On the first day of school, a first year middle school science teacher welcomed his students as they casually made their way to their seats. After getting to know his students names with a rather boring ice breaker game, the teacher then began to lay down some ground rules. As the students began to interrupt his explanation of the rules, the teacher stopped the lesson and lectured for 10 minutes about the importance of raising hands in order to avoid such interruptions. The class was silent and uninterested until the bell rang and the class was over. The teacher watched his students leave his room as he felt a surge of pride dwell within him. He had managed to quiet the class and achieve order on the first day. To him, this was a good first milestone to have been reached.

The next day, the students came into his class and as they were ready to begin their first lesson, the teacher asked them to open their books to chapter one. He then asked for a volunteer reader. No one raised their hand. After waiting for 30 seconds, the teacher grew impatient and being to read out loud.

When he came to an interesting part of the text, he attempted to start a group discussion. Again, no one spoke, and no one raised their hand.

The rest of the class period followed this trend. The teacher reading, the students listening, and no one learning. When the bell rang, the students grabbed their books and traveled out the door. The first year teacher was distraught and went back home to think about what he could do better to engage his students.

The next day, when the students arrived, the teacher again asked them to open up their books and turn to chapter 2. Instead of asking for a reader, the teacher began to read with a more energetic and almost hyper tone. As he read, he noticed his students began to perk up and gain interest, not so much in the text, but at their teacher’s strange behavior.

Then the teacher asked, “So what do you think about that?”

A couple of students blurted out a coherent answer that related to the text. The teacher was ecstatic to see that by changing his energy level, the students were responding, even if they were blurting out without raising their hands. The rest of the class carried on in the same way. By the time class was finished, the teacher was ready to go home and rest after losing so much energy in the delivery of his lesson.

The next day, the students came in to the classroom to find their teacher a little bit tired. He couldn’t find the energy to give his lesson on chapter three in the same way he did for chapter two. So, he told the students to open their books to chapter 3 and he asked for volunteers to read. Once again, no one raised their hand.

Just then, a couple of students began to start reading out loud to fill the silence without raising their hand. The teacher, frustrated once again, stopped them and informed them of the importance of raising their hands.

One student spoke up and said, “But yesterday we didn’t have to raise our hands. Why do we need to today?”

Just then, the bell rang and the students walked out the door. The teacher remained in deep and tired thought as all of the students passed him by. Even the one who just humbled the new teacher through a simple question slid out of the room to arrive on time to her next class.

The teacher thought to himself and realized the promise he had not fulfilled and the physical weakness that caused this truth to be revealed. He went home to rest.

Every teacher I know has gone through a situation similar to the one mentioned in the aforementioned story. Some have been given the grace to realize the importance of consistency in their teaching and management while others do not.

Where are we in this decision?

Where were we when we were beginning our first teaching job?

May Jesus live in our hearts forever!

The Importance of Teaching Visualization

From an early age, we are taught to “visualize” the books we read in our minds so as to enhance the realness of the story based on the power of our intellect. When we read, we picture the events through the gift of imagination and allow these images to stay with us to remember them. In fact, when we begin to read, we use visual examples to help us remember small words. This reading technique stays with us for the rest of our lives and allows us to see what we read and react to it in a multitude of different ways.

One of the ways we react to reading is through art. In the same way an author paints a mental picture for us to see an image through his or her words, a painter is able to capture these visualizations on canvass and show his or her interpretation to the world. God has given this talent to certain people as a microcosm of His artistry. For God is indeed and artist- this world wouldn’t be so beautiful without His personal brush strokes.

And yet, God was willing to send His only Son to be with us in both flesh and Spirit for a short time. Many artists have attempted to capture His Holy and human essence through the creation of various images, but with such a range of assumptions and so little physical descriptions mentioned in the Bible, God has allowed these artists the base their art on the imagination of their own free will. In turn, they have produced countless portrayals of the Biblical stories, each according to their own customs, cultures, and traditions. How all-encompassing it is to know that our Lord who created all humanity is represented by each race in the imagery of His own people

Should we worship these images? No. In the same way we wouldn’t worship the pages in our Bibles nor the ink inside them, rather, we worship the Spirit that inspired these words. In the same way we worship the divine Spirit that inspired the artists to create these holy images.

After all, wouldn’t we rather have our students producing artwork based on Christian virtues as opposed to the vanities of the material world? It seems that if our students are willing to take the visualization skills we teach them in Elementary reading classes and use them to produce art based on Christianity, it speaks volumes of their faith and holiness.

May these images help us reflect on our abilities to visualize the glory that God has instilled upon us, our intellect, and our faith.  Happy Easter!

May Jesus live in our hearts forever!