Example #82 Grammar and Encouragement

What if a grammar lesson were also about affirming each other?

Nat wanted to use her literacy lesson on complex sentence structures to give her class the opportunity to encourage and affirm each other.

"I taught complex sentence structure in the usual way but the demonstration examples I used at the beginning were positive about members of the class:

James, who is a good footballer, regularly helps clear up.
Shanta, who has a lovely smile, brightens up the classroom.

"I asked the pupils if they noticed anything about the content of the sentences I used. I paired students by putting names in a hat, then I asked them to write their own affirming complex sentences in order to build each other up. The sentences were created using the same skills as previously taught but this time we thought about each other’s strengths. I asked students to focus on real strengths and ways in which each person contributed to the community, not just on superficial compliments. We talked about the difference between loving encouragement and flattery. When we knew what we wanted to say, we used our new skills to create complex sentences about that person.

"I gave the students a blank folded card in which to write their sentences. I wrote my sentence in a card for another member of staff.

"We did some more practise using standard complex sentences, then we took a few moments at the end of the lesson to decorate our cards and deliver them. A child delivered my card to a member of staff."

What’s going on here?

Nat saw her literacy lesson as a place to encourage students to affirm each other.

She engaged students in focus with empathy on the way sentences affected other people, not just their form, and in using their skills to encourage others.

Nat reshaped her practice by choosing her examples carefully, making connections between language learning and values (encouragement), creating an opportunity for students to apply the key idea (making cards), and shaping interactions (working in pairs). She also modelled what she taught (made a card herself).

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Nat was helping students to focus on others and offer them encouragement. Encouragement involves awareness of others and offering praise, comfort and support. Selfishness can blight the development of encouragement as we often view love and praise as finite commodities, as if there is only so much to go round: if you get love or praise, will there be enough for me?

What difference does it make?

This lesson could contribute to changing children's focus from themselves to others as they have to be aware of others in order to offer encouragement. It also sought to strengthen their sense of worth through receiving love from others. Nat's lesson also told a different story about relationships; she began to challenge the mindset that sees praise, love and similar experiences as rationed commodities.

Where could we go from here?

Nat went further with encouragement. Each student in the class had a pocket with their name on, which was displayed on the class ‘Encouragement Board’. At the end of the day any student who wished to encourage another class member with something they had noticed during the day, could record this on a star and place it in that pupil’s name pocket: "I really liked it when you cheered me up when I fell over in the playground today." Nat checked to make sure that certain students did not go too long without receiving anything, adding comments such as: "I thought you tried really hard in art even though you found it hard."

Digging deeper

God is called the ‘God of all encouragement’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). St Paul called on people to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Encouragement means focusing on others and being unselfish in praise. Often what people do and are goes unnoticed; people who exercise a ministry of encouragement make a point of noticing. Barnabas in the New Testament was called ‘Son of Encouragement’ (Acts 4:36; Acts 11:23) as he encouraged others.
One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. … It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word. William Barclay
Encouragement can be exhorting others to be and to do what is right. It can involve helping others and comforting in times of suffering and distress. The Bible talks of weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). The Bible recognises that we all need regular encouragement and a sense that we are valued by others, and this is something we can do for each other (Hebrews 3:13). Christians draw encouragement from God, not just from each other (1 Samuel 30:6) and one name for the Holy Spirit is ‘the comforter’ (John 14:16), the God who comforts and encourages.

Explore similar examples:

