August 15, 2013
Teachers Talk - Bringing JOY Back into Teaching
Trisha Higgins-Handy, Teacher, Greaves Adventist Academy, Montreal, QC

Grading papers, preparing report cards, supervising outdoors, attending staff meetings and parent-teacher interviews are just a few of the many responsibilities that come with the assignment of teaching. Some of these are the cause of much stress and little happiness. We often view teaching as a profession where one is overworked and underpaid. Should I dare mention the look on many of our faces as we interact with school administrators, colleagues, students, and parents? You know…the look (sometimes permanent) that gives the impression that we would rather be doing something else. What has happened to our enthusiasm? What has happened to the JOY? Sometimes, we are so engrossed with the secondary academic agenda that we forget the primary purpose: helping to lead students into a saving relationship with Jesus.  Jesus Christ should be presented first and foremost in every class period and each lesson plan.  The character of Jesus is to be exalted as the Ultimate Example that all should aspire to be like. Students should be taught about the greatness of God, the unconditional love of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ellen G. White writes, “The salvation of our pupils is the highest interest entrusted to the God-fearing teacher [where] his [or her] special and determined effort should be to save souls from perdition and win them to Jesus Christ.”[1]
Once students have opened their hearts to receive the love of God, they will become ambassadors and share Jesus with others. The Great Commission given by Jesus to “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Matthew 28: 19-20) is one of the unique characteristics of Seventh-day Adventist Education that I appreciate most. When our students leave our institutions of learning, they are equipped with many tools to serve God through service to their fellow man. At times we are challenged by our global community that is too focused on self. Given the opportunity, students and teachers alike are almost guaranteed to be connected to their iPods, iPads, and/or iPhones. These and other electronic gadgets are often used for self-gratification and usually not in service to others. We should spend less time on and by ourselves and refocus our attention on helping others. Imagine what a different world it would be if everyone thought of others before himself or herself.
 E.G. White says that "True education means more than the perusal of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come."[2] As I contemplate how to meet this objective of bringing JOY back into teaching, I realize, with humility, that this begins with me. As a Seventh-day Adventist teacher, I must have a personal relationship with God. My daily commitment to Him will give me renewed strength and focus to fulfill my ministry to Him. If I walk and talk with God, my face, my demeanor, my life will radiate His presence, and all will see Jesus through me. As teachers, we may be the only glimpse of Jesus a child will experience. What a great privilege and responsibility! I must learn to be unashamed and unafraid to share my faith and my personal experience with Jesus to show students and others that Jesus is real and works in my life daily. I should endeavor to make my classroom, the hallways, the cafeteria, the playground – the entire school – a place where Jesus’ name is proclaimed. Bringing Jesus back to school will guarantee that JOY will again return to teaching.

[1]Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985) p. 117.
[2]Ellen G. White, Education. (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1952) p. 13.