A Message for Christian Teachers

What’s Here

Message for Christian TeachersMaintaining a professional website has been a balancing game for me.  On one hand, I need to reach teachers who are solely interested in educational resources. On the other hand, I have a desire to share ideas with an eternal value and deeper implications. I’ve personally experienced how the love of God can transform the way we approach our work as teachers, and to leave out that message would be to waste an incredible opportunity to help educators who want to incorporate their spirituality into their daily work.

I’ve experienced an unexplainable joy that comes from striving to know God more and incorporating Him into my everyday routines. Nothing I have accomplished so far has been done apart from His power and grace. Sharing so much of what I do on a daily basis in the classroom is nearly impossible without mentioning Him. I created this page and The Cornerstone Devotions for Teachers to encourage teachers to seek God as their source of strength in all they do and view even the most mundane aspects of teaching as part of a divine calling.

A Word of Encouragement

There are many days when I feel impatient with the kids–like the three thousandth time I have reminded them to put their names on their papers and am still faced with the inevitable task of handwriting scrutiny to determine the authorship of four random papers.   I want to chastise them (“How many times have I told you??”) but the thought always occurs to me–how many times have I done that to God?  How many times has He corrected me with loving-kindness only for me to turn around and make the exact same mistakes over and over again, sometimes even willfully!  What if Jesus treated us that way:  “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to do this.  Next time, forget it, I’m not helping you.  Don’t come crying to me when the consequences fly in your face.”  His patience is endless, and that is how He calls us to be.

His grace is the model for how we are to treat others–rendering favor when we don’t have to and changing our focus from giving students what they ‘deserve’ to seeing them how God sees them.  That doesn’t mean there are no consequences–God is a just God (Isaiah 30:18), He is a God of order and not of chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33), and He speaks repeatedly in His word about how children must be taught obedience and respect (Proverbs 22:6, 22:15, 23:13, 29:15, Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20).  But our place is not to condemn and criticize, it is to lift up our students.  When I deal with a particularly challenging student or parent, rather than saying, “This kid doesn’t care, his parents don’t care, I give up, I’m not dealing with it anymore”, I try to pray for them instead, that God would work through me to bring positive change.   That’s really hard to do sometimes and I end up praying for my own attitude to change more than anything!

The books of Ephesians and Galatians always remind me of the character God wants me to have (all scripture in the New King James Version):

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.   (Ephesians 4:29)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23, italics added)

These are the attributes God calls Christians to show, and I know that He would especially want us to demonstrate those qualities towards the precious little ones in our care.  We are to love them unconditionally, have joy in our work, let the peace we have inside show on the outside, be patient with others’ shortcomings, model kindness and goodness, be gentle with our words, and have self-control when we are tempted to make harsh or rash decisions.  What a calling!  And how wonderful that we can call upon Him for help when these things seem too difficult to manage.

We should also keep in mind that the Bible tells us: Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1) I personally believe that this verse applies not only to teachers of the word of God but also to anyone in a position to dispel knowledge to others in a formalized setting.  In other words, those of us who are pillars in the community, whose lives are on display in front of impressionable young people, who mold the attitudes and priorities of children and are responsible for teaching them truth and wisdom–we are held to a higher standard by God.

Our influence on students cannot be overestimated.  Don’t we all remember a horrible teacher from our childhood who embarrassed us or made us feel like we were worth nothing?  And doesn’t each of us recall a fabulous teacher who inspired and encouraged us?   What a powerful impression these teachers made, for good or for bad–we still remember them far into our adult years.  As educators, we have an awesome responsibility and privilege set before us and we are called to take it on with grace and wisdom.

Although sharing our faith is not appropriate in a public school setting, we have the privilege and obligation before God to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit when working with our students, their parents, and our co-workers.  We are called to work as unto the Lord, not as unto man, and strive to do everything with excellence. Other people should be able to tell through our actions that something about us is different.  Showing Christ’s love through the way we live our lives is the most powerful witness we can have.

“You [believers] are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” -Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16)

IN SUMMARY:  Students have more religious freedom than we as teachers do.  Our job is to make sure that all of our students feel comfortable, respected, and accepted in our classrooms.  The best and only truly legal way to express our spiritual beliefs in school is through the witness of how we live our lives; striving to be modest in appearance and attitude, honest and full of integrity, avoiding gossip, helping others whenever we can, showing patience and respect to our students, and sharing the joy and peace that we have found in God through a positive attitude.

