Friday, 2 December 2016

Success Criteria

At the Membership meeting last week, I highlighted the professional development work done by the teachers on Tuesday afternoons. This year they have been working on learning goals, success criteria and planning for our project-based learning theme. During the meeting, I asked the members to create a self-portrait, but the exercise was not about the self-portrait but about seeing and understanding how learning goals and success criteria are developed and used. We develop these tools in order to promote learning, mastery of skills and beautiful work.

Now this all sounds good, but unless it makes its way into practice and into the classroom it is meaningless. The good news is that these tools are present in the classroom. Let me share a story about what occurred yesterday.

Success Criteria on the Whiteboard
Yesterday morning, I was in my office working on a document that identifies the skills and knowledge of great teaching and I was working with statements on using learning goals, success criteria and other assessment tools. As I was working, the language that was appearing on my written work was being echoed by the language coming from the Grade 7 room. Since hearing the language was more interesting then writing it, I left my office to go and see what was happening. What I observed confirmed what I was hearing.

The grade 7 class, facilitated by Mrs. Dam were co-creating success criteria for a children’s story project. I am not sure if you are going to be able to read the success criteria in the accompanying photo, but it is worthy to note that all of the responses, the success criteria or the benchmarks of beautiful work, were supplied by the student based upon their prior knowledge. The teacher was assisting the students to make connections between their prior knowledge and the new work they are about to create. Now each student is equipped with the knowledge and a checklist of items they need to incorporate into their work.

Grade 7 Students and Teacher
As an administer, it is a privilege to witness this work. In my office and in the staff room at the beginning of the school year I posted a simple sign that states: think, plan, execute and repeat. The story I just shared, demonstrates these steps. Yesterday, I was able to express my joy and thanks to the teacher and the students of Grade 7 for their work. I now eagerly wait for their beautiful creations.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Welcome Back

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

Welcome back. This is the message that I hope the students heard loud and clear when they returned to school on Tuesday. While summer breaks are enjoyed by everyone, school besides being important places of learning are also communities. First and foremost a learning community, but also very importantly a community of fellowship and we should miss that fellowship when we are away from it for a time. A welcome back is an honest expression of joy of coming back into fellowship.
One learning opportunity that the teachers will engage in this year is a conference that has the theme “Learning through Relationships.” I believe that this theme is important. Learning can only occur when there are a healthy relationships and a healthy community. A broken relationship and community is a barrier and stumbling block to learning. Therefore, all the relationships within a classroom must live out the directions in the verse above.

As a Christian organization, we also have intentionally recognized that creating a sense of belonging and community is important throughout our organization. All of the different types of relationships are too numerous to mention, but each one is important. It is one of our purposes to foster the deep sense of belonging. Again, that means we must all live out the Biblical advice of Peter.
This will be a part of our challenge this year. At Tuesday’s assembly, I had the pleasure of introducing one new staff member, twenty new students and ten new families. There are a lot of new people who need to be grafted into our community. The Lord has blessed us with their presence and we need to be a blessing to them by ensuring that they feel like they belong.

The most important tool in either maintaining old relationships or fostering new ones is communication. Communication that is open and honest, which demonstrates love, hospitality and service. Communication that embraces both the successes of community, but also addresses the brokenness that comes from living in community.

We pray that everyone feels welcomed in our community, the courage to talk about broken relationships and the wisdom to facilitate reconciliation. May the Lord bless our year together.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Blue Day

It was "Blue Day" at Community Christian School in Drayton. Why blue? Blue is the colour of colon cancer awareness. Recently, one of our teachers, Miss VandenHazel, was diagnosed with colon cancer and our students wanted to demonstrate their love and support for Miss VandenHazel. Continue to pray for Miss VandenHazel as she undergoes treatment. We miss you.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Making the School a Beautiful Place

Two weeks ago, three boys came to me with a concern that was burning on their hearts.  They stated with great solemnity that I needed to come and see something.  These boys lead me to their classroom and asked me to look underneath a couple of tables.  Under these tables was the ugliness of graffiti.  It filled my heart with joy that these young students were deeply bothered by this blight.  They had no part in creating the graffiti, but they knew that they did not want it to be a part of their classroom and their school.  I challenged these boys further by giving them the responsibility to clean it up.  They took up this task with great eagerness.  They gave up recess time to sand off and paint over the graffiti, which creates a clean slate.  They were actively involved in restoring their classroom and their school to a place of beauty.  Restoring things to the way they should be.  They lived out the restorative work of the kingdom of God.  They demonstrated what it means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.  Thanks boys.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Beautiful Work: Part 3

Two weeks ago, I posted some pictures of the beautiful work that the Grade 4 class accomplished through their pizza box biographies.  Today, on video, two students from that class talk about their learning experience.  Enjoy

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Hockey Champions

Community Christian School won the Pool B Championship game at last week's Christian School Tournament.  Congratulations to the boys and girls who played hard and well all day.