What if a literature class helped students to think about choices?
What if perseverance were acknowledged, not just perfection?
What if a grammar lesson challenged selfishness?
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1From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Timothy, who is also a follower. To God's church in Corinth and to all God's people in Achaia. 2I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace! Paul gives thanks 3Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. 4He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. 5We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives. 6We suffer in the hope that you will be comforted and saved. And because we are comforted, you will also be comforted, as you patiently endure suffering like ours. 7You never disappoint us. You suffered as much as we did, and we know that you will be comforted as we were. 8My friends, I want you to know what a hard time we had in Asia. Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain. 9In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. 10God saved us from the threat of death, and we are sure that he will do it again and again. 11Please help us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks for the blessings we receive in answer to all these prayers. Paul's change of plans 12We can be proud of our clear conscience. We have always lived honestly and sincerely, especially when we were with you. And we were guided by God's wonderful kindness instead of by the wisdom of this world. 13I am not writing anything you cannot read and understand. I hope you will understand it completely, 14just as you already partly understand us. Then when our Lord Jesus returns, you can be as proud of us as we are of you. 15I was so sure of your pride in us that I had planned to visit you first of all. In this way you would have the blessing of two visits from me. 16Once on my way to Macedonia and again on my return from there. Then you could send me on to Judea. 17Do you think I couldn't make up my mind about what to do? Or do I seem like someone who says Yes or No simply to please others? 18God can be trusted, and so can I, when I say that our answer to you has always been Yes and never No. 19This is because Jesus Christ the Son of God is always Yes and never No. And he is the one that Silas, Timothy, and I told you about. 20Christ says Yes to all of God's promises. That's why we have Christ to say Amen for us to the glory of God. 21And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us 22and put his Spirit in our hearts to show that we belong only to him. 23God is my witness that I stayed away from Corinth, just to keep from being hard on you. 24We are not bosses who tell you what to believe. We are working with you to make you glad, because your faith is strong.
1I don't need to write to you about the time or date when all this will happen. 2You know that the Lord's return will be as a thief coming at night. 3People will think they are safe and secure. But destruction will suddenly strike them like the pains of a woman about to give birth. And they won't escape. 4My dear friends, you don't live in darkness, and so that day won't surprise you like a thief. 5You belong to the light and live in the day. We don't live in the night or belong to the dark. 6Others may sleep, but we should stay awake and be alert. 7People sleep during the night, and some even get drunk. 8But we belong to the day. So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armour. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet. 9God doesn't intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. 11That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing. 12My friends, we ask you to be thoughtful of your leaders who work hard and tell you how to live for the Lord. 13Show them great respect and love because of their work. Try to get along with each other. 14My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn't living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone. 15Don't be hateful to people, just because they are hateful to you. Rather, be good to each other and to everyone else. 16Always be joyful 17and never stop praying. 18Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 19Don't turn away God's Spirit 20or ignore prophecies. 21Put everything to the test. Accept what is good 22and don't have anything to do with evil. 23I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 24The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this. 25Friends, please pray for us. 26Give the Lord's followers a warm greeting. 27In the name of the Lord I beg you to read this letter to all his followers. 28I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you!
1The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord. 5The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest's family. 7They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, By what power and in whose name have you done this? 8Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders: 9You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone. 13The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles. 15The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn't happen. 17But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus. 18So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus. 19Peter and John answered, Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard. 21The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened. Peter and others pray for courage 23As soon as Peter and John had been set free, they went back and told the others everything that the chief priests and the leaders had said to them. 24When the rest of the Lord's followers heard this, they prayed together and said: Master, you created heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25And by the Holy Spirit you spoke to our ancestor David. He was your servant, and you told him to say: Why are all the Gentiles so furious? Why do people make foolish plans? 26The kings of earth prepare for war, and the rulers join together against the Lord and his Messiah. 27Here in Jerusalem, Herod and Pontius Pilate got together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Then they turned against your holy Servant Jesus, your chosen Messiah. 28They did what you in your power and wisdom had already decided would happen. 29Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30Show your mighty power, as we heal people and perform miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus. 31After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God's message. Sharing possessions 32The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. 33In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, 34and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money 35to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone who needed it. 36Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means one who encourages others. Peter condemns Ananias and Sapphira
