Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaching Redemptively Final Post

We hope you have enjoyed this final section of Teaching Redemptively! Dr. Graham has challenged us and at times frustrated us. As we close our reading please reflect on how "the life of God will ooze out of you in your classroom" and what has encouraged or affected you the most from our time spent with Dr. Graham?
Please make your post and comment on at least 2 of your colleagues posts.

86 comments:

  1. I have so enjoyed working through this study with each of you! Kyle and I appreciate your willing spirits in tackling a challenging read and in grappling with some tough issues! We look forward to reading your responses and for this year's journey to continue as we truly teach redemptively!

    Pat

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    1. Thanks, Pat, for encouraging us to "stretch" ourselves and read this book. If it has challenged us on even one point, it has been worth the read of learning to teach with redemption and grace. It's all possible since His spirit lives in us!

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    2. Pat and Kyle- Thank you for introducing us to this book. I love all the activities you implemented this year to get us thinking and sharing. Your plans made reading and sharing more exciting than just reading and answering questions. Thanks for all you do!

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    3. Thanks Pat and Kyle for such a wonderfully rewarding staff development! I appreciate all the hard work you put into developing the activities for us to complete! It was so refreshing instead of just questions and answers! Thanks for all you do!

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    4. Thank you Kyle and Pat for sharing this special book with us. I have loved the variety of ways that we have been allowed to share and express ourselves.

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    5. Thanks Kyle and Pat! I know you truly care for our hearts as teachers and as Gods children! The book was very deep and thought provoking! I appreciate the way you drew in the different learning styles through your assignments. I felt this helped me question where I am and whether or not I am "teaching redemptively"!

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  2. This has been a challenging, frustrating, yet thought provoking read this year. Reading: "who we are and what we do eventually seeps into their being and shapes who they are" has made me evaluate and reevaluate myself daily.

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    1. I love that book statement...that is so true with our students and own children as well. We do make an impact! Thankful for a job that allows us to feel like we are making a difference in this world and the one to come!

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    2. Michelle,

      I was also very convicted reading the statement you posted. I do think it is important that some of the evaluation takes place with others (just like Graham said in the last chapter.)

      We just can't heal, grow, and properly evaluate ourselves. Reflection is important but when we can work through the process with others, it is so much more valuable.

      Have enjoyed getting to know you this year!
      Melanie

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    3. I agree that we need others to help up through the process. I'll miss seeing how all of this plays out next year.

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    4. I couldn't agree more! I would hate it if students look back at their time in my class without seeing me as a reflection of Christ, or at least a teacher who offered grace and really cared about their lives. I pray that our devotional time and prayer time at the beginning of class may be more than just "lip service", but that they may see His love lived out in me on a daily basis. :) May we all learn to choose our words and reactions carefully.

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  3. I have enjoyed getting some "gold nuggets" and thought provoking ideas from this book. I have heard in person at a conference, The author, Donovan Graham, and along with reading this book, I know he is quite an intellectual man. His writing is very deep and he has quite an understanding of his personal and biblical views regarding teaching practices and treatment of God's great design..human beings made in God's image.
    1. I do desire that the life of God will "ooze" out of me by continuing to have students know that I love Jesus and am grateful for His gift of salvation and eternal life. God has equipped us and given us so much! I desire each day to encourage or exhort my students to know Christ personally, live for Him, and serve Him and others. I frequently remind my students to be "I'm 3rd"...giving us true JOY as believers. I find much satisfaction of teaching children educational things along with spiritual truths that will equip them and influence them for life. I had a teacher in 4th grade at Colorado Springs Christian School that impacted me for life. I can't remember much about 6th grade, but I can 4th grade! She had a love for Christ and us students..she made me want to teach and make a difference like she did in my life. I want to be that kind of teacher who loves teaching and impacting students.
    2. What has encouraged or affected me the most is that all children and adults are made in God's image. I have always known that biblical truth, but now that I also teach in the public schools subbing, I see that even more. At Cornerstone Prep, I have asked all my students as a general whole group, "Do you know Christ personally? Is Jesus your Savior and Lord?" I know my job is to encourage children to know Jesus as Savior, have Christ like character and develop a love for Him.
    In the public school days when I substitute teach, I am not being as direct about Christ as I am in the Christian school, but I now realize that all my students I impact each day are made in God's image, whether they are saved or not. All students are to be respected, treated with love and care, and regarded and esteemed. They are creative beings who are capable of this because we were all created to reflect Christ and his character. Sadly, children who never know Christ personally, miss their purpose in life to reflect God and glorify Him because they are made in his image.
    In closing, I like how page 267 wraps up the book in a practical manner. Examine your personal life and relationship to God, examine your classroom practices, and proceed through the transitions necessary to make needed changes.
    We all have room to grow and change at least one thing in our teaching practices. Looking at God's most magnificent creation, humans made in God's image, is one step towards respecting each other in the classroom and encouraging students to be what they were created to be.

