Transformational Teaching videos now on sim.org
By Megan Patterson | International
SIM's Megan Patterson, who has recorded nine free-to-use Transformational Teaching videos.
Having thought and taught for many years about what it means to be a Christian teacher, SIM’s Megan Patterson has now captured all her learning in a series of nine excellent short videos, which have just been made available on sim.org. Here, Megan shares how she began her journey, how her work has changed attitudes to teaching around the world, and what her hopes are for Christian teachers into the future.
As the ceremony ended the school director thanked me warmly for speaking to the children. Then he added with a look of puzzlement: “You don’t teach like we do. Why is that?”
It was my turn to look puzzled. At that stage in my teaching career I hadn’t done any classroom observation in West Africa. Furthermore, I had given little thought to how I taught and none to why I did what I did.
“Do you teach on Wednesday afternoons?” the director asked. I shook my head, no.
“Then I will come on Wednesday afternoons and you can tell me why you teach like that.”
Somewhat dismayed, I nodded vaguely, breathing a prayer that something would crop up to prevent our meeting. “Teach like what?” I thought.
That was nearly 30 years ago. Today I am still grateful to that Beninese school director for starting me on a journey of discovery as to why Christian teachers do what they do in the classroom and why it matters.
We all tend to teach in the same way we ourselves were taught, so it took me a while before I gave much thought to the crucial difference between being a Christian teacher and a teacher who also happens to be a Christian. What I began to realise is that each classroom is actually part of the biblical story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. It is not only information we are sharing, but theology – truth about who God is and what His intentions are in the world He has created.
I have since had the privilege of exploring these ideas with countless teachers globally, and have many times been amazed how their understanding of their privileged and significant place in students’ lives has been revolutionised. One, damp-eyed when he thought about the intimate care of the Creator in guiding the godwit bird on its exceptionally long winter migrations, said to me: “Although I may not mention His name, this changes how I will teach about the animal kingdom.”
Another – a senior school leader – confessed publicly that she had dishonoured her Lord by demeaning pupils. “Pray for me,” she begged us, “that from this day forward I will treat each one as made in the image of God."
What we were all learning was that, however strict the regime in which a teacher works – whether he or she is allowed to mention the Lord or not – we could teach in such a way that our students could notice the difference God makes to our understanding of the world. We began to have confidence that, in teaching as specifically Christian teachers, a chink of light can enter our classrooms and fall on the pages of our students’ textbooks. And we began to trust that, under God, those students, their families and communities, can be brought from darkness to light.
Everything I learned on my journey is unpacked in the nine videos and accompanying workbook, which are all available in both French and English. By watching and engaging with them, I hope that student teachers and teachers at the beginning of their career will be able to learn more quickly than I did the immeasurable privilege of ‘unhiding truth’ for the next generation. And, knowing that I myself need constant reminding of things I already know, I believe experienced teachers will also benefit from revisiting these hugely important topics.
Ideally, the videos will be watched in community with other teachers so that there is ample opportunity for discussion.
•Pray for light to shine into a classroom you know.
•Pray for a beautiful balance of courage and wisdom for Christian teachers.
•Pray for a Christian teacher you know to walk closely with the Creator and grow in his or her understanding of His revelation of Himself through the school subjects.