You Don’t Need to Be a Better Teacher (You Just Need to Be a Better Human)

Dec 22, 2014

How are you planning to grow as a teacher in 2015?

I know the challenge of carving out time to nourish your heart and mind. I’ve lived an acute sense of “I’m too busy teaching to take time to get better at teaching!” for all of my homeschooling years. As a mother of six children, I am no stranger to “busy.”

But if my single purpose in growing as a teacher is to become a better teacher, well, then I’ve missed the point of teaching entirely.

The point of growing as a teacher isn’t to teach well, after all. The point of growing as a teacher is to become fully human.

It’s my own humanity I am trying to grow when I seek to become a better guide to my students.

I'm not sure that this can happen without a plan -  not for homeschooling mothers, at least. We're pulled in a hundred different directions at once, and it's so very very hard to set aside time to dive into a classic or plunge into Norms and Nobility.

But I wonder how good of a job we can do at nurturing the beautiful humanity in our children if we are disengaged so thoroughly from our own.

There are many things that matter and that are worth making time for: our prayer lives, nurturing our marriages, spending time lavishly on our kids. All of those are things that matter. But so is reading, discussing, asking questions, and cultivating the intellect; that’s all part of being fully human, and it matters too.

Andrew often reminds us that as teachers we are saying “imitate me,” whether or not we are worthy of imitation, and whether or not we want to be imitated. Cultivating intellectual growth, nurturing our creativity, diving into good books, learning new skills, working refreshment into a busy routine— that is what growth as a teacher looks like. And it’s what will make us worth imitating.

Dr. Christopher Perrin once told me, “When I see moms earnestly seeking, reading, conversing and then acting to recover classical education in their homes and lives, my heart leaps with hope.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Even though we were made to thirst for truth, goodness and beauty, many of us are so overwhelmed we barely take notice of the fact that our souls are parched for those very things. “I can barely keep up with the schedule around here as it is!” we think, in  despair, “How can I possibly add something else?”

When most of the day is centered on keeping everything afloat, it’s easy to lose track of the things that matter most. As a result, we’ve got to be intentional about making time for the first things - the most important things. The art of restful, deep, and meaningful learning (scholé, as Dr. Perrin calls it) is an opportunity to develop a love of learning and cultivate an unquenchable thirst for wonder and curiosity.

When we take the time to nurture our own quest to become more fully human, we demonstrate with our very lives that the world is worth exploring, our minds are worth cultivating, and people are worth loving. We model delight in learning something new, and we demonstrate what it looks like to live fully right in the places we live.

So I’ll make a plan and water my soul this year. My growth as a teacher depends on it. What about you?

Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah Mackenzie is a smitten wife, a homeschooling mama of six (including twins!), and the author of Teaching from Rest: a Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. She writes about books, babies, and heaps of grace at Amongst Lovely Things and serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scholé Sisters, a community for mothers committed to modeling delight, nurturing minds, and ordering loves. 

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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