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    1. Angela,

      I pray that God will give each of us a time of refreshment so that we can revisit those important questions Graham asks on p. 267.

      Right now, it all seems a little overwhelming. I think some time away and rest will be important to us all. Then, if you are like me, I will look forward to time to reflect, renew, and regroup.

      One small change at a time. God will guide our every step provided we take the time to hear.

      Have enjoyed getting to know you this year!
      Melanie

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    2. You all are great teachers and I know that after a summer of rest, you'll all come back refreshed and ready to implement all that was learned through this reading process. I'll miss all of you!

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    3. Angela- I have to say one of your gifts is to ooze God in all you do! You are always showing the students Christ's love. Evangelism is always on the forefront of your teaching.

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  4. I think one of the things that stands out the most to me is a statement Graham made on p. 266. He said, "Unless the reality of redemption has overhauled the teacher's personal life, implementation of the ideas in this book...will merely be a new set of techniques.

    As I mentioned in my reply to another post, a lot of this seems pretty overwhelming right now. I believe that a little time away will be so refreshing for us all.

    I know that I am very excited about having longer periods of time to spend quietly with the Lord. Because so many of us are called to teach, it won't be long before we will be rejuvenated and ready to evaluate. As we pray for guidance and lean on each other for support, we will begin to move forward with small changes.

    I am so thankful for a school that consistently points us to the most important things. May God richly bless you all over the summer. I have loved getting to know all of you.

    Love,
    Melanie

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    1. I agree! I have noticed that when my spiritual life is lacking, so does every area of my life, especially teaching. When I am not filled with the Lord myself, it is difficult for me to give grace to my students and respond appropriately. While we as teachers are mere sinners ourselves, it is important to strive to be as godly as possible to continuously point our students to Jesus.

      I also agree that when we as teachers don't take time to rest, the job of teaching can seem overwhelming and frustrating. May this summer we all rest in the Lord and come back ready for a fresh beginning!

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  5. As Pat put so well earlier, this book has indeed challenged me and frustrated me throughout the year. The challenge came in when I was introduced to some great ideals that I would love to incorporate into my class, and the frustration in realizing that education the way it stands today is not ready or able to accept or implement many of the ideals Dr. Graham suggested.

    Still, I am encouraged as one year closes and I look ahead to the future. There are many changes that I can make as a Christian educator without redoing everything I know as a teacher. First, I can recognize the sinner that I am myself and give each student the grace that has been poured into my own life like Christ. While I don't know if I will ever be the teacher that lets a student sleep through class, I can watch my response to students and parents, remembering first who I am in Christ. Next, I can create a sense of community in my classroom by going out of my way to encourage students, find out about their personal lives and pray for them on a more regular basis. Finally, I can add more creativity to some stale lessons by remembering that grace gives us the freedom to be creative in Christ. By engaging my students in more meaningful projects and lessons, I hope that will further promote the class community and foster a desire to learn. Personally, I believe that Dr. Graham’s ideals can be overwhelming, but I plan to implement a few the next school year, and give myself lots of grace as I reach toward being a truly redemptive teacher.

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  6. Chapter 26 summarizes, " To teach redemptively, a teacher must live redemptively". Unless redemption is shown in my walk, the ideas and techniques in this book return void. I want God to "ooze" from my walk with Him. This challanging self examination of my relationship with God comes first. Through reading this book, God has shown me many areas of change and new ways of thinking. I am grateful for the opportunity to examine, study and share these new ideas with each of you.

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    1. I agree Cynthia. I have definitely re-examined my relationship with God and what is most important.

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    2. Great reminder Cynthia to "ooze" the grace and love of God all over our students no matter what grade or subject we teach. We have an awesome responsibility as shepherds to "live" the gospel in front of the students not trusting in ourselves but completely allowing the Holy Spirit to do it through us! I am also grateful to have colleagues to share with as we seek to teach more redemptively!

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    3. Cynthia, I liked that statement as well. To be in such a privileged position, as a teacher, and to "ooze" God in front of so many students , think of how many lives could be changed!

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  7. After reading the entire book I believe the one thing I will take away for myself and the way I handle my classroom is a renewed understanding of the meaning of "relationship". Just like Jesus is "radical" in His relationship with us and other people, we need to be radical in the way we relate with our students.
    After our yearly trip to Jekyll Island, I always come back with a better relationship with my students....more relaxed because we know each other better (I am actually learning right along beside them.). If only every grade level could have a time of "building a relationship" at the beginning of the year. It is hard to get to know students well when seeing them only twice a week...not that I want to spend all of my free time with my students!.

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    1. I agree. I love the relationships that I build every year on our Impact trips. You really get to know the students and their struggles and they get to know yours.

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    2. I agree as well ladies. What I cherish the most is the personal relationships I have built with my students. We are much more than a school. I really feel like I am at home when I go to work.

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    3. Close relationships with students bring such joy! It makes teaching so much more than a job and I too hate to see the year end just when we know each other so well! I agree with Terri that I feel at home at CPA!

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    4. I agree with you all! It is so important and rewarding to develop close, personal relationships with your students. Even though I am only with my students two days a week, I still feel as though I am able to develop those close relationships with my students!

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    5. It was such a great classroom experience when my 7th grade math students returned last fall as 8th graders in my Pre-Algebra class. It was a joy to see how they had grown and matured. I am so excited to be teaching a host of students next year that I’ve already taught.

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  8. After reading the book I realized that I need to "ooze" Jesus everyday even on the days when I have a million other things going on. The sheep are always watching the "sheep dog" for direction and the "sheep dog" needs to have its eyes always on the Shepherd. As Dr Graham says, we want to live and teach in a way that makes disciples of Jesus and that is what I want for my students.

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    1. Agreed! It is on the toughest days that we need to do this the most. The students sense our stress and frustration. This impacts them too. If we "ooze" Jesus, then maybe this will pass on to the students who are stressed and frustrated as well. What a wonderful chain reaction that would be. :)

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    2. I agree! This is the time of the school year when everything gets very busy, and it is so easy to forget this during this crazy time. I want them to see Jesus in me in everything I do, and this reminds me to seek His face.

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    3. I definitely agree too! To be able to "ooze" Jesus especially on those days when I am half-dead is the desire of my heart. It is no wonder that our students are often stressed and frustrated when you think about everything that is going on with them away from school.

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    5. I couldn't agree more! "Those" days are when we REALLY have to rely on the Shepherd...the days when we have nothing left. Great point!

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    6. Oozing when the students are oozing other, less pleasant things, is a bit difficult. A constant reminder of God's grace towards us should be ever present as the goal.

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  9. I think what impacted me the most in this book was to focus on my relationship with God. I was reminded to trust in the Lord, not be afraid of making changes, and that it is OK to fail. It was refreshing to hear all of my coworkers in our staff meetings express many of the same fears, challenges, and concerns. I have always been very critical of myself. This book reminded me that God is above all and that with him, I may still have challenges, but he will see me through them. I look forward to what the next year has in store for my students and me. I have definitely been much more flexible and accommodating this year, with out compromising the curriculum. I believe some of the reading and the reminder of why I am doing what I am doing helped to encourage these changes. For this I am truly grateful.

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    1. I agree! Trusting in Him to guide me allows me
      to take the focus off myself and see students as he does.

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    2. I have found myself being more flexible with students--still holding them accountable but allowing them to experience failure and having another opportunity to try again. We all are sinners saved by grace--not perfect but are being perfected through Christ.

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    3. Terri, to me you pointed out the most important thing in this whole book, to focus on my relationship with God. Once I had a Bible study teacher whose consistent prayer request during our time of sharing was that she would be able to keep her eyes on Jesus. When we do this, everything else falls into place.

