Krisann Durnford, field editor for Word Aflame curriculum, offers encouraging words for teachers.
Teachers have splendid opportunities to encourage others. Humans are hard-wired to please those we follow and from whom we learn. Students hope for a mentor’s approval. That approval encourages us to stretch, to gain knowledge, and to grow. Consider three ways to be an encourager:
- Compliment students on their smile, a kind action they performed, or an interaction in class. Focus encouragement on things students can control (words, actions) rather than those they cannot (environment, their clothing).
- Use uplifting words in class. “I am so happy you learned that verse.” “Thank you for doing your best on the activity paper.” “It is exciting to hear you pray out loud to Jesus.”
- Help students when circumstances seem discouraging. Not every class moment is enjoyable. Some require teachers to enforce rules. When this occurs, encourage good behavior. “Benji, I know you can use your hands for good things because I saw you help your little brother last week. Let’s use our hands to help instead of hit.”
From Me to Teechr
The cute face looked at me eagerly while I opened the envelope. I knew my reaction could make or break the moment. As the hand-drawn picture slid from its covering, I knelt next to the small figure.
“It’s beautiful! Did you make this just for me?”
A shy nod. A hand shoved into a pocket. An almost inaudible, “Yes.”
After my acknowledgement, he ran happily across the room to join the others. I turned my attention to the gift and studied it. Wobbly lines and scribbled shapes ran across the page. Along its border was a heartfelt label written in kid scrawl, “From Me to Teechr.” I smiled, carefully folded the paper, and placed it in my purse.
That encounter brought happiness to both of us. It encouraged me that I was making a difference. It encouraged him because he felt important and his actions worthwhile.
Inspirational speakers, blogs, and books expound on the topic—encouraging us to offer encouragement. But do we realize the importance of an encouraging word or action? Encouragement is found in the love and affection of true relationships.Encouragement is found in the love and affection of true relationships. Click To Tweet
Encouragement always includes the label, “From: Me To: ___.” It always includes some type of giving. Perhaps we offer affirmative words or acts of service. Perhaps we give our time and a listening ear. Encouragement is a like a two-way street. It requires both directions–giving and receiving.
That little guy’s effort to label his gift required vulnerability and faith. He believed his offering would be accepted by “teechr.”
It encouraged me that I was making a difference. It encouraged him because he felt important and his actions worthwhile.
What he lacked in spelling capabilities, he made up for in determination. Something caused him to attempt a new word–even if he did not know its spelling. He was motivated despite possible rejection or correction to his effort. What caused that? I believe it was the encouragement he experienced in previous encounters.
These simple examples will create an atmosphere where encouragement flourishes. Students take cues from their teacher’s actions. The more encouraging words are used, the more encouragement will happen.
Resources and Links
Backyard Bible Stories with Crash McDash (Check out our new downloadable Sunday school classes.)