How to be a loving teacher: lessons from Mom

May 8, 2016 , In: TEACH, THANKS

A lot is written about being a better teacher or being a happy one. Both are good aims but today I want to share lessons on how to be a loving teacher from a woman with 42 years of experience. She did not graduate with a degree in teaching but her qualifications are even better.

My Mom gave birth to eleven babies. I’m number eleven.

Yes, my Mom is amazing.

But never have I declared her to be ‘the best Mom in the world’. Perhaps because even from a young age, I’ve always been a diplomat not prone to superlatives.

Seriously, I believe it had more to do with how my Mom and Dad raised me.

In honour of my Mom this Mother’s Day, let me count the ways she has prepared me to be a loving teacher and, one day, to be the Mum I pray I can become…

  1. She let us shine.

I never learnt to declare her as the best Mom ever because she never made a fuss of herself or of the sacrifices she made daily.

Mom never drew attention to herself but instead she listened to each of her children, saw our strengths and encouraged us in our passions.

In allowing us to shine, she never put pressure on us. She never pushed me to study or work harder. In fact, she did the opposite. I would get annoyed when she would repeatedly tell me to go to bed whilst I was still doing schoolwork.

One of the first wise words I learnt as a teacher was to give students many opportunities to take the spotlight in class, to not talk too much and allow the students to shine. It was Narelle Sketcher, then Director of Christian Foundations in my school, who said it in 2013.

But I’ve seen my Mom live it out all my life.

She was my first example of a loving teacher.

  1. She let us fight our own battles.

I can’t say I shared a lot about my skirmishes in school but I know a couple of siblings who often did.

I was there and I would listen. Mom’s peaceful demeanor always amazed me.

The stories from a brother or sister might be full of emotions, but she would remain calm, even giggle here and there but often Mom would just say to let it go, to forgive.

I’m sure she would’ve been praying through all our dramas but I appreciate that she let us work through our own problems, allowing us to grow up in the process.

As a teacher of eight to ten year-olds, when to step in is something I’m still learning to discern. Ensuring my students’ safety and well-being is part of the job but arbitrating every conflict isn’t.

Growing up includes learning to deal with disagreements. How do we teach this?

Mom listened, preached peace, then took a step back.

Now that’s a loving teacher.

  1. She told us off.

Mom’s reprimands were the worst. It shakes you up when one of the calmest people in your life speaks to you firmly with that look of utter dismay.

When I was disrespectful to my sister, my Mom was quick to scold me.

‘Tumatanda kang paurong’ were my least favourite words.

A direct translation reads, ‘You are growing up backwards.’ It meant that I was acting like a rude kid. As a teenager who thought I was mature beyond my years, it was hard to accept but well-deserved.

True love sometimes means telling someone off, for their own good.

  1. She told us as it is.

Mom also told us things as they were.

I remember whenever my Kuya (big brother) Redz and I went shopping with her and we wanted something, we were never demanding brats. In fact, we would always prelude our request with, ‘Mom, when we have the money, can you please buy me this…’

We weren’t taught to say those words exactly but because Mom always explained things like money to us, we knew resources were limited. And because we knew her, we knew we could ask even if we don’t get it straight away. Some things we never could afford. But sometimes, it was enough to hear that if she could, Mom would’ve bought it for us.

Explaining circumstances to students help them understand and even obey. When you do this often, you might be surprised that sometimes, saying ‘because I said so’ can be enough… because they know if you could, you would’ve explained it to them already.

A loving teacher helps students mature.

  1. She led us to her source of love.

How do you keep giving day in and day out? How do you keep showing love to a multitude of children?

Dad would get very cross at us if we ever show even a hint of disrespect towards Mom. He would defend her. We would shiver.

As much as Dad loved and supported Mom, I do know that he wasn’t her unending source of love.

How do you keep pouring love day in and day out?

Mom showed us that the King of the Universe – the God of the Bible – was the one always filling her up with His ‘never-stopping, never-giving up, always and forever love’.

Mom started her mornings by praying and reading the Bible. She still does so to this day, her 71st year.

As a teacher, there are days when I feel there is nothing left to give. But I’m reminded that this often happens when I’ve failed to receive… to receive the grace and love so freely offered by my Lord Jesus.

A loving teacher knows who to rely on.

Thank you, Mommy, for leading us to the source of your superpowers.

You are the best Mom in the world.

Mom and Me

How to be a loving teacher


Head onto Doodle Bugs Teaching for other teachers’ Friday stories.

Questions and comments

  1. Reply

    Number 2 is so important.. I’m still working on when to step in and when not to. What a great post!

    • Reply

      Thanks very much, Caitlin! It’s hard, isn’t it? We have to weigh the gravity of the issues presented, investigate the layers of the problem and sometimes listen to opposing versions. Would love to hear more about how you’re travelling with this in the future. :)

    • Jill
    • June 11, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! The only way I get through crazy days is to pray!

  2. Reply

    What a beautifully written post. :)

  3. Reply

    I really love reading your posts. I think #3 and #4 are very important to keep in mind. I always try to explain my actions to my students in a way they will understand, and I am a firm believer that if you are doing something wrong, you should be told…it helps one grow as a person!

    • Reply

      Your words are much appreciated, Marianna! Yep – tough love is good for growing up ☺️

    • menchierojas
    • May 8, 2016

    Thanks Rachel, youngest child of mine, for the kind words, for some glimpse of the past which I try to reminisce and remember with gladness of heart. I will never be the perfect mother any child dream of, tried I may, what with all the flaws ingrained in my well being. It is only by God’s grace that I was able to do what ought to be done as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. I thank God for your Dad and for you all, my family. To God be the glory!

Rachel Herweynen

Teaching Principal

Alive because of Jesus. My husband Cameron and I have the privilege of living and working in a remote indigenous community, our home, Gäwa on Elcho Island, Australia. What a joy to not only be principal and teacher but also granddaughter, mother, aunty, child and mother-in-law. Above all, always daughter of the King.

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