Skip to main content

Thank a Teacher

We sat in the airport terminal waiting to board our flight.  John and I snagged empty seats beside two super tall young men.  It didn't take us long to figure out that they were part of a university basketball team.  The guy to John's right had on his headphones and was in his own little world.  The guy to the left of me was reading a book.  Google has helped me identify the title of the book as Eleven Rings:  The Soul of Success, but I didn't know that at the time.  The player reading the book was really enjoying it.  He came across a line that he really liked and read it to the coach who was sitting to his left and then again to some of the other players.  I heard the line so many times I had it memorized:  "Coaching the Lakers was like having a wild, tempestuous fling with a beautiful woman."  I can't tell you why he liked that sentence so much, but he sure did!

Soon another player came over and perched up on the window sill behind the coach.  "Do you have a word for me today, Coach?"  He and the coach spoke quietly together for awhile and I don't know what the coach told him.  Then Book-Reader read the line to the 2nd player, "Coaching the Lakers was like having a wild, tempestuous fling with a beautiful woman."  Then the coach took the book from him and said to Player #2, "What part of speech is wild?"  He took a few guesses at it and finally identified it as an adjective.  "What part of speech is tempestuous?" the coach continued with him.  Again Player #2 eventually settled on it being an adjective.  The coach then asked him to identify what part of speech "fling" is.  He quickly said it is a verb.  "Yes," said the coach, "fling can be a verb.  But in this case what part of speech is it?"  Player #2 was really stuck on it being a verb.  "Well, said the coach, what is he flinging?"  

Meanwhile, Book-Reader wanted his book back.  "No," said Player #2, "when I start something I want to finish it.  Let me figure this out."  About then our flight was called and I don't know if Book-Reader ever got his book back or if Player #2 ever figured out that fling can also be a noun.

Reading this, your first thought probably is, "Poor kid!  He got into university without knowing the basic parts of speech.  What a rotten education.  What a typical jock."  Maybe that's all true, but I was very impressed with the coach!  He had such a good rapport with the guys on his team.  But more than that, playing university basketball obviously isn't just a sport to win for him; it also involves getting an education.  And sometimes getting an education means making up for a years of a poor education.  The coach obviously knew this player needed to learn parts of speech.  He took a sentence that they all enjoyed from a book about basketball, so the subject matter was important to him.  And he turned it into a teachable moment.  He was infinitely patient and kept on in a firm but gentle and often humorous manner.

I have no idea what learning situation this kid had grown up in.  I do know that with the right teacher, he was willing to learn and to make up for what he didn't get in high school.  
This coach is my hero even though I don't know his name.  Movies are made about coaches like this guy, but he'll probably never be famous.  Day after day he makes sure his guys can play ball, but also that they can read books.  He takes teachable moments and uses them to help his players.  He has a passion for education that he passes on to his team.

School after school has teachers like him, teachers who are unknown heroes.  They take an individual interest in their students.  They use teaching methods that involve the students in things that excite them.  They are creative and innovative.  They give kids a love for learning.

Speaking of teachers who work hard day after day, but who will probably never be famous....  In Niger we have a team of three missionaries who are working with Nigerien teachers to help them learn better teaching methods.  The Nigerien teachers they work with have 40 - 80 kids in their class in a country whose literacy rate is 59.6% (and if you separate male from female, it's much lower for females).  They are learning how to use local materials to make teaching games.  They are passionate about moving from teaching by rote to involving the kids.  Please take a minute to hop over to my friend Lucia's blog:  Bringing the Gospel Through Christian Education in Niger and read her latest post.  

If you have been blessed by a special teacher in your life, make sure to thank them.  If you have had the privilege of going to a good school with teachers who care, consider supporting the Christian Education Project  (Project #097422-091). 
If you are a talented, dedicated teacher, considering applying with SIM to join us in Niger as a teacher of either Third Culture Kids or of teachers who are teaching Nigerien kids (the second option requires a good level of French).


Beth said…
Thanks, Teach! You were definitely one of my favorites growing up and continue to be a source of encouragement to me, Nancy! :)

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  

I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Graduation Season

It's the season for graduations!  Yesterday I attended two graduations.  Thankfully one was in the morning and one was in the evening.  There were differences and similarities.  

The morning graduation was at the flight controller and meteorologist training school.  Six of the graduates attended our Bible study regularly and a seventh came occasionally.  We grew to dearly love this group.  

The evening ceremony was at our MK school and all of the graduates this year were missionary kids and one pastor's kids; the majority of the missionary kids were from our mission.  So I've known most of these kids since they were little. 

The similarities were:
1.  Both groups were fairly small (30 for the flight controller school and 13 for our mission school).  Both groups were very close to each other; at the flight controller school they have all classes together and live in dorms together for 14 months with only a few days off and no real vacations; at the mission school the kids have …

Beyond Our Ability to Endure

I've been working on our home assignment audio-visual presentation.  It's been a lot of work, especially since it requires sorting through hundreds of pictures to choose the ones we want to use.  I was hoping to put together something that would be really "Wow!"  Well, in the end it's just a power point with some music and a few slides coming in with a fancy spin.  But it's our story, and our story is nothing more than God's story when it comes right down to it.  In fact, I have used Big Daddy Weave's song, My Story in part of the presentation.  If you're not familiar with the song, you can listen to it here
As I looked over the past four years of this term there were days that we felt we had reached our ability to endure.  We started the term in July 2013 and we were still recovering from the flood of 2012.  We have all of our "normal" stresses such as living in an extremely hot climate, living in the poorest country of the world, livi…