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11 Ways to Empower Your Students
by Tonja Taylor
3/30/2021 / Education
Power. From the time we are born, we all want it! Truly, we are born for it, but we are meant to use it to help others, to the glory of God.
Power is influence, and the world gets it by money, by beauty (although their standards are quite different than the LORD's, Who is THE most beautiful of all!), by humor, and other means.
Power from the LORD has quite a different Source and application.
The LORD Jesus Christ, Who is Love, empowers us by His Spirit of Grace, by His Sprit of Love.
God is Love, and all love comes from Him. Hallelujah!
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.…I John 4:7-9, Berean Study Bible
So how do we empower others? The same way we are empowered: by Love.
This doesn't mean we are blatantly preaching about Jesus nor teaching the Word of God. As educators, we have great influence, and it is an honor to be able to shape the lives of others, especially children.
However, the Great Teacher, the LORD Jesus Christ Who is Love, knows every student uniquely, for He created us all (Genesis 1:26-28)! So we can ask the LORD to give us insight into each student and then yield to His Holy Spirit. We ask Him to empower us to empower them. He always does! He is faithful, faithful, forever!
Whether you are teaching in a public school building, at home, or online, here are some of the ways He helps us empower our students:
(1) Ask Him to fill you afresh with Himself every morning, and to make you sensitive and obedient to His Spirit; to let His gentleness (and all the fruit of the Spirit--Galatians 5:22!) rise up in you. Also, asking Him to put His Words in your mouth is something powerful that He will do for us.
(2) See each student as unique, and as a gift from Him. He trusts us to teach these students, and it is not an accident that they are in our lives, for Him to work through us to impart love and wisdom and educational strategies to them.
(3) Be affectionate towards them. I am that way, and I've not yet met a student (even an adult, really) who didn't like it when I call them "Sweetheart," "Precious," "Darling," and such--all as terms of endearment to the glory of God. (I had one older elementary male student question why I was calling him that, but I explained to him in front of the class that it was just something that flowed out of me, and he started receiving it. I pray it was the beginning of healing for his heart, for it seemed he came from a rough and most likely unloving background.)
(4) Use humor and encourgement as appropriate. Look for things to praise in each student, but not overdoing it. As the LORD told one well-known pastor, "You need to laugh more!" Indeed, the Word says, in Proverbs 15:13, "A joyful heart makes a cheerful face..." (NASB) Also, Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety weighs down the heart of a man, but a good word cheers it up."
(5) Let the students be more active. These kiddos are raised on technology, and they like it. They are also usually very good with it, from typing to drawing with the interactive markers on the electronic whiteboards, etc. They will usually be more engaged if they are doing something with their hands. I'm glad that, over the past 30 years, education has moved more to a student-centric style of teaching.
Almost all students need us to guide them, especially elementary age, but when we allow them to do instead of just listen and watch, they learn much more. This works for all learners, not just those labeled "kinesthetic."
(6) Let them bring things to show you--whether it's photos of their families, or art they created, or a story they wrote; recounts of sports games, or singing a short song or even playing an instrument in your class; as there is time, of course. We have "show and tell" ever so often. I have found that students of every elementary age love this, and giving up a few minutes of instruction time every couple of weeks or so is a good investment in strong relationships, and not a waste of time.
Once, I had an athletically-inclined online student carry his laptop outside and do a forward flip on his big trampoline (with his mom close by, as I was going, "Be safe! Be safe!"). Show and tell keeps things interesting--for the kids, the parents, and the teacher!
(7) Share personal things from your life too. I have shown some students my familly pics, art drawn by my talented mother and daughter, stories and poems I've written, and props I have (stuffed animals, paintings I've done, even though I'm definitely an amateur (but just being confident enough to share my efforts with them is inspiring to them)
(6) Let them "teach" you. One form of reiteration or "retelling" that the LORD showed me, in order to assess that the student has truly comprehended or understood the lesson, is to ask them to "teach" me, or explain back to me--through telling or demonstration--what I just taught them. This has worked well for me with almost every student, no matter how young, except perhaps during the first couple of sessions, where we are still getting to know each other.
