In both Genesis and Galatians (and many others biblical texts), our calling as humans is emphasized as one of being a blessing to the nations: of reflecting back to creation the image of God and joining with him in redeeming this world to its original state of “very goodness.” This is the common vocational calling of all believers. Let me reiterate, there is no higher calling for the Christian school than to raise up students to be effective in our common vocational calling.
It’s summer. Last year’s books are put away and the halls are quiet. What better time to reflect on the past school year and contemplate the future by doing a quick check-up on our readiness to fulfill our calling?
Confirming Your Purpose
Over the past year, how diligent has your staff and board worked to position you toward a successful future? Have you redeveloped a common mission and purpose? Can you each articulate that purpose as it relates to the students and parents at your school? To what extent has this purpose statement guided your plans and decisions? You are a school. Your core purpose is educating students. But not just educating them: equipping them. And not just equipping, but equipping for a purpose. Here are some important elements in positioning Christian schools toward a successful future in equipping students to fulfill their human vocational calling.
Excellence in Equipping Faculty and Students: Teacher Standards of Excellence
How do we equip students to transform the world for Jesus Christ? First, a school needs godly teachers who care, both for their students personally and for the skill with which they teach. Do you have a document that articulates what you mean by excellence in teaching, the standard to which all teachers hold themselves accountable? To encourage common ownership, were these standards developed and/or revised with significant faculty input? Finally, do you have a robust, collaborative, and ongoing teacher evaluation and professional growth effort?
Excellence in Equipping Faculty and Students: Curriculum Development
Next, those teachers need to proactively implement a well-defined and God-honoring curriculum framework. Building on the above standards, have you developed a curriculum framework that will equip students to transform the world for Jesus Christ? Here are four important aspects of a transformational curriculum designed to meet current and future needs:
- Performance Objectives: For each lesson or unit of instruction, what do you want students to be able to do as a result? Education is meant for action; simple knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. Have you developed such performance objectives for each lesson you teach in every unit in every class?
- The Four Cs: While students are learning, what skills and abilities do you want them to develop? Have you identified the skills your students will need to be effective servants, to be effective in the current workforce? Consider the four Cs of communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Incorporating at least one into each lesson will help students develop the skills they need to be effective in the workforce and to make a difference for Christ, both now and in their future.
- Technology: Our re-tooled world runs by it. Do you use technology on both the input and output side, for both taking in information and for creating work product? In addition to technical skills, are you teaching discernment regarding the wise and biblical use of all information technology?
- Biblical Worldview Integration: We believe our whole world belongs to God. He is Lord of all: mathematics and politics, geography and science, language and the arts: “every square inch,” as we like to say. Have you considered what the Big Story of Scripture is and how you and your students participate in that story? Have you identified strands of that Big Story to help you get a handle on proactively integrating a biblical worldview throughout your living and learning?
Blessings as you refresh, reinvigorate, and retool for next year!
– Bart Den Boer, worldview specialist