Monday, 1 February 2016

JK/SK Fifties Day

Last week, our JK/SK class celebrated their fiftieth day of school with a Fifties Day.  They danced to fifties music, drank ice cream floats, dressed in the fashion of the fifties or what they wanted to be at age 50 and other activities related to the number 50.  Here are some photos documenting their day.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Beautiful Work

I like movies and I love movies that tell a story about Biblical truths. I also love food, so when these two things combine I get excited. This past weekend I watched a movie that I first watched about 15 years ago. The movie was a Danish film written and directed by the Gabriel Axel called Babette’s Feast.
The film is set in a small, bleak Danish village. The three main characters are two sisters and their maid. The two sisters have given up much in life in order to dedicate themselves to the church started by their father and to care for the people of the village by bringing food to the elderly. The food is simple and reflects peasant food that can be found throughout the world. In this film, the main dish was ale bread soup. A combination of dark rye bread and ale that was mixed in to a thick, brown, pasty mass that was heated. Life was portrayed as simple and harsh and their religion matched the setting. Going to church meant you dressed in black. The service was singing and preaching. One song continues to be repeated, “Jerusalem, My Heart’s True Home.” The most prominent lyric is “Jerusalem, my heart's true home, your name is forever dear to me. Your kindness is second to none, you keep us clothed and fed. Never would you give a stone to the child who begs for bread.” This lyric ties with the image of the bread soup. Life is simple, harsh but God provides. They longed for the glory of the New Jerusalem.

The climax of the film is an extravagant feast. The sisters long ago took in a refugee from France, who became their maid, Babette. The maid toiled for fourteen years in their service preparing simple meals and cleaning their home. One day, it appears as if life was going to change. The maid won the French lottery and won a significant amount of money. The sisters fear Babette will leave. Babette asks for a favour, permission to prepare a true French meal for the members of the church. The sisters deeply suspicious do grant the wish. As the supplies for the feast begin to arrive, the sisters become trouble and fear the devil is about to tempt them into sin, but they do not want to offend Babette. The sisters, along with the remaining members of the church agree to eat the meal, but will not discuss the food with the understanding that they will not enjoy it. Babette used every penny of her fortune to create a true French feast for Babette was once the head chef of one of Paris’ best restaurants. Each course was rich, luxurious and extravagant and was accompanied by a matching wine. The one outsider invited to the feast is astonished to find food like this in a simple village. As he raved and marveled at the feast the others begin to take delight in this beautiful meal. The feast ends with one church member looking up into the starlit sky and with his hands raised stated, “Hallelujah.” They just tasted a glimpse of the feast God has prepared for us in the New Jerusalem. God gave them more than their heart’s desire. He gave them more than bread.

The feast was created by a master chef with a grateful heart and it was beautiful. The meal was a work of art. Beautiful work allows us to experience what God has in store for us. Beautiful work or art is but a glimpse of the new heaven and the new earth. Beautiful work creates hope.
This is one of the reasons why beautiful work is important. As a staff of Community Christian School and embers of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools we are being challenged to create curriculum that inspires students to create beautiful work in all subject areas. This involves understanding and appreciating the work of masters and learning from them. It is my hope that you will be able to catch a glimpse of God’s glory in the work of your daughter/son/grandchild/friend.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Agents of Hope and Grace Part 2

Agents of hope and grace. During the month of December, Students' Council organized a clothing drive to help assist new Syrian refugees settle into life in Canada. Below is a photo of our student council members and the clothing they collected.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Witnesses and Agents of Hope and Grace

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

One of the advantages of teaching from a Christian perspective is that we can explore God’s grace and the message of hope. The passage from Romans has been on my mind the past couple of days and it is a passage that reinforces the message of grace and hope. This verse has been on my mind because in the Grade 5/6 creation studies class, we have been examining the beginnings of Canada and the story of New France.

A part of understanding the story of New France lead us to look at King Louis XIV of France. We discovered he was a powerful, self-centred, extravagant and misguided. He eventually begins to develop a god complex and we saw evidence that King Louis XIV portrayed himself as a god. The Grade 5/6 class wholehearted agreed that they would not want to be his friend or be ruled by him. However, because of King Louis XIV character traits, he help the development of a very small, almost forgotten colony, of New France grow and prosper. This growing colony became home to many from France who lives were filled with poverty and dead ends in France. In essence, there was no opportunity for growing or flourishing. They were hopeless. By moving to New France, many of these people had new opportunities. They prospered and flourished.

In class, we spent some time talking about the bigger story or the upper story. What was happening from God’s perspective? We see God’s grace in action. God used the negative characteristics of Louis XIV to develop a new colony. This new colony was a place of hope and flourishing. God was gracious. The people who dared to start new lives experienced this grace. They still faced many hardships, but there was hope. Hope is the key to flourishing and to leading a prosperous life.

Christian education is all about examining the messages of God’s grace and the message of hope in all of the subject areas. We do this for two reasons. First, in order for our students to fully grow, prosper and flourish they must have hope. A hope that is rooted in the grace of God. There need to hear, see and experience this hope. Secondly, we want our students to be agents of hope and grace. Once they are equipped, we desire to have our students offering hope to others in everything that our students do. Our desire is that our students will active agents of restoration in order that the Kingdom of God may flourish. Our efforts are not perfect and our student are not perfect either, but we can be assured that God’s grace will ensure that our work is blessed.