This is especially effective if there is an interactive white board, at the front of a public school class, or on an interactive white board. I've even seen some students gain confidence almost instantly, as they realize they are now in the "teacher" role, however temporary! It's an amazing confidence boost!
(7) Be gentle in correction, whether academically or emotionally. Affirm the positives, and address the negatives by reminding the student(s) of expectations and how we all need to follow them to help each other have a good time and learn as much as possible.
(8) Share expectations at the beginning of the relationship. From my experience teaching many years in public schools, and now for many months online, this is usually not needed teaching one-on-one/private classes online. Most students getting private tutoring--especially elementary--have an adult right next to them, listening to and watching the whole session, or at least in the room where they can hear what's going on.
Sometimes, kids get really excited and want to use the tools on the interactive white board. It can be fine for them to draw while they listen--as long as you perceive that they are truly listening and not being distracted. You can assess this orally, by asking them questions as you're teaching.
My daughter (who is now a professional artist, with a university degree in art), used to draw in church, and otherwise, and the LORD helped me understand she was still learning while she did that. He revealed to me that I'm the same way--only I take notes; do a lot of writing. The point it, the hand is in motion, whether it's writing or art, and for some of us, that helps us be more engaged in the material we are learning.) So ask the LORD for wisdom about each student!
(9) Always commend them for telling the truth, which usually means they say, "I don't know." There have been some times when a student said that just being unengaged or bored, but usually, they just haven't heard the concept or word I'm teaching. I often have stated that I am learning things too, and some students have actually taught me things--either cool facts about something we're discussing, or technological things that help my teaching be more efficient! I am sure to thank and brag on them about that. We all like to help each other!
(10) Let peers help each other. Some of my classes have 9 students, and I see all their precious faces at once. They can all hear me, and the student who's speaking at the time. If I ask one student to read a text and he or she struggles with a word, I've taught them to say, "I need some help with this word." Then either I ask who wants to help, or the other students will raise their hands if they want to help, without me prompting them. (They're getting better at doing it without me asking.)
I let the student needing help choose whom he or she wants to help. If the answer is not quite correct, I gently praise them for being willing to help, and praise whatever part was right, then tell them the correct answer.
This is an excellent way for all the students not only to hear the mistakes and the right answers, but to understand more about how to gently correct each other. I also allow the students to comment on one another's work--it has to be constructive, of course. I have found that doing these things builds community among my students, and strengthens their understanding that I believe in them.
(11) Remember to pray for God's will to be done in each student's life and family, and to release any and all worries or concerns about your students and their families to the LORD. Initially, they are His kids and He is working in their lives--through you and others--and He is responsible for them. I know we love our sweet students, and they become "our kids"--even the adults, or at least sometimes--because the LORD Who is the loving Father of all wants the best for every person. We are His Ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). Yet, He does not want us to be burdened down by worry about them. So we can ask for His grace to let Him work through us, answer our prayers, and release them to Him as we trust Him to do what's best for them.
After all, as He revealed to me years ago, we trust Him totally--with ourselves and everything else!--when we go to sleep at night. If we didn't trust Him, we'd never sleep! As He told me once, "While you're sleeping, I am keeping you..." Yes, the Great I AM is watching over us--and those we love! Hallelujah!!
These tips will help empower your students, and the LORD will be faithful to give you even more strategies as you implement these, and ask Him for more!
Remember, you are not the teacher; Jesus the Christ is. He is with you and for you, forever!
Nathanael answered, “Rabbi (Teacher), You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”--John 1:49, Amplified Bible
Tonja K. Taylor is the author of many works, including THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCESS PEARL, P.O.W.E.R.* Girl! series. She and her husband Clayton minister the Word through teaching, preaching, and the arts, via River Rain Creative Arts (You Tube, God Tube), their church, and beyond.
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