Ellen G. White refers to the Christian teacher as a true educator. A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and aspire to be like. A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
Teachers are viewed as instruments in the transmission of values because their modeling behaviors are paramount. The Code of Ethics for the Seventh-day Adventist Educators of 1997 clearly states that teachers should be role models to their students and the wider society.
A teacher’s role is to educate. The teacher challenges learners to engage their minds and think in new ways, as well as encourage students’ creativity and innovative thinking. The teacher shapes the learner’s ability to reason. Teachers can serve as role-models in the classroom, by:
- Practicing humility. When a teacher makes a bad choice, he/she should admit that he/she made a mistake. This will help convey to students that everyone makes mistakes and to take responsibility for their actions.
- Encouraging students to think for themselves. Despite the wide syllabus coverage, teachers should allow the space for students to think for themselves. Let them express why they have taken a certain line of thought as opposed to another. Ellen White says in her book Education: “It is the work of true education …to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.”
- Demonstrating a positive outlook. White warns that those who cut up the words and acts of others to discover all that is wrong fail to appreciate the pleasant things in them. Pointing out positives before negatives and teaching students to be in the habit of looking for the good in others helps in building a positive outlook.
- Being personal. When I taught the Evolution theory and Creation account as syllabus content on the topic: ”Early Man” for my history courses at Kenyan Secondary schools, I openly expressed that I believed in Creation as is recorded in the Bible. This strengthened my students’ faith.
- Being Honest. Whenever a teacher makes a promise to his/her class, he/she should keep it. However, when he/she fails to keep a particular promise, he/she should be honest about it and try to make up for it. This helps students see how to deal with their own shortcomings.
- Dressing appropriately. White contends that while the teacher’s clothing should be modest and simple, it should be of a good quality suited for service. She admonishes that teachers should be role models in dress.
- Using social media tastefully. Teachers should be wary about mixing on social media with their students. They should also be mindful about what is on their personal accounts.
- Mingling at potlucks. Teachers should often have a meal with students that celebrate their time together. I have used such forums to encourage healthy eating.
- Establishing organization and punctuality. Teachers should be punctual and adequately prepared to teach. This makes the teacher more effective in delivering the subject matter.
- Providing guidance. Role modeling through continuous guidance and counseling in a positive direction is critically valuable. White affirms that teachers occupy their position as guides and instructors of the youth in molding their minds and character.
- Mentoring and leading. Students learn by seeing their teacher take charge and successfully lead them by providing worthwhile information and encouraging them. White counsels teachers to set a good example for students.
- Modeling an uplifting character and moral values. The society expects teachers to display behaviors that reflect such moral values as fairness, kindness, honesty, and respect.
- Upholding the art of worship. Teachers should actively engage in worship activities with students.
In summary, the teacher is a role model for his/her students when he/she provides real guidance. We as educators should ensure that we model roles that students would want to emulate.