crossteach Training Day

As we do every year, the whole team got together at Highgate Road Chapel, London, for a day of training.

It is always a joy to all come together and catch up as well as stretch ourselves and develop new skills.

In light of our internal review and revision of our mission, aims and approach, we took the opportunity to reflect on all of this and consider how this might impact the work we do in schools. At the core, we have not made any fundamental changes. crossteach was established to teach about the Christian faith in schools and that is what we continue to do. We feel more confident about why we do this and how we do this and feel our work will improve greatly as a result of the thinking and planning we have done.

We spent some time considering The Parable of the Soils. We wanted to consider what it might have to say to our work and how we do things. As always, diving into God’s Word reveals encouragements and challenges.

We were greatly encouraged that Jesus instructs his followers to be ‘sowing seed’. That is, teaching others about the Christian faith. It is clear that if people are to know about Jesus and what Christians believe, someone needs to be teaching them.

It was also an encouragement to remember that Jesus taught us not to be surprised when we experience different responses to what we teach. We see a range of responses in the pupils we meet from outright rejection, through uncertainty, to those who would call themselves Christians and share our beliefs.

As an educational charity we do not measure our success by whether or not pupils believe the same as us and, therefore, are not in schools trying to convert young people. We are seeking to improve their knowledge of what Christians believe, give them opportunities to develop their own views and beliefs and encourage spiritual development. It is reassuring, as Christians, to know God does not measure our success by how many believe what we teach either. He wants us to be like the farmer in the parable: willing and faithful teachers who teach about the Christian faith whenever and wherever we have opportunity. It is very easy, when reading such parables in the Bible, to think of how it applies to others. A challenge to all of us was ‘are we good soil?’ Are we listening to God’s Word and responding in faith and obedience so that a crop might be produced in our lives? Before we worry about the response of others, we should give some time and thought to our own response to what God says.

To extend ourselves as teachers, we spent a session looking at lower order and higher order thinking, based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. In simple terms, it is very similar to the aims of RE: pupils learn about religion (knowledge, comprehension and application) and they learn from religion (analysis, synthesis and evaluation).

We spent some time learning the difference between activities and questions that fall into the lower order section and those in the higher order section. The team then had the opportunity to plan some activities and questions for a specific topic that would provide opportunities to both learn about and learn from. The higher order questions and activities in particular will give us a great tool for encouraging and enabling pupils to respond to the Christian faith, for critical enquiry and thoughtful reflection.

It was a great day where we affirmed the work we do and reassured ourselves it falls within both what God has called us to and what is educationally good for the pupils we work with.