Developing the Right Mindset

I wrote this book to encourage teachers who WANT to stay positive and keep a good attitude, but struggle because of the random, endless list of stuff that just seems to pop up everyday, all day long in school. Awakened provides specific, actionable steps you can take to change your perspective and automatic response to stressful situations. Though this is not written just for Christian teachers, each suggestion is based on biblically-sound principles. People who don’t know the Lord will find solid, common-sense, practical advice, and believers will recognize tips that reinforce the truth of God’s word. More information about the book can be found here.

Check Out the Devotions!

The Cornerstone Devotions for Teachers is a separate blog I maintain to provide spiritual support for educators. I try to post at least once a month. You can subscribe to new posts from the devotions page to get new devotions sent automatically to your email inbox.

NEW–Join The Cornerstone Devotions For Teachers on Facebook!

The Cornerstone Devotions for Teachers Facebook PageOur community now has a new Facebook page! Stop by and tell us what you teach and what you need prayer for. Share something awesome that God’s doing in your classroom or in your life. Or just hang back, and wait for something that’s posted to speak to you. I don’t know exactly what this whole endeavor will look like, or what each of our roles will be, but I’m excited to see what God has planned.

Now What?

Visit the main God’s Place page
Learn about the rights and restrictions of Religion in Public Schools
Check out the Teacher Devotions
Read my latest thoughts and reflections about teaching on The Cornerstone Blog
See what new stuff has been added to the site recently on the Free Teacher Resources page

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Angela was a classroom teacher for 11 years and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City. She's created a webinar series on pro-active behavior management and has written 3 books for educators. Check out the blog and free teacher resource pages for photos, tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cheri S July 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Thank you for your sharing of your faith, and what the Lord has done and is doing in your life – it is truly refreshing to hear (read) about what other Christian teachers are experiencing out there – I will be a frequent viewer of your web site! I’m thankful it was recommended to me by someone I don’t think is a believer yet!

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2 Angela Watson July 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Cheri! As I stated above, this is the most important section of my website, and I hope it reaches people who might not otherwise find spiritual encouragement and learn about the love of Christ. :-)

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3 Peggy White July 23, 2010 at 7:36 am

Thanks, Angela, your whole site has given me encouragement as I face second grade for the first time as a teacher. You have done a lot of work that is inspiring and reflects the nature of a Christian woman- influential, humble and effective. I will use and appreciate your book very much, and I hope you reap the benefits for a long time. Thanks for sharing so much useful information!
Peggy

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4 Angela Watson May 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

I’m sorry for the late reply, Peggy, somehow some of the comments didn’t show up where they were supposed to in my notifications. Thank you for YOUR words of encouragement. I hope you’ve found the book useful. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

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5 Cindy Wooldridge July 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Wow! It was truly a blessing to come across this site! I really look at teaching as more of a ministry for me than anything else and I can see that you do as well! God Bless you!

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6 Angela Watson July 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thank you, Cindy! :-)

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7 Sabra Tucker November 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

Thanks for all of the resources you have shared and continue to share with educators. I feel I have truly found a kindred spirit! May God continue to bless your work and the work of all teachers across our great land.

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8 Angela Watson November 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Thank you, Sabra! Please keep in touch. :-)

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9 Rachel November 3, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I’m preparing to student teach in the spring, graduate, and get married in May. After a particularly discouraging semester in my teaching program, I am so blessed to find your site! I often wrestle with my purpose in this profession, but your words helped illuminate that I need to seek God daily for my purpose as a teacher. I will be stopping back for more!

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10 Angela Watson November 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Thanks, Rachel! I’m working on a book right now called Awakened that will help teachers deal with disillusionment and lack of purpose in teaching. I think it’s harder than ever before to stay focused on what our calling is all about–you’re definitely not alone in dealing with that. Glad I could provide some encouragement. Hang in there, and hang onto Him! :-)

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11 Bethany P. December 14, 2010 at 11:12 am

Thank you so much for sharing your faith and the reason behind why you are a teacher! I feel the same way and your written thoughts encouraged me. I will begin student teaching in a few weeks and reading what you wrote motivated me to read more of God’s Word and trust in Him in all that I do, even my career. Thank you for being a bold witness for our Lord :) May the God of Peace bless you in all that you do so that people may come to know Christ!

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12 Angela Watson May 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hi, Bethany, I hope student teaching has gone well for you! I appreciate your kindness.

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13 Eli December 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm

What an inspiration!!!! Thank you for this website and for sharing your faith. :)

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14 Angela Watson May 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thanks, Eli, for taking the time to comment. It really means a lot!