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  10. With reference to an instructor who had taught him, Dr. Graham said, “We respected him (our teacher), trusted him, and followed his lead. “ (p. 253) It would be a great honor should any of my students recall their time in my classroom with such high regard. Several times this year, I have queried my Pre-Algebra students with: “Who’s got your back?” This is meant for them to realize that I am a strong advocate and ally in their academic world. I use these instances as a reminder that, while I anticipate they can and will achieve the expectations established for them, I will be there to provide the support and teaching necessary (even if required multiple times) to attain success. Metaphorically, I hope this is evident in my classroom as if I am a trainer conditioning an athlete to a run the race as described by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 9:24-27. In this role I sometimes encourage, sometimes inspire, sometimes cajole, sometimes discipline, and sometimes even demand that students grow and improve academically, intellectually, and socially, but the ultimate achievement remains the attainment of the prize of a life lived in service and devotion to the Lord. If I can gain their respect that leads to trust, then I will perpetually endeavor to live my life as a reflection of Christ and lead them to doing likewise.

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    1. I loved the section of this chapter when Dr. Graham talked about the teacher who impacted him so much. I thought the same thing...what an honor!

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  11. I have really enjoyed the last four chapters of this book and the reminders or perspective given that to teach redemptively, we must live redemptively making disciples of those students in our classes! That is an amazing blessing and responsibility! That keeps me on my face seeking the Holy Spirit's leading for every step. I loved the "permission" given to slow down and spend more unhurried time with our Father who longs to be with us! I loved the emphasis on radical grace that we can experience and overflow onto our students! Let the flow continue...

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  12. Challenging, frustrating, but thought provoking--yes! So many times after reading the chapters in this book I felt like Graham's perspective was wonderful but left me at a loss to implement this approach. But when I took a step back and allowed Holy Spirit to teach me how to receive and live through the grace that He has for me, the pressure of the "how and the when" was released. I am very thankful His grace.

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    1. So thankful for His grace! Even with our best intentions, we are not always going to hit the mark. There is such peace in knowing that!

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  13. In chapter 26 there were many points in Donovan's discussion about the radical grace of Jesus that made an impact on me. I love that "grace comes alive when things go wrong, when people mess up..." When things aren't going smoothly in my classroom, I can look at it in a positive way as an opportunity to show grace, instead of being frustrated with behavior or circumstances. "Grace sets us free to live out the image of God placed within us." Each student we encounter should be moving towards becoming who God fully intended them to be. What a privilege we have to encourage them and help them grow!

    Reading this chapter also made me examine my walk with God. In doing so, I realized that lately I have been missing some important time with Him, the time when I am not active. I miss that quiet time of stillness and listening, that time of "...abiding in God, delighting in His presence, trusting Him with the time, and believing that He delights in my presence as well." I will be deliberate in pursuing this time with my Lord; I know that this would make a difference in me that would be evident to my students.

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  14. Chapter 27 opens by stating that, "teaching redemptively is a significant challenge." I wholeheartedly agree, and left to myself I would fail miserably. I believe the only way I might "ooze" God is to rely on Him and not myself.
    What affected me most about this book was the way Graham refers to us (our students and ourselves) as image-bearers of God. This is a truth I knew (Genesis 1:26-27), but I had never reflected on in the depth or complexity that Graham writes about.

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  15. In the last few chapters of the book, we are encouraged to examine ourselves and our relationship with the Lord. This is crucial as we seek to guide and "shepherd" our students. To form the relationships with these students and to allow God to "ooze" out of us and our classrooms, our time spent in the Word and prayer is essential.

    Also, I love when I am trying to teach something in my classroom, and my planned lesson goes a different way and growth is still evident in my students. When I first started teaching, it was so important to finish the chapter or concept by the end of the class, and there are times I am still tempted to do this, but I love the freedom that comes when we are open to trying new things and listening to the needs of our students. Above all, I treasure my relationships with my students. I don't think I can accomplish much with them if I don't form relationships and show them I care.

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  16. Teaching Redemptively was full of ideas that seemd to be perfect on paper, but I questioned how they would work in an actual classroom. For example, to test or not to test. Behavior being directed by relationships not rules. It seems more of a Utopian world than a possible one. If every student fit the perfect mold, then all would go along fine. But as pointed out, we are all fallen and don't fit a perfect mold. That being said, there were many great concepts to consider for use in the classroom/school setting. I believe we schould always bring grace and truth into the classroom/school. Govern with Christlike hearts. We should continually strive to reflect God's character in all areas of teaching. I am thankful that the Lord has a never ending supply of grace for my life. I hope that I pass this along to my students. One concept that impressed me was teaching students that failure is a part of the learning process - a step towards success. Helping them to view school(learning) as a bigger picture - through God's eyes, may help them see it more as a gift.

