January 26, 2009

Confident Teaching?

Teachers must teach with confidence. We must not only be sure of our subject matter, but expert in relationships, management, and organization (at least in our classrooms). When we speak to our students we must do so authoritatively, while at the same time, maintaining a level of approachability that allows our pupils to view us as both wise and accessible. In addition, we must be consistent in our message not only adhering to our own classroom rules, but more importantly, embodying that which we teach. A confident teacher builds confident students who are prepared to go out into the world.

There are many excellent examples of confident teachers throughout history and I want to use an example from my favorite one.

From Mark 1:21-27 (The Message)

Then they entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. They were surprised at his teaching—so forthright, so confident—not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars.

Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, "What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you're up to! You're the Holy One of God, and you've come to destroy us!"

Jesus shut him up: "Quiet! Get out of him!" The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly—and got out.

Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. "What's going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!" News of this traveled fast and was soon all over Galilee.

Jesus had the benefit of being holy, we can only aspire to such a position. Jesus was a confident teacher because he knew what he taught to be true and presented it to his followers as truth. Jesus did not stumble around with his lecture notes, misspell words written in the dirt, or pause to check his facts. He knew what his message was and he delivered it plainly and clearly. And check out that classroom management! How cool would it be if one of us could tell Johnny Obnoxious to sit down in his seat and be quiet and he actually did it the first time without protest? The whole school would be buzzing over that, no after school detention required.

Jesus lived what he taught. His message was of salvation and he acted appropriately. Our message, whether it be in English, math, history, science, or the electives, is that our subject matter warrants our students attention and that what we teach them they will actually use in their lifetimes. Of course, that means that we need to actually use what we teach in our daily lives. If we are teaching writing, we need to write; if language, we need to speak the language daily. We must teach our students confidently so that they will be confident of what they learn.


  1. Excellent point-- and not only do we need to live what we teach but also live how we teach: with confidence, conviction, passion, and with a belief in the value of what we teach.

  2. "We must not only be sure of our subject matter, but expert in relationships, management, and organization (at least in our classrooms)." LOVE this statement, very well said. And the parallels you made to Jesus' teaching were neat food for thought, thanks. :)

  3. I love the idea of teaching with confidence. Like JK said, that is really a good life theme. I have often said that I'm willing to put myself out there in crazy and silly ways to make a point in my classroom. I think that portraying that kind of confidence and conviction in every aspect of life really reflects the kind of person you truly are and the passion you have. Thanks for that post!

  4. I wonder if it's more like a paradox. Like Jesus, we need to be confident and yet be humble as well. We need to demonstrate justice, while being merciful.

  5. This was a wonderul post. I find new teachers are sometimes lacking in confidence and if their mentors do not help them build it they are more likely to leave the profession after a year or two.

  6. I have never thought of teaching in this way. It makes sense. Jesus was a great confident teacher. What a great comparison. Thank you for making me think.