Johnny is one of your students. He is a fairly hard worker but a jokester most of the time. He has a smile that can change the classroom environment as quick as lightning and a positive attitude that is infectious among his peers.
At one point, after teaching a lesson on the chemical properties of matter, Johnny is working tirelessly trying to complete a science experiment at his table. You notice a slight bit of confusion on his face as he fumbles through his textbook. You decide to pass by to make sure everything is going well because you know that if Johnny is confused, there is a good chance the rest of the class will follow his lead.
When you are about 2 steps away from his desk, he feels your presence and lifts up his head sharply. With his mind still on the experiment, he throws his hand up and blurts out “Mom? I mean… Mrs. Johnson? I don’t get it.”
The students who are close by begin laughing historically at the idea that Johnny would call you “Mom,” but you get caught up in a moment of silent pride. Johnny has subliminally connected the same sense of comfort that he feels at home with school and, more importantly, he feels towards you a love that is similar to that which he has for his mother. Nothing could be more humbling for you as an educator.
As Christian Teachers, we have been given the responsibility to care for God’s Children as if they were our own. To do so, we take on a parenting role that, in the words of Brother Edward Everett, FSC, “is as gentle as a mother and as firm as a father, so that we can be understood as the visible sacrament of God for each child.”
Teachers, like God, fulfill the roles necessary for their students to progress in knowledge and virtue. Sometimes this means playing “mom” while other times it means playing “dad.”
For pedagogical ways to fulfill these roles in your classroom, consult the genderless creator of all parents by constantly putting yourself in His presence. He too likes it when we call Him “Dad.”
Live Jesus in our hearts forever!