What I have learned as a teacher

1
Copyright 2016 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

Copyright 2016 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

When I first started teaching three years ago I shadowed three different high schools. I wanted to do research about how to teach teenagers. I listened to the teachers during the classes and watched intently at their interactions. After I accepted the job offer to teach, my principal gave me thirty minutes of instruction on how to set up a class structure. I received power points and lesson plans from mentors, and advice from many other teachers. I read books and went to classes. I reflected on my temporary experiences with teaching and my wealth of knowledge from leading retreats, but nothing could prepare a person for being in front of the classroom completely except experience.

The first time I taught it was like an out-of-body experience. I was talking to the students while I was thinking to myself, that is you teaching, don’t they know you don’t have a clue as to what you are doing right now! I was like the old-day missionaries going into another culture without truly knowing that culture, thinking I was prepared because I had done the homework and research on the teaching part of it all. I was ready to give the information to lead them to God. At the point much like the good-natured missionaries, I didn’t have a clue as to what the people listening truly needed, and what they already had.

One of the Catholic boys’ high schools that I interviewed with, before I received the job at Holy Cross, did not hire me because I did not have enough experience with teens. I thought they were ridiculous. At the interview for Holy Cross I told the principal, “I need experience to get this job but I can’t get the experience unless someone takes a chance and gives me this job.” She took a chance on me and experience has taught me well.

My ministry is not about what I know; it is about listening to the hearts of others. It is about walking in their shoes, understanding their lives, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me, making the faith relevant to their lives, and living the example of a Christ centered life, and not being embarrassed to show it, not flaunt it but show it. There was one person who I shadowed before I started teaching who told me something I thought was completely senseless when it comes to teaching. She said “the most important advice I can give you is to love them; simply love your students.” I thought she was crazy: my plan was to teach, not to love.

Three years later I can tell you she had the best advice ever. I have to love my students exactly where they are, accept them for who they are, respect their culture, ideas, dreams, and emotions. I have to guide them gently to God, through meditation, open discussion, and taking all the questions they have and validating them. I have to live within their culture as a mentor, trusted adult, and teacher to bring them to a deeper faith in God, recognizing that God has always been there even if they didn’t know it already.

We are not the ones who will bring God to these people. We are the ones who are to love these people and to let the Holy Spirit work through us in whatever way God deems best. The most important part is to know, respect, and love them; that is the only way for me to minister and to teach.

Copyright 2016 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

Share.

About Author

Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp is first and foremost a mother of four children under the age of 17. She has been married to the love of her life, Aaron, for over 19 years. Lori has been writing at her own website Faith Filled Mom for over 6 years. She writes about the journey of faith we live daily and how we can recognize God in this world. She has completed her 3rd year of teaching theology at a high school level and is also a current student of Loyola University Extension Program of Ministry earning a Master’s Degree in Religious Education. Her life is busy, exciting, overwhelming at times but always bursting with her faith in God. Lori hopes that you will find something that might touch your heart in her writing so that she can continue to pursue her purpose in life; to bring people closer to God one word, one moment at a time.

1 Comment

  1. This is beautiful. I taught 8th grade for two years before staying home with our daughters – I completely can relate to this and the need to love your students where they are. We should love everyone right where they are! Though I sometimes expect grown ups to know better in certain situations – though we as grown ups are all still God’s students, aren’t we?? God bless you and thanks for sharing!!

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.