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15 Heather Lynch March 24, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I stumbled upon this blog today and I am so happy that I did. This post is exactly what I needed to read today. It is so easy to let frustrations control how you respond to your students, but as a Christian I need to let the fruit of the Spirit guide me. Thank you so much for this reminder.

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16 Angela Watson May 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hi, Heather! It’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture and get caught up in the little annoyances of teaching, isn’t it? The more time we spend with God, the easier it comes to see Him in everything we do and stay focused. I’m glad you came by, and took the time to comment. :-)

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17 Jackie May 12, 2011 at 4:03 am

I found your blog on Twitter and I wanted to check it out because of the tweet–>>>”Overall Great Teaching Blog: http://www.thecornerstoneforteachers.com/ minus the intense Christian/God told me to teach part.”<<< unlike the tweeter, I was drawn in because of your passion and obedience to God. I am an ex-teacher (homeschool my daughter now) and I am a follower of Christ who finds your blog refreshing. Keep up the wonderful job.

Joyfully,
Jackie
http://www.quaintscribbles.wordpress.com

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18 Angela Watson May 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

Hi, Jackie! Your comment made me laugh out loud. Isn’t it funny how God can take a slightly disparaging comment and turn it around for His good? What a great example of this. I am glad the person who tweeted that was able to find benefit in the rest of the site–that was exactly my hope, to have a separate section for ‘God’s Place’ so that anyone who’s not interested can avoid it and stick to classroom management stuff.

I know there are people who think I’m a bit kooky to have this kind of content on my site, and I see how it could be a bit ‘intense’ for people who don’t understand. But I have yet to hear from anyone who would argue with my basic message: that we as Christian teachers should work with excellence and show unfailing kindness and compassion to everyone we work with. Doctrine is divisive, but the love of God is healing.

I’m glad you found the blog refreshing–as a homeschooler you might still like The Cornerstone Devotions for Teachers. Feel free to check them out. :-)

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19 Emily June 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Thank you for encouraging a first year, Christian teacher who is trying to fit into the public schools! I will be a faithful follower.

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20 Gwen June 29, 2011 at 9:59 am

I have been searching for a resource like this for 7 years! My heart says amen to your inspirational words. I will refer to your website through the school year and I will share it with my co workers. Thank you for allowing God to use you.

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21 Angela Watson July 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Thank you, Gwen! I’m so glad this was helpful. Be sure to check out the devotions site–I try to post there at least twice a month. :-)

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22 Stefanie Osbourn July 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Mrs. Watson, I will begin my very first year of teaching in a month. Your site was recommended to me by the mentor teacher I had during my student teaching experience. I’m so glad. Since being hired I have been steadily reading through every page. When I came to this page, about the faith you and I share, my heart smiled. Thank you so much for everything you share on this site, but especially for this. As others have already said, I will be a frequent visitor to this site, and I’ve already recommended it on my blog. :)

Stefanie Osbourn

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23 Angela Watson August 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thank you so much, Stefanie! Your encouragement is much appreciated. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. :-) Have a fantastic school year!

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24 Minnie July 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Wow Angela you are an inspiration, I am a christian and I struggled last year with my patience and this really helps for my upcoming year. Thank you so very much

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25 Angela Watson August 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

You’re welcome, Minnie! Patience is one of my biggest struggles, too. I have to constantly remind myself to be humble so that I don’t get irritated when little people (okay, and big people, too!) don’t think exactly as I do or work at exactly my pace. Impatience comes from pride: thinking that everything should be done my way. That’s a recipe for unhappiness if I’ve ever heard one! :-)

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26 Minnie August 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Thank you for replying, it is good to see that you are a REAL person :)

Angela,
I need some advice, I just started school this past week, I am a fifth grade teacher teaching Intensive Reading. This is a challenge for me because I am a second year teacher expected to do miracles with this class. Don’t get me wrong my students are great and my team has been encouraging, but I am feeling the pressure of performance. I am the kind of person who puts everything that I have into my students but I am slowly starting to break down. I guess what I am trying to say is I need some prayer and a stranger to talk to. :) I FEEL I HAVE SO MUCH TO COVER SO LITTLE TIME….AND LOTS OF PRESSURE FROM THE BOSS…

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27 Angela Watson October 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

Hi, Minnie! I’m sorry for the late reply, I just now saw your comment for some reason. Feel free to email me (angelawatson [at] live [dot] com). I’d love to hear how your school year is going now that you’re a few more weeks in. :-)

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28 Marie Booth December 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I just came across your site and I have to say “Thank you”! I am about to embark on my last semester of school before I become a full fledged teacher. I have already had my ups and downs and have been ablet to learn a lot of great ideas and information through my schooling. However, the one thing I have had yet to explore is how my faith and who I am becasue of it can enter into the classroom. I’m not here to preach to the students but only be a light for them and get them wondering what is it about Mrs. Booth that is different? On top of that, I am to be a science teacher which has even more confounding problems associated with the content that I teach. I look forward to reading more from you and know that you have a new follower!

