Struggles faced by public school teachers have recently surfaced (again) through online video. Some teachers have taken to social media to make a case for parental support.
How can churches help? How can churches be salt and light in the community of teaching professionals who live and work in the church’s immediate context?
Here are nine ideas your church can try.
1. Pray for teachers by name. Every school year get the names of every teacher and administrator working in your community. Create a system at church to have every area teacher brought to God in prayer regularly. Send a “You’ve been prayed for this week” note with kids from the church.
2. Build relationships with them. As bad as some schools are, and as bad as some parents are, teachers need strong, positive community relationships. Churches are perfectly suited to address it. Take the time to develop a strategy for supporting area teachers. Churches should not be seen as Ground Zero for public school complaints if they don’t take the initiative for being a positive influence first.
3. Buy classroom supplies for them. All the prayer in the world will not put maps of the world on a classroom wall. In many if not most areas of the country teachers are woefully underpaid for the task they’ve been given: help prepare the next generation of minds to successfully participate in society. Many if not most get little budget money to create a classroom environment conducive to learning. Churches can provide $50 or $100 or more for each teacher for supplies. Or, get a “wish list” from every teacher and make a big deal of delivering the goods on a teacher workday before school starts
4. Host or cater a “Teacher Appreciation” meal. A church I formerly pastored catered meals annually for all the teachers and adminstrators (possibly custodial staff, too) at two area schools. We hired a caterer, delivered the meals to the schools, and sat with the staff as they ate. These meals were very appreciated.
5. Make your student pastor/leader a liaison between the church and the teachers. Let every teacher in your community know your church has a point of contact when a need arises, personal or professional. Make sure the liaison has the authority to handle the need so the teacher doesn’t have to wait on five deacons meetings and a church conference to get help.
6. Give them birthday and Christmas gifts (or gifts appropriate to holidays they celebrate). Find out where they shop and give a gift card. Same with restaurants. It need not be a million dollars; ten or twenty will do. If your child’s teacher celebrates Hanukkah rather than Christmas, don’t force a “Jesus, Joseph and Mary in the manger” on them. Give a gift appropriate to Hanukkah. They’ll be more appreciative, and respect you for honoring their heritage.
7. Affirm them specifically and personally. While “We appreciate all you do” is great, try to be specific. “We appreciate how you take an interest in our child’s interests.” “Thank you for encouraging his curiosity about bugs.” Specificity is a way to affirm what the teacher does well. Even in adults affirmation does wonders. In many cases the very act of affirming runs counter to the norm. Thank them for sticking with a profession
8. Support homeschoolers. Sometimes the best support public school teachers can get is removing some kids from their classroom. If, by the time little Johnny has graduated from elementary school, the parent has had parent/teacher conferences with every one of little Johnny’s teachers, you might consider: the issue may not be the teachers don’t understand little Johnny, but that they perfectly understand him. A few months or a year homeschooling that “precious angel” might reveal whether “fallen” is the category of angel to which he belongs. Churches should be supportive of parents who decide to homeschool (for this or any other reason).
What other ways can churches support teachers? Leave a comment.
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