One of the teachers recommended a book, On Christian Teaching: Practicing Faith in the Classroom by David Smith. I was between books so I decided to read it. It was one of those books that really got me thinking. Mr. Smith asked whether the Christian faith not only changed the content of the classroom; but, did it change the actual process of instruction?
Christian school teachers, administrators, and promoters of the movement talk a lot about biblical integration and worldview development. Mr. Smith takes it further and says that the process needs to reflect the Christian faith. What a provocative and challenging concept, is the process different? The goals are different than a secular school. Therefore, it seems logical that the means to those ends are different.
Mr. Smith posits that it is important to support classroom instruction that provides opportunities for students to learn and practice Christian values. The time, space, and process all build towards the desired outcome of a Christian school such as “Developing students who love God with all their minds, bodies, and souls” (Salem Christian School, 2019).
During a recent teacher professional development we worked through the challenges within the book. Much discussion took place. There are plenty of examples in our school. A teacher helps students take care of their learning, which will build life long learners that a Christian life requires by providing student opportunities to pick their space choice of seat with the caveat that it will be the best space to learn. Collaborative assignments enable students to practice respect and loving one another by learning to value others input and working through potential conflict. Of course, students can learn to serve through the process of ministry days, like the High School did last week.
It was an exciting and productive teacher professional development day. It allowed teachers to address the challenges a Christian educator has in a Christian school. Collaboratively working together in order to build our capacity and effectiveness as Christian educators in a Christian school was very valuable. The ability to work independently in order to apply the information from the day and create was equally valuable as the collaborative work, small group work, and independent work throughout the day. The day without students was put to great use. It provided an opportunity to assess our process and fine tune it so that we are growing and developing the methods, time, and space in our ongoing pursuit of being distinctly Christian.
Smith, D. (2018). On Christian teaching: practicing faith in the classroom. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.