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29 Angela Watson December 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to share your story! I love the way you phrased that: “What is it about my teacher that is different?” That is exactly what I think we should be aiming for…projecting such kindness, patience, and joy that people realize we are not just going through the motions in life but experiencing it on a much fuller level. Christ draws us to Him with His love, and hopefully we can do the same for others. :-)

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30 ayesha May 1, 2012 at 7:30 am

i was in desperate need of teaching methods explained in bible. i have never studied bible. your explanation of what a teacher must do and the ethics were very clear and helped me a lot. i’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you for this creating this lovely page!

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31 Jessica May 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I am so glad I found this site! I found the link to your Interview Tips page via Pinterest, but I had no idea you were a Christian too! I am a brand-new teacher, just about to start my student teaching in the fall. I have been wondering how to balance my Christian walk and witness with teaching in a public school. I feel such a burden for public school students, and I want to be a light, but I also know that legally I am restricted in what I can say. Your site is such a great resources, and I’m sure it will be a great blessing to me over the coming year. So, thank you!

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32 Angela Watson May 31, 2012 at 9:36 am

Hi, Jessica! Thank you for those kind words. Many blessings to you in your student teaching!

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33 Jan June 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I started to say that I happened to stumble across this site by sheer happentance but I know that God led me here. Your words were so refreshing and encouraging and just what I needed to hear. I just finished my student teaching this past April and I’ve been applying for jobs and praying a lot. I haven’t had an interview yet but I believe God already has a job for me. I’m so eager to get in the class and teach. My student teacheing experience was wonderful and life changing. I always tried to set a good example for the class because I knew that I was not legally allowed to discuss my religion.
In doing this, I even had one student privately ask me if I was Christian. He told me he was Christian too and he could tell instantly that I was.

This is a wonderful site and praise be to Him for educators like you! Reading your words and the words of the Lord gave me so much inspiration. I can’t wait to teach and be ‘salt and light’ for my students. I will definitely be visiting this site frequently! Many blessings to you!

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34 Lisa August 21, 2012 at 7:47 am

What a great reminder about having continual grace with your students, as that’s what Christ does for us. I’m so excited to have found your devotions; they’ll be a great way to start my morning each day once I get to school. Thanks!

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35 Angela Watson August 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

You’re welcome, Lisa! Have a wonderful school year and enjoy your kiddos!

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36 Melly Toelihere September 26, 2012 at 12:52 am

Hi, Mrs. Watson,
Wow!!! What you’ve shared is magnificent. I work a Christian school in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. We, teachers, call ourselves teachers but sometimes we forget to understand that our students make mistakes like us… I absolutely agree with you that our God keeps on showing His blessings and love even we make huge mistakes… Why can’t we do the same thing as God has shown us… It’s a hard job though… However, we have to make it. Every morning before the school starts, teachers gather in the teachers’ room to have morning devotions… I’ll share your writing with other teachers to motivate them… Thank you for the enlightment… God loves you!

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37 Angela Watson September 26, 2012 at 10:05 am

Thank you, Melly! I appreciate your uplifting words.

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38 A.J. Johnson October 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Angela,
What a blessing your site has been to me. I recently opened my own educational consulting firm after 16 years as a teacher, coach, instructional coach, and principal. I am preparing a motivational session for the staff at a Christian School, and I found your website while researching material. As a Christian educator, it is imperative that we do not divorce our Faith from our profession. Our God is too good to us, and the children and teachers we serve need to see and feel the Love of Christ on a daily basis.

Your Fellow Consultant in Christ,

AJ

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39 Angela Watson October 2, 2012 at 10:17 am

That’s great, AJ! Thank you for sharing that. Many blessings to you in your work!

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40 Susan January 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Teaching is such a ministry! If you know of Christian teachers who feel called teach overseas please see my iMovie on my blog about our new school in Asia. Indonesia!
It is short turn up the volume for the bird sounds! Enjoy!

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41 Angela Watson January 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi, Susan! I would love to interview you about your experiences teaching in Indonesia. I’ll shoot you an email. Thanks!

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42 Ana Maria Jimenez August 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

I am so happy to see others sharing the same vision that God has given me. God bless you and thanks for sharing!

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