Geography has always fascinated me, so it was not surprising that I became an Adventist teacher of geography in the Solomon Islands. Still, my first day teaching my Geography class was nerve-wracking. Now, after 13 years of teaching, I look back on my first day and smile. It was not that bad after all. For those who are just beginning to teach, here are a few tips for surviving those first few years of teaching.
First, teach according to the curriculum standards for each course. Read through the curriculum standards and compare them to the subjects you plan to cover. During my first years of teaching, I relied on the notes of the former geography teacher and only realized after two years that some concepts I had spent valuable time teaching were not included in the curriculum.
Second, understand the content of your subject. Create your own teaching notes in line with your subject’s curriculum. When you take the time to create detailed teaching notes, it helps you clarify for yourself what you are going to teach and ensures that you understand the material you are teaching.
Third, persevere in integrating faith and learning. At first, I often omitted the integration of faith and learning in my daily lesson plans because it appeared a daunting task. Upon attending a workshop, I learned that faith and learning can be taught simply by teaching students values. For example, in geography, students can be encouraged to appreciate God’s creation when teaching about conserving the environment. In any class, if you pray at the beginning of class, you are teaching students to put God first in everything they do.
Fourth, appreciate, accept, and love your students. In the early years, I was often distracted and put in little effort in this area. In my sixth year, I started really seeing teaching as my calling and mission. I fell in love with the students. I made more effort to know and understand my students. I learned to appreciate the different character of each student. Despite the difficult days, this perspective allowed me to have an awesome experience with my students and be more effective as a teacher.
Fifth, be open for God to use you as an instrument in His service. Although I am not a perfect teacher, I have learned over the years to humble myself and walk with Jesus, and He has used me to reach students. When you allow God to lead and give you purpose in your teaching, you will be surprised at the joy you can find in helping to shape lives for eternity.
It is our privilege as Adventist educators to be involved in preparing students for life here and for the life to come. We have the opportunity to change students’ lives. Although there will be difficult days, by using these strategies you can become a more effective teacher, truly enjoy teaching, and reap the joys that it brings.