I coached for twelve years before I became a school administrator, and during that part of my career I would attend coaching clinics every summer. I remember an old coach telling me at one point “Everything you hear is not going to be useful to you, and some sessions will be better than others. What you have to do at these things is look for the nuggets. A nugget is one piece of information or strategy that is valuable to you; that you can hang on to and use”. I remember that vividly, and now that I’ve stepped out of the coaching arena, I keep it in mind as I go to educational and administrative conferences.
I picked up one of those nuggets at a Christian teachers’ conference several years ago. I was participating in a round table discussion with secondary math teachers that began with us introducing ourselves and sharing what we teach. We all stated our name, the school where we worked, and said “I teach Algebra 1” or “I teach Calculus” and so on around the table, until we got to a teacher that shared something I’ll never forget. She told us her name and the school she was from, and then said “I teach children. The subject I teach them about is Geometry”.
Her declaration was profound to me because it is foundational to why we are here. We teach children. We teach them about many things, including math, literature, history, and biology – all from the perspective that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is critical, however, for us to remember that the subjects are not our purpose, they are our tools. Equipping the children is our purpose, and the subject matter is a necessary part of what we use to accomplish that purpose.
I was reminded of this recently when Mrs. Pugh told the audience at our Faith Promise Dinner that she teaches children… and the children she teaches are in the first grade. It was a subtle part of her message, but it reminded me of that nugget that convicted and inspired me years ago.