Monday, 30 April 2018

Reminders of Connectedness

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12

We know from the research that ‘connectedness’ and a sense of ‘belonging’ are very powerful keys to wellbeing for both adults and children.

In our schools, we know how painful it can be for our students who deal with social exclusion. As teachers and Chaplains, we are often asked to support families where students are dealing with social rejection.

The Greater Good Science Centre has many articles and ideas to help us navigate these difficult social situations. Here is one of their great ideas, copied directly from their website.  
It is called, Reminders of Connectedness.

Take 10 minutes to complete the first three steps; after that, the amount of time it will take to complete the rest will vary. Try to go through this exercise at least once per month. After evaluating your classroom, office, or a room in your home, next month consider another room or environment over which you have control.

1. Take a moment to look around your home, office, or classroom. What kinds of objects, words, and images surround you?
2. Count how many of these objects, words, and images are related to social connectedness. This could include pictures of people interacting, words like “community,” “together,” or “friendship,” or even two stuffed animals facing one another on a shelf.
3. Notice whether there are any empty walls or shelves where you could add new objects related to connectedness, or places where you could replace existing objects.
4. