Do you ever wonder what happens when Christian school teachers gather together?
1. We eat together. Sometimes at a restaurant, sometimes on a patch of grass on the conference grounds, we talk and laugh and share our fries. This in itself is a treat –the days and weeks typically go by with us passing each other quickly in the halls. How precious to break bread together and catch up.
2. Learn. There were more than 100 workshops and classes for us to choose from. For example, I attended:
- a lecture on faith formation, in which I was challenged by the idea that we tend to teach faith in exuberance and entertainment with a subtle fear that if the children get bored we’ll lose them. The speaker reminded us that discipleship takes time, and that it might even look like it’s failing sometimes. It’s a long process. It’s okay if children doubt, lament. Christianity does not need to equal being extroverted! More important than entertaining, we need to dig to the heart of our children and help them to love, to love God and to love what He loves.
- a hands-on workshop about taking students outside, in which I was taught how much physical and academic good there is in being outdoors. I practiced many activities that incorporate the curriculum with nature and plan to make use of them already this yearnext week!
- a class on using restorative practices in the classroom. I received practical ideas on walking children through conflict resolution in such a way that voices can be heard and healing can take place. Our teacher’s motto was “high support and high accountability” and her experience was invaluable.
- a presentation on the church and Christian school in Egypt. Beautiful pictures and jaw-dropping history (videos of the present-day church worshiping in ancient cave buildings) and inspiring messages of the global body of Christ.
3. Worship! Singing with a group of 1800 was powerful. The musical accompaniment was beautiful and included a Vancouver Christian high school’s choir and marching band. In the days following convention, I’ve heard many teachers mention that marching band! They were top notch. ☺
4. We have fun! When we arrived at the hotel on Wednesday night, we were tired out after a day of teaching and a 2.5 hour drive. The plan for many of us was to get a good night’s sleep. And then we saw the hotel waterslide. The sign promised a two and a half story “thrill ride”. We flew down the waterslide amid plenty of laughs.
5. New songs. We’re bringing home a new praise song to teach the students. Keep your ears open for “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective. There are even actions.
6. A main speaker. Author James K. A. Smith taught us about being residents of earth and citizens of heaven. Reading Romans 12, he talked about how we can be transformed so that we can be in the world without being conformed. He warned us of two dangers: we need to be careful not to believe that we ourselves can bring God’s Kingdom on our own terms (too highly of ourselves) and we need to be careful not to consider the world to be purely evil. If we do so, we might miss seeing where God is working and where we can be sent to engage in what God is already doing. We were reminded that worship ends with a sending out. Christian schools end with a sending out. (Our speaker quoted a Cardus study that shows that children graduating from Christian schools are more likely to be engaged in communities and working for the public good!) What a gift to sit under such excellent teaching!
7. I remembered that it’s hard work to sit in a seat and listen to a teacher and take notes and stretch my brain. Our dear students who do this six hours a day….
8. Reflect. The drive home allowed for some times of reflection, sharing, and shopping for Canadian candy. I returned refreshed, reconnected to coworkers, and remembering the big picture. What an opportunity!