I am amazed at how fast children can imitate their teachers. I have heard students talking about interactions they had with certain teachers and in their narratives, they used phrases and spoke in tones that near perfectly mirrored the teacher’s way of speaking. Students can imitate their teachers in these deliberate, humorous ways. They can also imitate their teachers in less deliberate ways. I remember “inheriting” students from other classes, after one year or even one period, and witnessing just how deeply the students had internalized the habits and routines set by the previous teacher. It gave me reason to pause and consider what teachers saw in the students they inherited from me.
When I teach, I teach “myself” to my students. That is a humbling, perhaps even frightening, realization. Teaching is always a challenging enterprise. Academically, we strive to teach individuals in ways that meet their personal needs even as they learn communally in schools. Spiritually, teachers give of themselves and so must come to terms with who they really are in deep ways. This is true for teaching everywhere in any school. Education gets at the heart of students and teachers, so teacher education at Redeemer builds character while it also focuses on competency.
“Our goal is to educate teachers who are worth following, worth learning with.”
Within the broader mission and vision of Redeemer, the Department of Education seeks to provide teacher education for faithful, effective, reflective professional practice. We teach from the perspective and faith that there is nothing that can be learned that is not God-breathed. We teach from a perspective that situates us in the biblical story. From this perspective, we focus on what it means to teach, what it means to learn and how to understand and improve our impact on student learning. We teach our candidates to consider how they might align their beliefs with the professional and ethical standards of the teaching profession in Ontario. We do all of this so that our teacher candidates can begin their lives of service in teaching with personal, spiritual and professional integrity.
This morning, there are B.Ed. alumni welcoming their students in public and Catholic schools around the province, in First Nations schools in Pikangikum and Deer Lake, in England, China, Honduras and numerous countries around the world. These teachers came to Redeemer with an awareness of the importance of the integrity of their beliefs and their teaching. They participated in a teacher education program that encouraged this integrity and pushed them to define and refine their skills. Now they teach. Some even teach my own children.
“A leader must be a true follower — in leading, he must follow,” writes Ted Aoki, one of my favourite authors. “But follow what? If he is a leader, he must lead by following that which is true to that which is good in the situation in which he dwells.” Our goal is to educate teachers who are worth following, worth learning with. The Department of Education at Redeemer seeks to do this by following Christ the Redeemer. This is what makes teacher education at Redeemer such a worthwhile and important undertaking and such a genuine blessing to be a part of.