“We live inside an unfinished story, a story that began with the Spirit of God hovering over the primordial waters at the beginning of time and which took a dramatic, climactic turn two thousand years ago when that same God became human, lived among us, and beat death once and for all. We share this story with Mary Magdalene and the apostle Paul. We share it with Saint Augustine and Julian of Norwich, Desmond Tutu and Leymah Gbowee. We share it with the pastor who runs the soup kitchen out of the church basement and with the first guy in line to eat there each week.
The stories we tell with our lives, then, aren’t meaningless absurdities, tragic in their brevity, but rather subplots of a grander narrative, every moment charged with significance, as we contribute our own riffs, soliloquies, and plot twists to the larger epic, the Holy Spirit coaxing us along with an ever-ebullient, And then? And then? And then?” (Evans, 217).
Teaching for Transformation (TfT) teachers seek to unveil the profound narrative their students are part of as they invite, nurture, and empower students inside and outside of the classroom to live into God’s unfinished story.
LG3: Learn, Grow, Go, Glorify
This past school year, Jill, a fourth grade teacher, embraced her school’s storyline, “LG3: Learn, Grow, Go, Glorify,” because it set the stage for learning that invited students into God’s grand narrative. She helped her students see their place in God’s story in an integrated unit incorporating literature, Bible, and social studies. After exploring Linda Sue Park’s novel, A Long Walk to Water, which shares the experience of refugees who fled from civil war in Sudan, Jill worked alongside her students, researching the people and countries affected by the war. She shared, “One of our focuses was for students to see that though they differ in so many ways with the main characters in their book, they still have so many things in common, and that we are all created in the image of God.”
In the meantime, her students were also studying goods and services as they learned about entrepreneurship. Recognizing that the TfT framework encourages students to get involved with real work, interacting with real people and meeting real needs, Jill was able to make these two paths of study intersect and to provide an opportunity for students to dig deeper by facilitating a meeting with local refugees at a local immersion center.
Depending on the student’s age, the concept of image reflecting may be difficult to grasp.
Evans, Rachel Held. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. Nashville: Nelson, 2018.
Jill Van Soelen is the library media specialist at Sioux Center Christian School and serves on the school’s TfT leadership team.
The following elementary teachers are referenced in this article:
Jill Engel has taught for twenty-eight years and currently teaches fourth grade at Sioux Falls Christian Schools in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Kristen Hatate has taught for nineteen years and currently teaches kindergarten at Three Points Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington.
Michaela Rozeboom has taught first grade for two years at Sioux Center Christian School in Sioux Center, Iowa.