Teaching program emphasizes our role in God's story

By Sarah Sutton
Communications Officer
Society for Christian Education

It’s easy to see Immanuel Christian Schools from the outside – the buildings, the busses, the people, the blue and gold. But what really defines our schools is what’s going on inside – inside classrooms, inside meeting rooms and gymnasiums, and inside the hearts of students, parents, teachers and staff.

Our teaching worldview, or philosophy, is shaped directly by the Teaching for Transformation (TfT) program developed by the Prairie Centre for Christian Education. Immanuel Christian Schools was first introduced to this program in 2009, and by 2011, began using it as a learning framework that would span across both campuses and stay with students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Implementing Teaching for Transformation takes time and dedication, and that’s where teachers Laura Witten (Gr.4/5, ICES) and Kim Schellenberg (Gr.6/7, ICSS) come in. They are full-time Lethbridge School District No.51 teachers, but the Society for Christian Education in Southern Alberta provides funding for release time for them to develop authentic and integral Christian school learning experiences.

“Now that we’re a few years into this, we have a good grasp on most of TfT. This year, our focus is Storylines, and seeing how God invites us to be a part of His story in every class and every part of our lives,” says Schellenberg.

There are 3 core practices of Tft: 1. Storyline, 2. Biblical Throughlines (ie. God Worshipper, Beauty Creator, Servant Worker) and 3. FLEx (Formative Learning Experiences). These practices work together together to create a positive impact on students and teachers.

“This spring, at a Professional Learning Day in May, we will be introducing teachers to the concept of storylines for their classrooms – each one uniquely based on subject matter and teacher preference,” says Schellenberg. “My theme is ‘Love Does’. This is very applicable for a Social Studies class. And as an example of being Justice Seekers, we are writing letters to government officials and physically walking them to the mailbox. A classroom storyline for Math or Science may look entirely different.”

While the language and words used in TfT may take some getting used to, the actions and learning experiences that flow from this program are easy to relate to. Whether it’s the Grade 1 class making Christmas cards and delivering them to neighbours of ICES, or the Senior High classes participating in a “Coin War” to raise $4,600 for Streets Alive, this type of experiential learning impacts the school, students and the community.

“It was amazing to see how the senior high classes were motivated by the cause of Streets Alive, and not just the competition, to collect coins,” says Schellenberg. “And, you know what? The Middle Years were watching and admiring the actions of the older students.”

At the elementary school, Witten is focusing on telling God’s story and inviting students to discover their roles in it. The ICES theme this year is “God’s Story, Our Story” which goes well with the TfT Storyline practice. The school’s Spring Program on March 23 will also follow that theme.

“It’s a little harder to develop a classroom theme for elementary because each teacher has so many subjects,” says Witten. “However, we can incorporate God’s ongoing story of creation-fall-redemption-restoration into each subject. Every learning experience can help students recognize their part in God’s story.”

Each ICES grade develops their own FLEx service project. One example is the Grade 4 class going to Rehoboth Christian Ministries this spring to help plant flowers. Another one was Kindergarten baking cookies with ICSS students for Streets Alive.

At both campuses, the goal is to nurture and empower teachers to embrace the TfT concepts in their own way. “TfT is going to look different for each teacher, based on their own personalities and faith journey, and that’s ok!” says Schellenberg.

You can learn more about Teaching for Transformation here:

http://societyforchristianeducation.org/Teaching%20For%20Transformation.php

http://pcce.tftshare.ca/

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