1The apostles and the followers in Judea heard that Gentiles had accepted God's message. 2So when Peter came to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish followers started arguing with him. They wanted Gentile followers to be circumcised, and 3they said, You stayed in the homes of Gentiles, and you even ate with them! 4Then Peter told them exactly what had happened: 5I was in the town of Joppa and was praying when I fell sound asleep and had a vision. I saw heaven open, and something like a huge sheet held by its four corners came down to me. 6When I looked in it, I saw animals, wild beasts, snakes, and birds. 7I heard a voice saying to me, Peter, get up! Kill these and eat them. 8But I said, Lord, I can't do that! I've never taken a bite of anything that is unclean and not fit to eat. 9The voice from heaven spoke to me again, When God says that something can be used for food, don't say it isn't fit to eat. 10This happened three times before it was all taken back into heaven. 11Suddenly three men from Caesarea stood in front of the house where I was staying. 12The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry. Then six of the Lord's followers went with me to the home of a man 13who told us that an angel had appeared to him. The angel had ordered him to send to Joppa for someone named Simon Peter. 14Then Peter would tell him how he and everyone in his house could be saved. 15After I started speaking, the Holy Spirit was given to them, just as the Spirit had been given to us at the beginning. 16I remembered that the Lord had said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 17God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So how could I have gone against God? 18When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They said, God has now let Gentiles turn to him, and he has given life to them! The church in Antioch 19Some of the Lord's followers had been scattered because of the terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed. They went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they told the message only to the Jews. 20Some of the followers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord's power was with them, and many people turned to the Lord and put their faith in him. 22News of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem. Then they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When Barnabas got there and saw what God had been kind enough to do for them, he was very glad. So he begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. 24Barnabas was a good man of great faith, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many more people turned to the Lord. 25Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26He found Saul and brought him to Antioch, where they met with the church for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch the Lord's followers were first called Christians. 27During this time some prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch. 28One of them was Agabus. Then with the help of the Spirit, he told that there would be a terrible famine everywhere in the world. And it happened when Claudius was Emperor. 29The followers in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers in Judea. 30So they asked Barnabas and Saul to take their gifts to the church leaders in Jerusalem. Herod causes trouble for the church
1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. 3I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. 4A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. 5That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we are each part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. 6God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. 7If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. 8If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully. Rules for Christian living 9Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10Love each other as brothers and sisters and honour others more than you do yourself. 11Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home. 14Ask God to bless everyone who ill-treats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are cleverer than others. Make friends with ordinary people. 17Don't ill-treat someone who has ill-treated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18and do your best to live at peace with everyone. 19Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, I am the one to take revenge and pay them back. 20The Scriptures also say, If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads. 21Don't let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good. Obey rulers
1My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest! 2Jesus was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in serving all God's people. 3But Jesus deserves more honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves more honour than the house. 4Of course, every house is built by someone, and God is really the one who built everything. 5Moses was a faithful servant and told God's people what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is the Son in charge of God's people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don't lose hope. A rest for God's people 7It is just as the Holy Spirit says, If you hear God's voice today, 8don't be stubborn! Don't rebel like those people who were tested in the desert. 9For forty years your ancestors tested God and saw the things he did. Then God got tired of them and said, You people never show good sense, and you don't understand what I want you to do. 11God became angry and told the people, You will never enter my place of rest! 12My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called today. If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15The Scriptures say, If you hear his voice today, don't be stubborn like those who rebelled. 16Who were those people that heard God's voice and rebelled? Weren't they the same ones that came out of Egypt with Moses? 17Who were the people that made God angry for forty years? Weren't they the ones that sinned and died in the desert? 18And who did God say would never enter his place of rest? Weren't they the ones that disobeyed him? 19We see that those people did not enter the place of rest because they did not have faith.
