Perception Does Not Always Have to Be Reality

Have you ever watched your students sitting silently and listlessly in class, only to see them totally engaging each other after class? Discouraging reality.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/David Castillo Dominici
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net/David Castillo Dominici

I read a post a while back that caught my attention. We often have a false perception of our students and it leads to a true wall that inhibits our ability to create change within their hearts and their character. We become disenchanted that our students are not mesmerized with what we think is a “solid performance” in the classroom. We view the EKG of our classroom and find that our class has flat-lined.

“Is it possible that your students are not brain-dead? Is it possible that their classroom coma is induced by classroom conditions and that once they cross the threshold into another world, they return to life?” (Parker J. Palmer, Courage to Teach, p. 43)

Teaching in a classroom is no easy feat and there are many discouraged and disheartened teachers out there…I know, I have been one in the past. Have you ever thought about, though, building a bridge to cross into their world and engage them actively where they are?

This is not a new problem and you know what? There is a solution. A look at the master of all teachers will tell you that. Walk through the Gospels and observe Jesus at work. With each individual or audience that gathered, Jesus jumped into that life or group of lives.

Whether the woman at the well or the hungry crowd on the hillside, Jesus had an accurate view of his classroom and especially his students. He was a master teacher because every teaching scenario was structured on the specific needs of those with whom he was teaching. And it made him undeniably effective as a teacher.

For Jesus’ students, they did not have to “cross the threshold into another world” and “return to life.” The reason for this was because Jesus entered their world and used what was around his students to bring amazing lessons into their lives. He also connected thought to their reality. And many went away radically changed. And as a teacher, this is what every course should have as its mission: changed thinking that leads to a changed life. I teach education courses but those are simply conduits to have the opportunity to change a life where that life is at.

Your perception of your students may be reality, and then again, it may not be. Make the intentional effort to come to right conclusions by building bridges into their world.

Community Input: What strategies do you employ to jump into the world of your students?

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