An Epistle to the Elder (Teacher)
Throughout history, Pastors have written letters to members of the Christian Church regarding issues they face in particular. (Think about Philippians, Galatians, etc.) These epistles were letters written to address certain issues that had arisen over the church’s existence. They were written to a particular group of people during a particular time, but since nothing is new under the sun, the wisdom packed into those letters are still applicable and relevant to modern existence.
This Epistle to the Elder Teacher is designed with one goal in mind: To encourage.
I have the tremendous benefit of working with people who have taught longer than I’ve been alive. Google wasn’t invented yet and I’m pretty sure the TV’s were still strapped to rolling carts with VCRs. From what I hear, it was a golden age in Education.
…ok, maybe not the Golden age, but definitely not what it is today.
The realization that things have changed, deserves not only our attention, but our pause.
Let us imagine the seat of this elder teacher. They exist with confidence after having successfully taught thousands of students how to engage and master a skill. Yet, that confidence is questioned when a new tool is highly encouraged to be adopted. I’m reminded of a nurse who worked with my wife, and was truly one of the only nurses in the building who could keep the hospital going if the power went out. She decided to retire after the hospital switched to its fifth charting software. Learning a new way of being for us youngins is not intimidating…yet.
It is the word “yet” that should cause us pause and cause us caution, for we will all one day be in the position where we are the elder and we may not be respected for the wisdom and experience we embody.
So what are we to do?
Elders, you must continue on and not be discouraged. You’ve seen this scene before. You’ve watched a “new development” be implemented just like this one before, and you’ve also seen it go out the window. How can you continue with amazing teaching practices, while stretching yourself enough to understand the new tool and apply it to your current pedagogical methods?
Elders, you must mentor another teacher. Pray diligently that God send you a match, one who needs exactly what you have, and pour into that student, who will in turn pour into their students. This should feel like it flows from you, for at your core, you are a teacher and unfortunately, we live in a world where our culture does not always value wisdom. It is my prayer that your pouring will also mean you are poured int.
Elders, you must remember that the Golden Era is probably an over-exaggeration of how it really was. Yes, the kids are different. They don’t respect you simply because you’re their teacher. This generation will love you and respect you after you prove to them that you love them. Love may be a new word to have to think about in the front of your mind. Yes, you are used to respect, but what does it look like to love the modern student? I suspect you’ve been here before, and if you’re willing to get over the hump of no more automatic respect, I think your stress may decrease, and your passion increase.
Elder, do not give up. We need you. We need to respect you more and we need to lift you up. Why? You’re the only person that can keep the school running, if the power goes out.