Your ministry is unique. In many ways, your role, setting, and audience is unlike any other within our school system. Yet, you remain united in Christ (Philippians 2:1-2) with every called brother and sister serving our Lord. Different, but the same. This theme holds true for our conference’s strands and sectionals. We understand that you may be serving in a large school, small school, rural setting, suburban setting, or urban setting. Your school may be located in the South, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, East Coast, West Coast, or Midwest. Your students may be early childhood, elementary, middle school, or high school. They may be exceptionally gifted or have special needs. Your families may be ethnically diverse, wealthy, poor, or simply searching for belonging. No matter your setting, the following strands have universal implications on Christian education. We pray that these strands and sectionals may better equip you to serve His lambs in your important calling.
Feedback and Assessment
What is assessment? What is evaluation? What is grading? What is feedback? Research shows that feedback is one of the most important variables affecting the amount and quality of student learning (Brookhart). As Christian educators, our students deserve more than just letter grades. A Christ-centered and student focused classroom will use a variety of assessments and evaluations to increase student learning. This strand will explore the importance of how instruction informs assessment and vice versa in order to maximize academic growth according to the uniqueness of every learner.
Higher Order Thinking/Questioning
Rote learning plays an important role in Christian education. The memorization of Scripture, math facts, and key terms are foundational components to our learning environment. However, God has given us the ability to think at higher levels. As Christian educators, it behooves us to stretch beyond remembering and recalling information and move deeper into application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and creation (Bloom’s Taxonomy). In this strand, we will explore ways to help all students grow their critical thinking skills.
As Christian educators, our motivation for excellence is what Christ has done for us and the message of the gospel we seek to share. We have heard it said that if we are putting Christ’s name on it, it must be our best. But what does high quality look like in our schools and early childhood ministries? This track will look for topics that focus on ways to continue to measure and strive for high quality, for appropriate rigor that motivates all students, and excellence in lesson planning with clear objectives/learning targets.
Student Centered Classroom
Teaching is all about the student. As Christian educators, we strive for excellence in our teaching with a focus on each student as a unique individual, created by God. It includes ongoing attention to each student’s growth and needs to design lessons, activities, and a rich classroom environment that motivates, inspires, and guides each student in their learning. This track focuses on best practices that strive for student centered excellence in our classrooms.
Social Emotional Learning
As Christian educators, we have the privilege of educating the “whole” child. God-given abilities are maximized when the needs of the “whole” child are met. Every educator would agree that academics are vital! Research also shows the role that social emotional learning plays in accomplishing a student’s academic goals. Factors that influence social emotional growth include environment, family dynamics, nutrition, socioeconomic status, trauma, and cultural experiences.
Students’ social, emotional, and cognitive developmental levels and age-appropriate tasks and challenges must inform our instructional practices in order for all students to succeed. This strand will provide all educators with tools and strategies as they continue to increase their effective instructional practices.
Leadership in Ministry
Leading in our Lutheran school system is exciting and challenging. Ministry opportunities abound, but difficulties are real. Perhaps, now more than ever, it is essential for our school leaders to implement best practices to optimize ministry effectiveness. Whether you serve in an urban, suburban, or rural setting and are an early childhood, elementary, middle school, or high school leader, this strand is designed to provide you with relevant tools and guidance to help you grow as a Christian leader.