each one when asked how he succeeded said, “There was a teacher.”

The quality of the school will not exceed the quality of its teachers, in general.

And so, when we have a flood of information it’s more important than ever to have a teacher who incarnates the school, because life is lived in persons—not in machinery or bits and bytes—it’s people.

Thanks to the following schools for classroom footage:

  • Berea Christian School
  • Maranatha Christian School
  • Pleasant Valley Mennonite School
  • Valley View Christian School
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CASBI 2018
Publication Date: March 8, 2018
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