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    1. Beautifully said, Lisa. We neither teach nor live in a Utopian society. I am reminded of my own fallen nature every day. I, too, am thankful for God's grace in my life and am seeking to achieve the correct balance of grace and accountability for my students. I want my students to learn to value the learning process, not just the finish line.

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    2. Lisa, you touched on one aspect that I questioned from our reading earlier in the year--the idea of using a reward system for classroom management. In the book it is viewed as a negative approach. And as you said, that may be true of a Utopian world. However, it does make me take a step back and remind myself--and my students--who we are glorifying as we go about our daily routine.

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  17. One thing that stood out to me towards the end of the book was the section on the radical grace of Jesus. Most interesting to me was the statement, "Grace is also disruptive." So true! When you want a day that runs totally smoothly, and you have to stop, go back, and even change directions in order to make sure that each child receives that grace, it's disruptive! Sometimes I find myself wanting to move on, keep going, but needing to stop. I love that this book gives the "permission" to stop, slow down, look at each child, and create a classroom that reflects the love of God towards each one of us. Past all the knowledge that we hope and pray they all learn, these children are going to remember how we made them feel. How they felt in our classrooms and in the school.
    I remember asking my son, Matt, one day about which teachers were his favorites. I was a little surprised to learn that his favorite teachers at that time were the ones who often had higher expectations of him than others. When I asked him about it, he said, "Mom, those teachers were nice, but these LOVE me." He was eight years old, and he knew the difference.

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  18. Reading, reflecting, and sharing this book with everyone has been an interesting journey. Some chapters have left me evaluating my classroom, while others have left me examining my walk with the Lord. Just knowing that God designed them to go hand in hand is an amazing thing! It is exactly the way He wants it to be! Near the end of the book, Dr. Graham writes, "life with God flows out of our being into the lives of our students." I will keep striving for that everyday!

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  19. Teaching Redemptively has been a challenging personally and professionally for me. There were many times I felt the author was speaking directly to me and challenging me as a person and as a teacher. I am very focused at school which sometimes is a negative for me as I forget to slow down and focus on the spiritual part of the students as well as the academic. It often feels there is so little time to get "it all in" but this book reminded me that the spiritual teaching is just as important. I have looked for ways this year to be able to integrate the spiritual with the academic.
    I am grateful for God's grace and mercy that help me to become better in all these ways. It is only through yielding my life to HIm each day that I am able to be the teacher/mom/friend/worker, etc that God has called me to be.
    This book also challenged me to think about my classroom and what is important and what is not as important. There were some parts of the book that I felt were great ideas on paper, but more difficult to implement in the classroom. However, it challenged me to think about what I believe, why I believe it, and what I am doing to bring those beliefs to my teaching.

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  20. I also found this book a challenging read, dusting off my thesaurus trying to decipher several of Dr. Graham's words. I really found the meat of this book in the last few chapters.

    The last few months I have examined the way I teach and have found areas that are in need of change:
    *Giving students ownership of study material instead of spoon-feeding them notes.
    *Being available to students that seem to be lingering after class in need of conversation instead of worrying about the prep for the next class.
    *Learning to trust my students enough to share what's on my heart so that in turn they feel at ease to share their own concerns.

    Thanks to the Holy Spirit, I do believe this old "sheepdog" can learn new tricks!

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    1. I am so thankful we are in this together, Susan. I love our little community of teachers at Cornerstone. I treasure the caring, sharing of ideas, and encouragement I receive from fellow teachers.

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  21. I found Teaching Redemptively to be a very challenging read as an indivdual and as a teacher. One of the biggest parts of the book that spoke to me as a teacher was to slow down and enjoy each individual child! It is so easy to rush, rush, rush, and overlook specific needs that the student might have. Especially, toward the end of the year we all feel the crunch to get everything done!

    One thing, I have learned though is that it is not about quantity and more about quality! I used to be very worried and stressed if I didn't finish the whole book by the end of the school year. Now, I realize sometimes, especially in our school setting, that is not possible. I want to make sure my students get the most they can out of their lessons. I want them to actually learn the material and not just move on to the a new lesson just because it is time. I feel this is much more beneifical and I feel that Teaching Redemptively has showed me this.

    Thanks Pat and Kyle for sharing this with us, and allowing us this wonderful opportunity!

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    1. You are so right Melissa! We do tend to let the curriculum take over sometimes and just see the students as the test score. As Christian teachers we definitely know better as we have a God-given purpose!

