This summer, I conducted a pilot research study of graduates from my university to examine how Christian teachers’ faith impacts their collaboration with parents. As I waited for the surveys to be returned to me, I imagined all of the great activities the teachers would report as doing in order to effectively partner with families. Sadly, I was disappointed, and the survey respondents’ reactions to school-family collaboration did not sound different than the responses of any other teacher. The teachers complained about
parents and judged parents.
As I looked at the survey responses, my heart broke a little. I didn’t like what I saw. I wanted the responses to be different. I wanted Christian teachers to look vastly different from other teachers in their interactions with other people. But, they didn’t. Their responses were indistinguishable from those of any other teachers.
The only thing I knew to do at that point was to pray. And, after a few weeks of prayer and reflection, I realized something. All students, in every school and at all age levels, need their teachers to meet them where they are. I’ve always known that was the case for academic and behavior skills – we must meet students where they are. This summer, though, I realized that this same reality exists for their faith – we, as faith-based teachers, must meet our students exactly where they are. They will grow in their faith and in their ability to integrate their faith into other aspects of their lives, including their careers. But, many of them will only learn to do so if we meet them where they are in their faith and intentionally teach them and help them grow. We must meet students exactly where they are in all areas – learning, behavior, and faith. Doing so will help to ensure that we are effective educators in faith-based environments.
Dr. Marla J. Lohmann is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Colorado Christian University. She can be contacted at MLohmann@ccu.edu.