The Power in Collaboration
January 26, 2023
Heather Nerem, Head of Academics
As a Christian Professional Learning Community, DMC values learning and growth through the power of collaboration. We know that God created us to work together. This is His design shown throughout the Word of God. The first scripture that came to mind was Proverbs 27:17: Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. However, you can find scripture after scripture on the importance of community and working together in unity.
To be in alignment with God's design, we are continuing to examine and look at how our professional development structures foster collaboration for teachers. We desire to strengthen our collaborative culture by carving out intentional time for our teachers to work together for each child's learning. We believe, "Quality teaching is not an individual accomplishment, it is the result of a collaborative culture that empowers teachers to team up to improve student learning beyond what any one of them can achieve alone." (Carroll, 2009).
Our recent professional development days were packed with opportunities to be a collaborative community in Christ.
Overarching Question of a Christian Professional Learning Community: What are we intentionally doing to be a disciple-making school?
In order for our students to be equipped and nurtured to impact the world for Christ, our teachers must also be equipped and nurtured to impact our students. Professional development days are our opportunity to do just that. During our January PD, we focused on collaboration and how that is one of our best tools to being a disciple-making school. God has blessed us each with gifts and talents and we know they are best used together for His good and His glory. Fixing our gaze on Jesus and remembering our ultimate collaboration is done with Him, is how we began our PD. Teachers and staff came together for a time of worship and a special message from Mark Sisler on the power of prayer. We were all left with encouragement and practical action steps to model prayer to each other and our students. Collaboration was also key in different sessions such as our champion groups, CBRR (Creation - Brokenness - Redemption - Restoration), instruction and assessment teams. Giving our teachers this time to learn and grow from each other helps form the unity we need for each child to succeed in their learning and become disciples for Christ.
Fundamental Shift of a Christian Professional Learning Community: From a Focus on Teaching to a Focus on Learning
Another highlight, which was a continuation from our October professional development, was the time teachers were given to collaborate with each other on the question: "What do we want students to learn?" However; this time, we focused on the essential learnings for the heart rather than the mind.
Our Middle School and High School Bible teachers helped facilitate this work. Our Bible teachers shared that the heart learning is what sets us apart at DMC. It is the unique gift/blessing that comes with working here. The heart of DMC is to be so much more than just chapels and Bible classes added to a traditional school. We desire to have a Biblical Worldview infused throughout each class throughout the day. Our Bible teachers shared tools to help our teachers make Biblical Worldview integration an organic, intentional, owned and flexible approach.
Teachers were then provided with collaborative time to reflect and plan on how to make Biblical Worldview Infusion more evident in their classroom. We also have a group of twenty teachers who are being provided with more in-depth learning on Biblical Worldview Infusion, which is being led by Brandon Smeltzer. This group of twenty teachers are championing this work throughout our school as well.
As I have reflected on these professional development days, I am in awe and filled with gratitude to the Lord for how He is working. We are excited about this work and continue to pray and ask the Lord to continue to move in each child's heart.