Faculty book aims to inspire student teachers
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
As student teachers at Grand Canyon University prepare their classrooms for the new year, the College of Education also is preparing them with insightful and spiritual reflections about teaching that aim to encourage and inspire them.
The 48-page book, which includes passages on dealing with conflict, having students with different behaviors and acknowledging the isolation that can creep into a teacher’s life, is called “Living Your Purpose: A Devotional for Educators” and brings together an inspiring array of true-to-life stories and Bible verses to provide teachers with daily spiritual nourishment. Each one begins with a relevant Scripture passage, followed by a story and experience, and concludes with a reflection question.
The idea, was to continue creating “learners, leaders and servants,” said Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, Executive Director of Educational Outreach.
“I think this collaboration of administrators, staff, full-time faculty and alumni models what we expect all of our future graduates and students to be able to do, which is to be unified and to create a product that impacts people’s lives,” she said.
In “Treat All Students with Respect,” Gilpatrick reminds teachers to carefully monitor their behavior and interactions with all students.
Speaking of a previous experience with a student with challenging behavior, Gilpatrick writes: “I treated her with all the fruits of the Spirit I could – love, patience, kindness and gentleness. When that occurred, Melissa totally transformed her approach in my classroom.”
“Students come with all kinds of experiences to classrooms,” Gilpatrick said, “so being able to read about veteran or seasoned teachers who have gone through various experiences will help these student teachers realize that they can get through teaching. This is a blueprint on how to make it work so that they can self-advocate and make a difference in someone else’s life.”
She added, “I believe that kids can learn if you are kind to them and if you respect them. They will rise to the challenge no matter where they are coming from or what their background is, as long as you validate them. I would hope that students would not have challenging experiences, but I think my story shows that through resilience and perseverance there will ultimately be winning moments.”
In “Comprehensible Input Matters,” Dr. Lisa Bernier refers to the biblical passage of Nehemiah, in which Nehemia and other Israelites work to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, immediately followed by Ezra’s reading of the law.
“The Bible says they got men, women, children and anyone who could understand and they sat them in groups of 50,” said Bernier. “Ezra assigned people to be teachers of these small groups to make sure they understood what God’s word said because it was that important to God. It wasn’t enough to just say it once. As teachers, we get students from all nations and backgrounds, and it is important that what we are teaching is comprehensible to them.”
She added, “I hope our students see that God is in everything and that He has called them out to be teachers. He is the ultimate teacher, and so His word is applicable to them as teachers.”
In the story “In His League,” Paul Danuser recognizes that teaching is a special calling. While having grown up with a passion for baseball and dreaming to become a major league baseball player, Danuser realized he wanted to be a teacher when he heard an “odd” voice calling him to teach in college.
Danuser referred to a scene in the iconic baseball film, “Field of Dreams,” where in the movie (just like in real life) “Moonlight” Graham played in only one MLB game and never got a chance to come to the plate. Once his baseball career was over, he became a doctor.
In the film, when main character John Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) tells Graham (played by Burt Lancaster) that it was a tragedy he only got to be a baseball player for one inning, Graham responds, “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes, now that would have been a tragedy.”
It is in that moment that the character reveals that his dream is medicine, not sports – and a moment that Danuser thinks about at the start of each school year, he said.
“If I had been a major league baseball player, I would not have the 6,000 students that I’ve had. I wouldn’t have had the chance to be ‘Professor D.’ I’m glad it worked out this way.”
Gilpatrick added, “Everybody thinks that teachers are experts in education, but really, teaching has an art and science behind it. Teaching is also the only profession that teaches all other professions … we teach future engineers, physicians, lawyers, journalists … and that’s really gratifying. We get to have a small part in how they are going to serve their community.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]