Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 1-5

3 min read

What I've Learned in 30 Years of Teaching

Apr 21, 2020 9:00 PM

I am now finishing my 30th year of teaching and, wow, how the time has flown! I so clearly remember starting my current job as the “new kid on the block” all those years ago. I remember being overwhelmed with how much I had to learn. From the first day in the classroom, though, I knew that I was right where God wanted me to be, and I knew that I was going to love being there.

As I look back on things that I have learned over the years, there are a few things that stand out. Here are just a couple:

“Catch the kid being good”

One of my graduate school professors from The Ohio State University had this phrase on his wall, and it has stuck with me. It’s so easy as both a parent and a teacher to find all the things a kid does wrong. And it is easy to frustrate and exasperate kids and beat them down so that they feel like they never do anything right.

Kids need lots of encouragement (not just kids…..spouses, coworkers, etc. also!). I have found that kids who are “difficult”--who struggle academically, and/or make frequent bad behavior choices--often feel like failures and are really down on themselves. And I’ve found that they respond really well to having someone find the good in them. This doesn’t mean inventing praise – kids pick up on that right away. But it means being observant enough to find some good in what they do and letting them (and others) know about it.

Sometimes we have to be creative in finding those positive things, but if a child receives regular, sincere encouragement he will be more receptive to correction when it comes. If we made of list of the encouragement and correction we give a child, there needs to be a longer list on the encouragement side.

Lower School Boy

Major on the majors

As one of my former colleagues often said, "You’ve got to decide which hill you are willing to die on." We don’t need to make an issue of everything a kid does wrong. When I became a believer, I had a lot of things in my life that needed correcting. God in His wisdom has been revealing those things to me gradually over the 52 years since then. If He had shown me all that He wanted to change at the beginning, I would have likely given up. Likewise with kids, they don’t need to learn every lesson right now. Maybe we need to let a few things go for now and focus on the things that are most important.

More is “caught” than taught

As a teacher, if I want my students to be excited about learning, excited about the subject matter, eager to pursue learning outside the classroom, then I need to be excited about those things. I believe that students “catch” their teacher’s enthusiasm. They also catch their teacher’s boredom, their teacher’s impatience, and other negative attributes. They are always listening and watching. they may not learn what I want them to learn, but they will learn a lot by just observing me.

This is so true in the spiritual realm as well. I want both my students at school, as well as my own children, to love God, to love His Word, to value the things that are important, and to give themselves to serving and loving others. I can try to teach them about these things, but the real lesson is my example.

These are just a few of the things that stand out to me from my years of teaching and parenting. I’d like to be able to say that I have it all figured out by now, but I am still learning and growing along with the rest of you! 

Ruth Beschta
Written by Ruth Beschta

Ruth taught sixth-grade science and social studies at Worthington Christian School for 32 years. Prior to coming to WC, she taught elementary school in southwest Virginia and coordinated a preschool program called Small Smiles at the YMCA. She and her husband Terry have two adult children. Ruth is passionate about cultivating a love of learning in her students. She wants her students to see the hand of God at work in the universe that He has created and in the history that He has directed, responding by offering up their lives to God. When not teaching or spending time with her seven grandchildren, Ruth enjoys gardening, biking, and cooking.