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  22. I agree with so many others that reading this book has been challenging, thought-provoking, and at times frustrating. In this last reading about our hearts as disciple makers, I was reminded of the section earlier where Dr. Graham spoke of teachers as shepherds. As we walk as disciples of Christ ourselves, we are also shepherding these young ones in their own walk. We won't always get it right and neither will they. That's where grace comes in. I love the line in the book: "Grace comes alive when things go wrong, when people mess up, when fairness does not seem to prevail." God is constantly reminding me that I am not the one in control. As I seek to build loving, nurturing relationships with my students I want to be willing to set aside my lesson for the day when the hearts of my students need shepherding and when there is the need for an eternal lesson.

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    1. Although this is sometimes a hard reality, it is good to be reminded that we are NOT in control but our good and wise Father is. I want to be sensitive to the Spirit in moments where He is telling me to share truth with my students. I don't want to be so focused on "my" plan.

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    2. God's grace truly is AMAZING. I love this quote from the book also about grace.

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  23. I freely admit this was not a book I would choose to read on my own and I found myself wanting to find Teaching Redemptively 101 or Teaching Redemptively the Cliff's Notes or Teaching Redemptively for Dummies. Both the teaching and spiritual nuggets were good, but it was hard sifting for the gold. Maybe this blog will condense some of the key ideas or one of you will take the challenge to list the key nuggets for all of us to review and hopefully apply. The title of the book is both a call and challenge. I do want to teach more Biblically than I hope I have already been teaching. (pushing 4 decades now)

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  24. After reading this book, I realized that I need to feel comfortable with extending grace and mercy in the classroom, to all students, as well as myself. As Dr. Graham explains, we do get caught up in grades and I tend to focus on test results. I often feel despair when a student or two just doesn't seem to "get it." Through reading this book, I have realized I need to have courage to change things that may not be working to assure the learning of each and every student in the classroom, but also realize that I am human and fallen, and may fail a few times before I get it right. Dr. Graham reminds us often that we are fallen image bearers, and God extends us continuous Mercy and Grace and we should focus on having a mercy-FULL and grace-FULL classroom.

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    1. I love your comments Melissa! Giving grace seems to be a common piece a lot of us took away from the book. I feel the same way when my students do not perform well on the test. I feel like maybe I failed them and I'm sometimes at a loss for how else I can explain (it's difficult especially with Math). I want to be able to step outside the box and find other more creative ways to teach the material.

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  25. I really liked his comments in this last chapter about grace. "When everything is clean, neat, and tidy and students are well behaved and they do what we ask them to do, grace does not show up - it stays home, asleep." p.256. To be honest, it is much easier for me to work for clean, neat, and tidy than to create an environment of grace! This book challenged me in many ways and given me a lot to think about (too much actually-my brain hurts). I like the idea of getting with others and working through how this actually looks in the classroom.
    I am overwhelmed my many of these ideas - but glad to be at a school where we are challenged to think about them.

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    1. I almost posted this same quote, Sherry. It really struck me because I, too, lean heavily towards neat and tidy. (One may not think so when one passes by my room and sees newspaper and wheat paste for paper mache all over the place!) Dr. Graham's description of radical grace and what it can look like in the classroom are very challenging to me.

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    2. I too was impacted by this quote. I hadn't thought about it that way--but grace does come alive when things go wrong or when we mess up. It seems when I am having a particularly busy or challenging day in the classroom, that is when grace shows up--and often times, it is through the kind words of one of my precious students.

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    3. I find it difficult to let go of boundaries and constraints in an effort to have an organized, efficient, effective classroom. But when I allow for creativity and discovery based education, being a facilitator instead of an instructor, the learning and excitement seems to be contagious. Those are the classes when I am awed by what the students can produce and demonstrate.

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  26. Reading Dr. Graham's book has been an adventure. I enjoyed the opportunity to stretch my mind and my comfort level. It is going to be exciting to try some of his suggestions and I can't wait to make a plan to get started with my new class in the fall. Two things have really grabbed my attention..I am looking forward to continuing to study our role as the Shepherd and how Christ so humbly serves as our Good Shepherd. All of the sections on grace have touched my soul and spirit. I am anxious for some quiet time this summer to dwell on all that I have learned.

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    1. Being uncomfortable. Isn't that the new "comfortable"? Changing our thinking is the "easy" part, getting students on board with the de-emphasis on grades and parents on board with the tough love and higher challenge for the students will be the bigger task. Here comes the mountain...

