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My friend, Kaitlin, decided 3/4 of the way through this past school year that it was time to get more intentional in her attempts to motivate and inspire her students. She decided that she could use her relationships with students to appropriately and actively point them toward the truths of life that will encourage them to live out the purpose for which they were created. With a little nervousness and a lot of excitement, Kaitlin began using strategies such as the ones shared here on the FTN.
After her first attempt to inspire students in her classroom, Kaitlin emailed me and mentioned that her students were a little 'perplexed' as to why she was sharing these ideas with them. This was a little troubling for her, but being the passionate teacher she is, she was determined to make it work.
Kaitlin's experience is very similar to that of many other teachers. You take a big risk when you step out beyond the content to intentionally try to inspire students. When kids don't immediately have the reaction you'd hope for, it's easy to get a little discouraged. It's easy to wonder, as Kaitlin did, what to tell your students about why you're trying these non-content-related activities.
Here's my advice to all teachers: TELL YOUR STUDENTS EXACTLY WHY YOU ARE DOING IT!!!! Tell them that you care about them WAY more than content. Tell them they were created for a special purpose, and what you'd most like to do as a teacher is help connect them with that purpose. Tell them you are interested in their lives. Tell them you know they will not remember all the content you teach them, but that you hope they will receive guidance from you for their lives. Tell them you want to have fun by looking at life as well as content. Tell them you love them.
Look at it this way - if your students are perplexed by you stepping into non-content territory, embrace their confusion. Use answering their question as a wonderful opportunity to let them know who you truly are and how you truly feel.
Do your kids want to know why? Tell them why!