Preparing for the New School Year: Part 3 – Create an Awareness of God
Every teacher going into the new school year desires to have an“ideal classroom.” Years ago, I took a course at the University of Wisconsin in Madison titled “Designing the Ideal Classroom.” The focus of the course was on the physical design of the room, including the visual and acoustical properties, as well as supporting mechanical systems. We studied the arrangement of furniture to facilitate the interaction of students, the creation of interests centers, music centers, reading corners, listening centers, quiet study areas, and the best use of creative decor that would inspire learning and cause students to feel good to be at school. It is interesting that during the pandemic, much of this didn’t matter since most teaching and learning were taking place from and in the home. Yet, teachers continued to teach and students continued to learn.
What type of classroom is needed to facilitate Spirit-directed education?” Although having an inviting physical environment along with all the resources necessary to stimulate and encourage learning is nice, none of these are essential in establishing a Spirit-directed classroom.
In Part 1, we shared the number one ingredient for this type of classroom – a spirit-filled teacher who goes beyond consecration and dedication and seeks to allow the Holy Spirit to work through them. In Part 2, we learned that the classroom environment must be one where the teacher creates a willingness to go beyond the expected and is able to establish a climate of change.
In this post, we find out that establishing a Spirit-directed classroom requires the teacher to create in the classroom an awareness of God. Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt very close to God? Like He was right there beside you. Maybe it was in a church service, a prayer meeting, during praise and worship, driving down the road, walking through a forest, or flying in a plane; a place where you sensed the presence of God! Most of us can recall such an experience.
The question is, “How often is His presence felt in your classroom?” Do you and your students sense the presence of God? There are certain classrooms that I have walked in and as soon as I stepped into the classroom, I could sense the presence of God. Would you like to sense the presence of God in your classrooms daily? Let’s consider four actions you can take to bring this about.
First, create an understanding that God is everywhere. David wrote, “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there.” (Ps. 139:8, KJV)
Creating an understanding is a simple task of discussion where students are brought to a point where they see God as the ultimate designer of creation. In Science when they see the plants grow, the sunrise and sunset, the tides roll in and out, the giant redwood trees, magnificent waterfalls, or whether they follow an ant, watch the birds fly, or study the molecule, students will realize that God is everywhere. Whether it is History, Math, Geography, or the Arts, a true Christian World view is one where God is seen in everything. He is omnipresent.
You must point these attributes out to your students. Through observation and discussion, students will find God in everything; and, when they find that He is in everything, they will find Him everywhere.
Once God is seen in everything and is everywhere, it is simply a matter of acknowledging the presence of God—not just in Bible classes, chapels, prayer time, or during praise and worship. When someone is sinning, God is there. If a student is doing something contrary to your classroom code of conduct, God is there. Teach your students to understand that they cannot hide from God. He is in every classroom, hallway, and office, on the basketball court, soccer, baseball, and football fields, and when the volleyball team takes the court or the band participates in a contest, or drama class does a production.
If God were seated in one of your student desks or your chair, would He be noticed? Sometimes, placing an empty chair in a corner of the classroom is a good reminder to students that God is there – not seen, but present, nonetheless.
Once an understanding that God is everywhere, you can work on increasing your student’s level of awareness of God’s presence. Just as a young child increases their level of spatial and temporal awareness and expanding field of detail, as students mature in Christ, their awareness of God should be increasing. One method of increasing this awareness is through “practicing the awareness of the teacher.” Simply have your students close their eyes as you very quietly walk to different locations in your classroom. Then, have them open their eyes to see where you are. Say to them, “Although you cannot see God in the classroom, He is everywhere. He is watching you and even knows what you are thinking.”
Since very few individuals have experienced God or Jesus revealing Himself in physical form, tell your students that it takes an act of faith to realize that a person is present when one cannot see or touch that person. Matt. 18:20 (NIV) says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Your classroom is certainly a place where individuals are gathered in His Name, thus, He is there. Acknowledge His presence at the beginning of each day or class period.
Next, create an awareness of God by providing opportunities for students to draw closer to God. James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”(KJV) And, in Hebrews 10: 22 we read, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (NIV)
A good time to begin this process is during the prayer time at the opening of every day. In middle and high school, this can be done at the start of each classroom period. Likewise, playing worship music as students enter the school building or classroom is a good practice to start.
Creating an atmosphere of praise and worship helps students draw closer to God. Set aside three to five minutes at the start of every day to acknowledge His presence. If you have not been allowing opportunities for students to draw closer to God, as you plan for this new school year, ask Him to give you a creative idea on how this might be carried out in your classroom.
In our next post, we will share the importance of establishing an orderly environment as you prepare for having a Spirit-directed classroom.