By Yay Olmedo-Padua

A new school year begins. A great time for teachers to take stock of their role even before they start a roll call.

I’m currently off-term from university teaching for what we seniors call apo-stolic mission elsewhere. So I miss teaching. I miss my students.

After almost three decades of surviving shark-infested corporate oceans, I later found myself teaching. I love being in the company of young people―a brazen and center-of-the universe bunch who are nonetheless clueless of what awaits them outside of home and school.

Copyright (c) 2008 DreamWorks Animation

Copyright (c) 2008 DreamWorks Animation

A teacher always asks himself these questions:

  • Did I cover all relevant topics?
  • Are my teaching techniques effective so that my students get engaged and don’t turn comatose while in class?
  • Are they really getting it?
  • And most important of all, will they value those lessons?

A teacher’s greatest desire? That whatever lessons you’ve taught get firmly rooted in a student’s psyche long after he’d shed his toga.

Pastor Robert Hern of Victory Church San Diego in last Sunday’s preaching opened my eyes to the scarier aspect of teaching.

He spoke of a time when teachers were sought after by their students—just like Po (Kung Fu Panda movie) submitting to the mentorship of kung fu master Shi Fu.

In those days, a teacher refused those whom he felt were unworthy of his time―yes, just like Shi Fu refusing to train Po because he was hopelessly clumsy and didn’t in any way look like a fighter. A mentee’s greatest desire was to be like the master himself.

So teaching was not just about theories.  It was about discipling someone willing enough to become his mentor’s clone or me-too.

This picture of a teacher should make each of us in the academe treat our calling with trepidation.

Am I really qualified? Will my life―knowledge plus character―make a difference in my student’s life?

The best teacher comes to mind. Unlike the teachers of yore, Jesus sought out his disciples. Moreover, he called the unqualified: fishermen like Simon and Andrew for example. “Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people,” Matthew 4:19.

Jesus practically lived with his interns, had one-on-one and team huddles and prayers with them. And He never refused any one who came to Him for help or wisdom. The new testament referred to Jesus as “teacher” 45 times.

What He taught, he demonstrated. He healed the sick, raised the dead, multiplied provisions, and challenged traditional wisdom. And He was not afraid to speak the truth. He demonstrated the real meaning of love by dying even for the unlovable.

He taught them too that like Him, they could do what He did, and even greater.

John 14:12―”Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

This gives me confidence―Jesus being my teacher and my Lord―that I could make a difference in the life of my students.