hero default image

Along the Journey  |  

Becoming a Better Teacher: What’s Your “Why?”

Among my most formative learning experiences were those related to swimming and waterfront activities.

I was motivated to learn and master skills: swim to the raft; dive off the high dive; empty a tipped canoe, paddle through rapids.

Eventually I became a lifeguard and swim instructor, passing on my love of the water by teaching and encouraging others.

Over the course of 15 years, thanks to skilled Red Cross instructors , I became a lifelong swimmer.


Later, as an employee of the American Red Cross Blood Services, I eventually became a “master trainer trainer” within that organization.

I mastered new content, led others to learn new skills and along the way I learned to be a better teacher, supervisor and leader.


When I moved to S. Alabama, my sons and I became active in a church.

One day, the Church School Superintendent asked me to be part of a teaching team for a class of cognitively and physically disabled adults.

Who, ME?

I knew blood services, I knew swimming.

I also knew that I wanted to learn more about the Bible and the Presbyterian tradition and what better way to learn than to teach?


Two seminary degrees and 18 years later, I get to design and lead education programs for clergy and church leaders, to write curriculum and devotionals for children, adults and youth.

I have become a better facilitator and coach.

The love of learning – the theory and the practice or craft of teaching – go hand in hand for me.


I jumped in the water with both feet as a seven year old to learn to swim.

I jumped in with my whole self when I said yes to serving on a teaching team in a congregation.

I jumped in with my whole self and household to attend seminary.


I jumped at the chance to facilitate this course, after I took it last year as part of my ongoing professional development.

It’s yet another chance to “learn by doing” and practice the art of teaching, learning along the way with course participants.


I invite you to join me as we work through the 12 modules of the 12 Days to Becoming a Better Christian Teacher course .

Do it in two weeks or stretch it out over the month of October.

As teachers engaged in faith formation, we become instruments in the creation and ongoing interpretation of a divinely-inspired composition.

If we’re successful, we’ll encourage others to learn and live the lessons of our Christian faith while fostering an environment where that faith might be re-traditioned and reformed through the enacted faith of the living.[i]

I do so because it is a reflection of the hope I place in the promises of our triune God.

What’s your “why” for becoming a better teacher?

Sarah Erickson is a clergy member of the Presbytery of S. Alabama serving as Director of Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. She is committed to nurturing others through all stages of the journey of faith and has a special interest in the role of worship and music in faith formation.

Sarah is a trained coach, having completed The Training Institute at Columbia Theological Seminary (TCI@CTS) and is pursuing ACC certification (associated certified coach). She is curious about how people anticipating or experiencing a transition or new challenge fashion a way forward and is excited to partner with them in this transformative work. She welcomes the chance to teach and lead worship, to make music, read, enjoys the out-of-doors, swimming and a good long walk.  A native of Cleveland, OH, she is a GRITS (girl reformed in the South). Sarah’s family includes sons Adam (Stephanie and grandchildren) and Peter (Martha and grandchildren).

1Diana Butler Bass, The Practicing Congregation:  Imagining a New Old Church (Herndon, VA:  The Alban Institute, 2004) 47-53.


Along the Journey