John Maxwell, one of the most influential thought leaders and leadership coaches of our time has often been quoted as saying that in the early years of his pastoral career, he was not a good preacher. He didn’t connect with his congregation, and sermons often fell flat. How did he get better? Maxwell said the answer was simple, but the work was hard: He practiced with intentionality toward specific goals.
It is similar, I sense, with Christian schools. Denver Christian is a Christian school, which means that its core purpose and consistent focus is to help young people understand and experience the fullness of God within the teaching and learning process.
However, just because we employ 81 people of faith (administration, support staff, teaching staff) doesn’t mean that collectively we know everything there is to know about helping young people understand and experience the fullness of God within the teaching and learning process.
John Maxwell recognized that becoming an excellent pastor required work and intentionality on his part to develop his gifts, talents, and passions. Likewise, the faculty and staff here at Denver Christian School understand that part of their work as Christian educators is to continue intentionally learning about how to best help students see God’s story within the teaching and learning process.
Denver Christian has been committed to faith formation as part of the teaching and learning process since 1916, and for the past 104 years has helped students understand God, His world, and their own place in it. Last year, Denver Christian’s teachers began training in the Teaching for Transformation (TFT) model. TFT doesn’t replace academic rigor; rather, it enhances it by purposefully situating academic curriculum within the larger context of God’s plan for our lives.
TFT is a model that is helping us reach our goal of shaping our students’ faith within the context of world-class teaching and learning experiences.
Let me give you a personal example of how TFT can unfold in our classrooms: Before becoming a principal, I was a history teacher. My favorite unit of study to teach was the Civil War. However, I always wanted to teach the kids something deeper about the Civil War, beyond the facts and dates.
Were the facts and dates important? Yes, but I also innately understood there was so much more in learning about the Civil War that could help my students better see who God is and how they were to reflect Him in their daily lives.
I did my best to help students understand how the Civil War, at its core, was more than a disagreement about states’ rights, but it was also about a misunderstanding of what it means to be made in the image of God. However, I always felt there was a better way. The Teaching for Transformation framework, is, in my opinion, is a better way. It gives teachers a framework to work from, which in turn, can improve their ability to reveal God to children within the teaching and learning process.
In closing, I want to ask you a question, dear parent: Is there anything more important, considering the days we live in, than teaching children to understand God, His world, and their purpose in His world?
I can with confidence say that the brokenness and fracturing we are experiencing as a society can experience a sense of restoration, but only if we as Christians commit to learning about God’s purpose for His people, His world, and then responding to what we have learned.
Christian schools like Denver Christian are committed to doing this very thing by taking part in initiatives such as Teaching for Transformation. And Christian Schools have been doing good work, already, over the years. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, recent research by the Cardus Foundation has shown the Christian School graduates are unifying forces within their communities. Our graduates, as a result of their Christian education, have the capacity to contribute for the greater good of their neighbor, which is the second greatest commandment and response to the first (Matthew 22:37-39).
But don’t take my word for it, take a look at the research and spread the word within your circles of influence. Maybe you might even share this blog post with them?
Matt Covey, Head of School