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  27. I think that the life of God flows out of me in the classroom when I’m authentic, competent, and creative. I will refrain from being too specific about how that looks in any practical way, à la Dr. Graham, but suffice it to say, I hope that when students see me, they see a teacher who needs grace and finds it in Christ. I also find that when I intentionally view students as God’s image-bearers, entrusted to my care for more than merely educational reasons, I tend to bring even more passion and effort to the classroom because every step in the process of planning and executing lessons takes on a greater significance. I’ve enjoyed gleaning insights from Dr. Graham’s book.

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    1. I hope that my students see that I rely on God's grace to sustain my as well. Students need to see that we are just like them sinners in need of a great Savior.

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  28. Although difficult to get through at times, I have really been challenged by Dr. Graham's book. My main takeaway from this study has been rememberin​g the weight of my teaching responsibi​lity. Reading this book has made me consciousl​y consider my decisions and teaching methods in the classroom. Teaching is more than a job if one considers himself an image bearer of Christ. It is a calling that comes with great responsibi​lity and, on a good day, great reward! =) It was good to continuall​y be reminded of that all throughout the year. I also enjoyed the variety of activities that Pat and Kyle assigned. I do wish that Dr. Graham would have made his points more easily accessible​. His style made the read less enjoyable.

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    1. I agree, teaching is a calling! Our students spend time with us, look up to us, and we will have an impact on them (good or bad).

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    2. Kristin - you have inspired your students with your gentleness and creativity, using only one hour each week... I celebrate you!

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  29. POSTED for Claire Mozley:
    This book has been challenging, encouraging and life giving to me. I have loved it and actually 'hated' it. :} (He did tell us to be honest and true to ourselves!)

    Teaching Redemptively has taught me so much. It has helped me reevaluate my teaching, my techniques and my attitude about my students' growth.

    I'm so thankful to teach classes that are life giving...especially the Humanities class. I have seen my students grow in amazing ways with their self discovery, their understanding of the Word and their spiritual growth as they look at the Bible and at life from 'growing up' eyes.

    The challenges and ideas in Teaching Redemptively have encouraged me to go deeper in our discussions, to allow the freedom of student opinions, questions and thoughts to go 'beyond the lesson plan'. We have had some amazing discussions and I have seen students begin digging deeper into the Word to find their own answers to the questions that are posed in class.

    Through reading Teaching Redemptively, I have also grown in my understanding of God's grace. I have been challenged to think more clearly and personally about how I experience and understand God's grace and also how I see it (and expect it) in the lives of my students. I have felt more freedom in 'giving' grace as I have read, interacted with and understood Dr. Graham's writings.

    There is so much more to say...but the thing that stands out to me even as I type this blog response is that "redemptively" isn't even a word according to spell check! So, the idea of teaching redemptively is new, different and way outside the box. But it is, at the same time, life giving and freeing as we experience God's redemption and then enjoy the privilege of modeling it in our personal and professional lives.

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    1. Claire,

      That is so amazing how this book has impacted you. I too agree and wrote about how God's grace is astounding, and a great reminder to give grace upon grace in our own classrooms. I hope moving into next year I can really put focus on going "beyond the lesson plan". I would love to make lessons more impactful so the students really remember the concepts moving forward.

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  30. Teaching Redemptively has opened my eyes to the great privilege I have been given by being a teacher. I get to observe the many characteristics and attributes of God through all of my students. This book has challenged me to look at my students differently. They are image bearers of our wonderful and holy God not just students sitting in a classroom. It is my job to make disciples out of them and point them to Jesus. I do this by walking with God myself and extending “radical” grace. Grace will allow my students to really experience who they are in Christ.

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  31. This being my first year teaching, I have taken away a lot of strategies and eye-opening perspectives. I also agree that the book was not light reading, but Dr. Graham filled it with thought-provoking points and challenges.

    While reading Teaching Redemptively I really thought about the grace that God pours out on us. I loved how Dr. Graham stated we are all image bearers of the Lord, including our students. God gives us grace upon grace and is patient beyond our understanding, so I loved the correlation of this to our jobs as teachers. I also loved the emphasis is always on Jesus. He is more important than the grades received. Lastly, I loved the challenge of stepping outside of the textbook and creating activities for students to use their critical thinking skills. I hope to incorporate these types of memorable lessons so the students will retain the material more proficiently.

