10 Mistakes School Teachers Frequently Make
Psalm 32:8 tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” In public schools, separated from religion by the U.S. Constitution, teachers can neither offer their religious views with their students nor share the spiritual love they feel towards their students. This is only one of the mistakes teachers make in the public sphere. Its impact, like the other nine errors we cite here, goes beyond the academic life of a child.
#1: “My Loving Eye”
Public school teachers accept every child coming through their door—they have to, since the school is open to all. One cannot fault the teachers for perhaps not knowing each child’s heart as thoroughly as a parent does. State and federal laws prevent teachers from expressing more than the superficial “love” for their students, often expressed through a few words:
- “I love my students.”
- “You are very good at math.”
- “I love the way you wrote that.”
Mistakes teachers make in the busy day of a school setting includes not telling students where the love comes from. As I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
#2 “A Harsh Word”
Among the sadder mistakes teachers make is to ignore or not see bullying among school children. Proverbs 15:1 helps us recall, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
As Focus on the Family points out, parents cannot shrug off bullying issues if their child is the target or the bully. It is a family issue that needs to be addressed, and often the public school does not address it adequately. When I was a teacher, it was often hard to know who was being bullied. Most of these student are shy and do not want to “tattle” on another student. That is why the family along with the teacher is the most important weapon when it comes to fighting the bullying.
#3: “Whoever Loves Wealth”
It is true that, historically, school teachers have been vastly underpaid for their work, but that was largely made up by the high esteem in which they were held by their community, and the security they had from public pensions when they retired with honor.
With the erosion of confidence in public school education, the constant hammering of public unions by politicians, and the attempts to undercut public employee pensions in state after state, many teachers no longer look to their work as a calling, but as a paycheck.
As Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.” Among the mistakes teachers make, not knowing when they are more driven by the money than by actually enjoying their job may be among the most damaging.
Teachers will have difficult students who make working some days hard. They are human just like everyone else and have to deal with day to day struggles. This does not give teachers a pass, though, in not loving students through that struggle.
#4: “My Brother’s Keeper”
Among the mistakes teachers make in dealing with packed classrooms is the tendency to compel the smarter students to help the less able. As Genesis 4:9 relates, “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?”
Children, especially the smart, adept children who grasp concepts and can move along in the curriculum, resent being held back to move at the pace of the slower students. They prefer not to be their brothers’ keepers, and in asking them to take on these roles is unfair. They are still learning themselves and deserve a chance to move at their own pace.
An alternative to this would be to do more group activities so that more students are working together and more opinions are being discussed about a particular assignment. This will keep the “pressure” off of the students and with the teacher.
#5: “You be Not Judged”
Struggling children are often judged harshly by the public/private school system. One of the mistakes teachers make is being quick to judge a child as learning disabled. The child becomes frustrated and loses self-esteem, when all she or he really needed was loving kindness to learn more slowly.
“Judge not, that you be not judged.”
#6: “As Few Distractions as Possible”
I Corinthians 7:35 advises us, “I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”
Mistakes teachers make include trying to do too much; they must fundraise, organize clubs, arrange field trips, oversee after-school dances, sports and plays. The classroom may be full of distractions, from students going and coming throughout a period for services (the nurse, the counselor, the speech therapist and more), for one-on-one help, for testing or for discipline issues. When public school teachers lose sight of their main objective—teaching a subject so that students really “get” it—then they lose their students. I became slave to this when I taught in a public school. I had too much on my plate and I never got to truly interact with the students.
#7: “He Who Loves Him”
Proverbs 13:24 reminds us, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” As Justin Taylor tells us, “True Christian education involves loving and edifying instruction, grounded in God’s gracious revelation, mediated through the work of Christ, and applied through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that labors to honor and glorify the triune God.”
Discipline mistakes teachers make often steer a child toward repeating the bad behavior and not seeking the good. There is a difference between discipline that will help a child and discipline that will hurt a child mentally. Teachers need to set a standard in their classroom from the beginning so that children know what is expected.
#8: “Great and Unsearchable Things”
Children are welcome to pray silently in public school. A common mistake teachers make, though, is not providing quiet, contemplative time for children to do this. Often the schedule is so packed, children have no time for solitude, introspection, or reverent quiet time.
This is an injustice to children, too, as Jeremiah 33:3 tells us: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Children who spend time praying will have great things revealed to them, and will feel comforted.
#9: “The Way”
The world is constantly changing, and with change comes confusion. Many of the mistakes teachers make come from attempting too many new changes, such as:
- New technology
- New curriculum
- New teaching methods
- New teaching tools
Forgotten in the rush of progress is the true path to knowing, as spoken in John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”Christian teachers need to remember that they are not a one-man/woman army. They need Christ everyday with them. As change in the education system comes, teachers are going to need someone to find confidence and rest in. Change is not a bad thing, but when we put all our time and energy in change, it could be detrimental.
#10 “Trying to Please Man”
Mistakes teachers make in attempting to provide the widest possible net to pass knowledge to the widest group of children often result in trying to please too many masters. Parents demand this or that change, school board members become elected over a single hot-button issue or principals give you a mile long list of things to-do. Within all this chaos, the curriculum weakens and the children’s education is not where it could be.
Forgotten in this is the wisdom of Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” At the end of the day, we are only here on Earth for one thing and this is to glorify God in all that we do. We should not worry about the opinions of others’ about our lives.
Teachers have a hard job. They have the education of students’ in their hands. They have to deal with parents, colleagues, discipline and their own personal lives all at once. These mistakes that teachers make are not intentional, but they do seem to always arise. Everyone has fallen short of the Glory of God, so we are all sinners and we are all going to make mistakes. These mistakes teachers make are among them. Let’s join together in remembering the teachers of this country in our prayers.
Unfortutanely, mistakes in the public/private school system do arise. To ensure your children do not suffer from these mistakes, contact Enlightium Academy today. Enlightium is a fully accredited online private Christian school that allows students to work at their own pace with a flexible schedule. Our affordable tuition, individualized curriculum, and simple admissions process maintains the advantages of a home school education while also preparing students for college. Additionally, Enlightium offers record-keeping and has worked with families in all 50 states to meet state requirements. Feel free to call us at 866-488-4818 if you have any questions about transferring to Enlightium Academy.