As a classroom teacher I was highly conscious of time usage, scheduling, setting goals, and taking the steps to meet them. I arrived at school early and stayed late so I could study, plan, prepare. Sometimes I’d be so into that day’s tasks that when the students arrived, they seemed like an interruption.
I remember that during those early years of my teaching career, I considered teachers’ conferences a mixed blessing. I did enjoy the speakers and the restaurants and especially the book table, but it was an awful lot of time away from studying and planning and preparing . . .
Anyway, at one conference, I was privileged to hear the unforgettable Jack Layman, a professor from Columbia International University. He began his talk with a series of questions to ‘wake us up.’ He asked us what’s the longest name in the Bible and who said some obscure quote and other things that sent us on random, amusing thought trails.
Then he said, “Who can name every child in your classroom?”
I and the teachers near me began busily scribbling names from memory. I hoped there was a prize for this one because I had the list down cold, even after only a few weeks of school.
Once we stopped buzzing, Dr. Layman continued, “So what’s the name of every child in your classroom? Jesus Christ. Because the Bible says, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you have done it unto Me.’”
Those words changed my focus and became the touchstone of my teaching.
Dr. Layman opened a door for me that day, and I’ve never regretted where it led.