1It took David and his men three days to reach Ziklag. But while they had been away, the Amalekites had been raiding in the desert around there. They had attacked Ziklag, burnt it to the ground, 2and had taken away the women and children. 3When David and his men came to Ziklag, they saw the burnt out ruins and learnt that their families had been taken captive. 4They started crying and kept it up until they were too weak to cry any more. 5David's two wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, had been taken captive with everyone else. 6David was desperate. His soldiers were so upset over what had happened to their sons and daughters that they were thinking about stoning David to death. But he felt the Lord God giving him strength, 7and he said to the priest, Abiathar, let's ask God what to do. Abiathar brought everything he needed to get answers from God, and he went over to David. 8Then David asked the Lord , Should I go after the people who raided our town? Can I catch up with them? Go after them, the Lord answered. You will catch up with them, and you will rescue your families. 9David led his six hundred men to Besor Gorge, but two hundred of them were too tired to go across. So they stayed behind, while David and the other four hundred men crossed the gorge. 11Some of David's men found an Egyptian out in a field and took him to David. They gave the Egyptian some bread, and he ate it. Then they gave him a drink of water, 12some dried figs, and two handfuls of raisins. This was the first time in three days he had tasted food or water. Now he felt much better. 13Who is your master? David asked. And where do you come from? I'm from Egypt, the young man answered. I'm the servant of an Amalekite, but he left me here three days ago because I was sick. 14We had attacked some towns in the desert where the Cherethites live, in the area that belongs to Judah, and in the desert where the Caleb clan lives. And we burnt down Ziklag. 15Will you take me to those Amalekites? David asked. Yes, I will, if you promise with God as a witness that you won't kill me or hand me over to my master. 16He led David to the Amalekites. They were eating and drinking everywhere, celebrating because of what they had taken from Philistia and Judah. 17David attacked just before sunrise the next day and fought until sunset. Four hundred Amalekites rode away on camels, but they were the only ones who escaped. 18David rescued his two wives and everyone else the Amalekites had taken from Ziklag. 19No one was missingyoung or old, sons or daughters. David brought back everything that had been stolen, 20including their livestock. David also took the sheep and cattle that the Amalekites had with them, but he kept these separate from the others. Everyone agreed that these would be David's reward. 21On the way back, David went to the two hundred men he had left at Besor Gorge, because they had been too tired to keep up with him. They came towards David and the people who were with him. When David was close enough, he greeted the two hundred men and asked how they were doing. 22Some of David's men were good-for-nothings, and they said, Those men didn't go with us to the battle, so they don't get any of the things we took back from the Amalekites. Let them take their wives and children and go! 23But David said: My friends, don't be so greedy with what the Lord has given us! The Lord protected us and gave us victory over the people who attacked. 24Who would pay attention to you, anyway? Soldiers who stay behind to guard the camp get as much as those who go into battle. 25David made this a law for Israel, and it has been the same ever since. 26David went back to Ziklag with everything they had taken from the Amalekites. He sent some of these things as gifts to his friends who were leaders of Judah, and he told them, We took these things from the Lord 's enemies. Please accept them as a gift. 27This is a list of the towns where David sent gifts: Bethel, Ramoth in the Southern Desert, Jattir, Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, Racal, the towns belonging to the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites, Hormah, Bor-Ashan, Athach, and Hebron. He also sent gifts to the other towns where he and his men had travelled.
1Jesus said to his disciples, Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. 2There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. 3After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. 4You know the way to where I am going. 5Thomas said, Lord, we don't even know where you are going! How can we know the way? 6I am the way, the truth, and the life! Jesus answered. Without me, no one can go to the Father. 7If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him. 8Philip said, Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need. 9Jesus replied: Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don't you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? 10Don't you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn't said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things. 11Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. 13Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honour to the Father. 14I will do whatever you ask me to do. The Holy Spirit is promised 15Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will do as I command. 16Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. 17The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don't see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you. 18I won't leave you like orphans. I will come back to you. 19In a little while the people of this world won't be able to see me, but you will see me. And because I live, you will live. 20Then you will know that I am one with the Father. You will know that you are one with me, and I am one with you. 21If you love me, you will do what I have said, and my Father will love you. I will also love you and show you what I am like. 22The other Judas, not Judas Iscariot, then spoke up and asked, Lord, what do you mean by saying that you will show us what you are like, but you will not show the people of this world? 23Jesus replied: If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them. 24But anyone who doesn't love me, won't obey me. What they have heard me say doesn't really come from me, but from the Father who sent me. 25I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. 27I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid. 28You have already heard me say that I am going and that I will also come back to you. If you really love me, you should be glad that I am going back to the Father, because he is greater than I am. 29I am telling you this before I leave, so that when it does happen, you will have faith in me. 30I cannot speak with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. But he has no power over me. 31I obey my Father, so that everyone in the world might know that I love him. It is time for us to go now. Jesus is the true vine