Grace is receiving good things without being deserving of them. It is being loved when actually judgment is the deserved outcome (Graham, 2009). As Christians, our faith in God is based on His grace – we received His love, mercy, and salvation, but were completely undeserving of anything good, and did nothing to receive such gifts. Because of God’s great love for us, we are able to accept His gift of salvation and be saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 5:1-2). Holding a Christian worldview, my view of the learner comes from how Jesus views mankind and His calling for us to love others (1 John 4:7). Each student is a unique and special individual because each person was made by God (Psalm 139:13-14), therefore, every student needs to be valued, shown respect and dignity (Fyson, 2014). As Christian teachers, I do believe it is important to show grace to our students and be a living example of grace to our students in a culture and system that demonstrates the opposite (Graham 2009).
Young people are imperfect people like everyone else. They make mistakes, misbehave, and fail us at times, which is part of growing up and developing into adulthood. At times they will not deserve our patience, respect, or even our time, but to value each student regardless of their behaviour, grace is necessary. To maintain positive relationships with our students, they need to know that their worthiness to learn and be cared for does not depend on how they achieve in class (Su, 2013). This is done through showing grace: being quick to forgive when a student does wrong, not holding any grudges, keeping up with positive communication and encouragement, and giving our time to help them when they ask for it even if we are busy. Grace can also be shown in simple ways such as learning and using their names, using humour, being enthusiastic, providing the occasional treat or reward to the whole class to simply bless them, greeting students with a happy attitude and a smile, and making sure we are investing in every student even if they are at a lower academic level or misbehave in class (Van Brummelen, 2009).
Grace definitely has a place in the classroom, as we need to remember that students may be going through some very difficult times in their personal lives or at home that we may not know about, which may be causing them to act up in class, lash out at others, or fail assessments. We as teachers need to be sensitive to what students may be facing and do what we can to show kindness where we can, provide the academic help they require, or even just to give a listening ear. Despite the fact that students may be facing hard times at home, we still need to help them achieve well in school and develop positively as individuals, so we cannot enable them to get away with not doing the work required on a continual basis, but we can approach them respectfully, maintaining their dignity, to discuss the issues (Van Brummelen, 2009). This will show that we do care about them as well as their learning.
Fyson, S. (2014). Serving God in the Classroom: A Handbook for Developing Christian Teaching Practice. New South Wales, Australia: Resolve.
Graham, D. (2009). Teaching redemptively. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design.
Su, F. (2013). The lesson of grace in teaching. Retrieved from http://mathyawp.blogspot.co.nz/2013/01/the-lesson-of-grace-in-teaching.html
Van Brummelen, H. (2009). Walking with God in the classroom: Christian approaches to teaching and learning (3rd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design.