    I really loved the different methods Pat and Kyle used to help us relay our thoughts about the book. The venn diagram, socratic circle, and picture drawing were some that stood out to me. These activities were much better than just talking about what we liked most about the chapters. I'm sure when we take the time to incorporate different activities like these in our classrooms; the students like it better too.
    I love being at a school that challenges me and helps me grow.

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  32. Oozing Christ is not always how my students would describe their teacher in class. I hope that as I begin to uncomfortably implement some of the ideas from Graham they become more comfortable in application. I also pray that students, parents, and peers will see and respect the difference and be oozed upon as I journey with them.
    In another book I recently read, the author, Kim Brenneman, beautifully speaks the desire of my heart in approaching the days: "Yes, it may be a 'bad' day, but if we cultivate an attitude centered on bringing glory to God and doing our work heartily as unto the Lord, that bad day will be looked at with supernatural eyes. The interruptions and things that go wrong - the pressures that build and even explode around us - are serving some purpose that we may never know the reason for. Some moments you just have to pray, 'Your will be done,' and there are some days that we will have to pray this prayer unceasingly. When we seek God's will first and do His will joyfully, we can make it from dawn to dusk and beyond with His strength."

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  33. This book was such a wonderful challenge to me as I started my time here at Cornerstone. Coming in mid year, there has been a fair amount of catch up along the way and this book has helped me keep things in perspective. Each chapter reminded me that even in the midst of all grammar, Wordly Wise, Write with the World, etc. the most important thing is to glorify the Lord. I feel very blessed to begin teaching in such an encouraging environment. I hope that I can continue to grow in this area and surrender my classroom more and more to the Lord.

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  34. Dr. Graham really opened my eyes as a Christian teacher and the Image I need to portray each day. Isn't it wonderful when we can see the Image in our students also! The privilege of giving this kind of grace helps you see for just a little while through the eyes of Jesus. The students all have their own spiritual gifts and special traits and when you can get past the classroom and see them as the child of God that they could be it is amazing. I feel that you can only do this by seeing the big picture. The school year needs to look like a puzzle. The grades, curriculum, assignments, projects are all very important pieces but we would be missing the point of being a teacher if we just left it there. I hope the students in my class saw love, mercy, grace,and encouragement on the days they were with me. Those pieces would complete the puzzle!

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  35. Below is an online summary of TR from Christian Book Distributors-seems to sum up what you all are expressing from your hearts! Love you all and it has been a blessing to journey through Teaching Redemptively with you! I have been blessed by you!

    ~Most Christian schools today are the very representation of the law: rules are meted out in a system where no one can succeed; rewards of high grades and privileges are based upon the 'good works' of the students; and students' education only applies to the cerebral, fill-in-the-blank world of the modern classroom. Advocating a radically different approach, Donovan Graham writes of a grace-filled classroom, teachers that model their humanity, struggles and triumphs that Christ has brought them, and students that are taught to think and actually live out Christianity; instead of rules and systems, students are dealt with individually, and in Christ like fashion--sometimes with grace, sometimes with justice. Presenting a detailed thesis on how "Teaching Redemptively" works practically, and the under girding theological elements, "Teaching Redemptively" offers a new perspective on the integration of Christ-likeness into all aspects of life.

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  36. Ha ha - I'm totally taking some of my own medicine! I give the students and their parents a hard time when they hand in late assignments,.. and here I am 'handing' in my assignment LATE... Sorry Pat, sorry Kyle...
    Grace... oh gosh, how I have sorely needed a double,.. no,.. triple measure of grace from the Mercy Seat lately.

    In 'Examining My Life, Alone' (Teaching Redemptively, p268) the following question is asked - "How is the grace of Jesus so radical... in my life?.." (Teaching Redemptively, p268).

    "Grace comes alive when things go wrong, when people mess up, when fairness does not seem to prevail." (Teaching Redemptively, p256) I think that I learned to teach the 'old-fashioned' way - one's worth and ability was defined by the level of control one exerted in the classroom... HOW FRUSTRATING!..

    The grace of God (and Brenda Fitzgerald's teacher training at the School Box) has, to a large extent, set me free from that. I realize that things have to go wrong (please Jesus not too wrong!!..), things have get messy in the classroom, in my mood, in the students' behavior,.. in order for Jesus to bring revelation, healing and health back to our hearts.

    Thank you, Beautiful Savior.

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