“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:1 & 10).
We can teach our students with confidence because we know who we belong to and who has claimed us. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has redeemed us, made us His own, and secured eternal glory for each of us. We can firmly believe and boldly proclaim each and every day that we are rooted in the Cross of Jesus Christ – we are His.
As Christian teachers, we realize curriculum is a mere guide, a benchmark or roadmap that includes minimal state competencies. Those skills and competencies are measured through standardized tests and other means of assessment, both formative and summative.
As Christian teachers, we also acknowledge that the value, depth and breadth of viable curriculum is not necessarily found in the written text; rather, the value of curriculum is the instructional message conveyed by those who are trained to instruct.
Exceptional classroom teachers have an understanding about the conceptual structures and nomenclature of their subject matter. They know that the content to be covered in a high school English or chemistry class is very different from the content that is covered in a middle school language arts or science lesson. The teaching of reading to first graders is different than reading instruction given to third graders. The teachers’ ability to present content in different contextual settings in meaningful ways differentiates educators from other scholars, education from other scholarly professions and mediocre teaching from exceptional teaching (Shulman, 1987).
The value in any curriculum is not simply the transfer of knowledge between teacher and student; rather excellent instruction happens when skilled teachers couple their instruction with Christian faith statements and personal experiences gained through their own education or travel. And, relying on scope and sequences of state approved textbooks, or the textbook alone, will not guarantee viable or even valuable curriculum for your students.
If you want good and viable curriculum, surround yourself with individuals who refuse to silo. If you want excellent instruction, surround yourself with others who strive to collaborate constantly, critique and adjust their curriculum often, reflect on current and past lessons, and are never willing to be satisfied with repeated lessons from past years.
In conclusion, excellent instruction occurs when Christian teachers utilize curriculum as a guide and not solely as a means to an end.
Let us always give thanks to God for Lutheran churches and schools.
Jon Mielke, Ed.D