The Diocese of Leeds has clearly stated that it considers education to be at the heart of the Diocese. By this we mean a whole range of opportunities to learn and to grow so that we might live totally fulfilled lives in the service of God and to have life in abundance. This includes, as a start: compulsory schooling, Further and Higher Education, life-long learning, professional and personal development programmes, nurturing our faith through study and training, discipleship courses etc.
In most, if not all of these contexts, a teacher, a lecturer, a trainer, a coach, a mentor or facilitator will have spent time preparing the learning opportunity so that you can achieve the maximum benefit from the experience. In declaring that education is at the heart of the Diocese we are also saying that those who lead or facilitate the process of learning are essential to that mission too. Our teachers are engaged in God’s transforming mission and as such we would understand them to be fulfilling their vocation or calling.
If you’ve not considered that teaching could be a vocation – and that you might be being called to it – read on and visit the website ‘Transforming Lives’ which is the repository of an 8 year project exploring just that: that teaching can be a vocation. If you’re already a teacher, in whatever context, have you considered how God is using you in your context? Do you need some ‘words’ to help articulate how your career is a vocation and part of God’s missional activity? If you do, you might want to explore the website too.
Here are a few headlines and quotes:
The ‘transforming lives’ project, which ran from 2004 – 2012, explored the whole notion of teaching as a Christian vocation.
As it states on its website the project worked to achieve three objectives:
To encourage more Christians to become teachers.
To support Christian teachers currently in post.
To encourage churches to support Christian teachers in their important ministry in school.
If you are interested in exploring teaching as a vocation it might help to think through the implications. Visit the website – you will find it challenging and informative. Or you might already be teaching and just want to explore in a more profound and theological way how to articulate your calling or vocation to teach - the website will also resource you.
Here are a few headlines for those thinking about teaching as a vocation:
“To have a vocation is to be passionate. It means caring so much about something that you want to make a difference. It entails having a vision for how things could be different. It makes you buzz inside when you think or talk about it. Having a vocation is not about feeling a sense of obligation, "I ought to do something about this"; instead it is caring so much that you want to get involved. We could describe a vocation as a passion that God has built into your DNA. For some people it is flying a plane, for others it is healing people who are ill. For teachers it is the thrill of helping people to learn.”
“All Christians have one primary calling; to be faithful in our relationship with God. We should seek to fulfil this in every area of our life: in our home, our church, our work and our leisure. We also have many secondary callings, one of which is our career. It is increasingly rare for anyone to have one career for all their life. We may well find ourselves doing many different jobs over forty years or so. Each one is an opportunity to fulfil our primary calling of being faithful to God. When asking if teaching might be one of our secondary callings, we need to consider whether our 'vocation' and our 'talents' fit with teaching.”
“Each of us has been gifted with a profile of talents. Being faithful to God means using these to the full as opportunities arise. To make the right choice of career you need to think carefully about two things:
Firstly, you must understand yourself. You need to know the skills and abilities that you have. It is very important to be honest with yourself about this - you will probably need other people to help you. Take time to talk to God and your family, your friends, your teachers - anyone who knows you well. Get them to tell you what you are good at.
Secondly, you must understand what teaching is all about. What sort of person makes a good teacher? Yes, you have to develop skills in planning lessons, teaching, classroom management and marking. But you don't want to start a teacher training course and discover that you aren't the right sort of person for the job.”
If you do feel that you are being called to teach, spend some time exploring the vocation. See if you can spend time in a school. Speak to teachers. Listen to others involved in the world of education and schooling, like school governors. In today’s world of schools, governors play a significant part in running schools and will have a realistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities. We need more committed and high quality people to join the profession. You could be one of them.