Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Book Review: Teaching to Change Lives by Dr. Howard Hendricks

Nov 2, 2020

“It is the teacher’s mission … by sympathy, by example, and by every means of influence – by objects for the sense, by facts for the intelligence – to excite the mind of the pupils, to stimulate their thoughts … The greatest of teachers said: ‘The seed is the word.’ The true teacher stirs the ground and sows the seed.”
John Milton Gregory

This month I required my class of ‘teachers-in-training’ to read Howard Hendricks’ book Teaching to Change Lives. Since a teacher should never ask his/her students to do something they are not willing to do themselves, I reread the book and was once again challenged and stimulated. What a fantastic read! It’s packed with practical advice from a seasoned teacher, a teacher-of-teachers. I’ll admit, it’s dated (c 1987) but the principles on which he focuses are eternally relevant. Dr. Hendricks writes from a Christian worldview, and the majority of his illustrations are within the church/religious school context … but again, it’s fundamentally sound and the postulates are both contemporary and universal.

The title catches my attention: who doesn’t want to see their students’ lives truly and positively changed because of their influence?! The subtitle tells me that the book focuses on the practicalities of teaching: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive. I want to be that kind of teacher: life-giving!

Hendricks uses an acronym to bullet-point his “seven proven ways;” he actually refers to them as laws. Interesting word! Perhaps the word law can best be defined as a system of rules. Rules are made to be kept for specific reasons; followed rules are formulated to provide stability, predictability, safety, consistency, peace, order, etc. These are the seven laws on which Hendricks expounds:

The Law of the …


Teacher – stop growing today, and you stop teaching tomorrow

Education – how people learn determines how you teach

Activity – maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement

Communication – to truly impart information requires the building of bridges

Heart – teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart

Encouragement – teaching tends to be most effective when the learner is properly motivated

Readiness – the teaching-learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared.


Favorite quotes:

“I would rather have my students drinking from a running stream than a stagnant pool.”

“The higher your predictability, the lower your impact.”

“Do you keep the people in your class feeling comfortable? Or do you let their equilibrium be disturbed so they realize, I’ve got to study … more and think more; I’ve got to try this out in real life?

“You as the teacher cannot pour it in. You have to draw it out … “to draw out” is the root meaning of the word education.”

Does this pique your interest? I hope so! Which book on teaching has shaped you most? Is it time to reread that book? Or is it time for a new one? I recommend Teaching to Change Lives – even for experienced teachers. You will find good reminders, practical challenges, thought-provoking questions and perhaps the motivation you have been looking for to continue to learn and grow as a teacher, a giver of life!


About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!