An Upper School Teacher’s Perspective on A Society of Teachers
“If I had to give up preaching and my other duties,” wrote Martin Luther, “there is no office I would rather have than that of school-teacher. For I know that next to the ministry it is the most useful, greatest, and best…Therefore let it be considered one of the highest virtues on earth faithfully to train the children of others.”
Who are the great teachers who made an extraordinary difference in your life? When you think back to your formative years in elementary, middle, and high school, you probably can’t remember the name of the science curriculum, or the authors of the textbooks you read. You definitely can’t remember everything you were once taught: Who was elected president of the United States in 1884? How do you solve a trigonometry problem? (The president was Grover Cleveland. Sorry, I can’t help with the trigonometry.)
You do, however, remember the men and women who taught you.
You don’t remember all their names, because not all your teachers made that profound an impression on you. But chances are, you very vividly remember a small handful who made a tremendous difference in your life—such a difference, in fact, that you would not be who you are today had it not been for them.
When I came to Cary Christian School in 2006, we had recently moved into a magnificent building on a new, beautiful campus. We soon added an auditorium and science labs, built a field house, and finished other renovations, resulting in the superb facilities we enjoy today. Now, we are building up a Society of Teachers, a vital investment that will also make a remarkable impact on the future of CCS and in the daily lives of our students.
From my own perspective as a history and rhetoric teacher in the Upper School, I can foresee three significant and practical ways that my colleagues and I will be blessed by our new teacher development plan:
- We will have more time and energy to invest in our students. Many of us spend 30-35 hours a week teaching classes to over 120 students. We may love every minute of it, but our busy schedule often leaves us with inadequate time during the school day for planning, grading, professional development, and giving individual attention to students who need it. Once we have met our Annual Fund goal of raising money to increase the size of the Upper School faculty, thereby relieving our weighty teaching loads, we will be able to spend more time improving the quality of our classes and devoting attention to individual students.
- We will become more united and consistent in our ideals as teachers. By the time a CCS student has passed through the Phonics, Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric halls to reach the twelfth grade, he or she may have been instructed by somewhere around 40-50 teachers. We all bring unique instructional styles, personalities, and backgrounds to teaching, and this kind of diversity is a strength. But if we are not united around common goals and ideals of what we are striving for as a school, we cannot consistently help students succeed. Our detailed teacher development plan will bring unprecedented clarity to how we answer the question, “What does it mean to teach students in an extraordinary way?”
- We will be given the opportunity to do the other thing we love most—learning! All teachers love to teach, but we would not have gone into teaching if we did not also love to learn. Learning, we understand, is much more than simply accumulating information in a classroom. It is the lifelong journey of developing skills, growing in wisdom, and—most importantly—maturing as disciples of Jesus Christ. We all know that, no matter how long we have already taught, we can never stop improving. We are either learning or stagnating. Through our new teacher development plan we will again become students—so that we can become even better teachers.
Having been equipped with the training and resources we need to succeed, good teachers can become great teachers, and great teachers can become exceptional ones. Please pray for us and support us as we invest in and build up a Society of Teachers, and as we seek to make an extraordinary difference in the experience of every single student who passes through the halls of Cary Christian School.
The impact may very well last a lifetime.