Modeling, They Say

Modeling, they tell you, is absolutely vital to effective education.

You must model for your students. Model just about everything.

Are you teaching them how to do long division? Do it on the board first; model for them.

Are you teaching them how to use a thesaurus? First, you find a synonym. Model for them.

Are you teaching how to sit on the carpet? How to keep one’s hands to oneself?

How to read the Bible? How to organize a binder? How to love reading?

Do it. Show them. Let them see you.

Model for them. 

They say, all the experts, all the veterans, all the people leading the field, that modeling is what good teachers do.

And I believe that, wholeheartedly.

But what they don’t tell you, what doesn’t come up in the methodology books

and practicum discussions,

is that modeling doesn’t begin when you step to the board, and it doesn’t end when you put the pen down;

modeling never stops.

Every single thing you do in that classroom- every way you speak, every facial expression, every weird little quirk you’re unconscious of- they’re soaking it up.

I know because I read them a book, that jumble of chaotic little wonders.

I read it once, twice.

I read with inflection, with voices, and then that book went back on the shelf.

But days, weeks, even past a month later, I heard those little voices reading that book,

to themselves, to one another,

and with each page, with each exclamation, their inflection mirrored mine,

their tone matched mine.

They heard me, all those long weeks before, and they listened,

and they replicated.

They followed my model.

The way I clap my hands twice when I lean over, ask someone to bring me their untied shoe.

The face I make when I make a mistake and they catch it.

The way I sit. The way I pray, even.

They’re doing- all day long, all year long- what is so very important, so very vital, for learning.

They are following the model, the example, that’s been laid before them.

And today, as I sat in the front-row swivel chair of an education conference,

and I heard modeling, of course, and in that moment,

I heard once more the sound of little voices imitating my own,

reading that silly picture book, over and again,

and I felt again every conviction that I’d ever held

about protecting their hearts

and showing them the best way

and following Christ as far as I might,

just so that they might see,

they might grow,

they might go yet further

than I ever will.



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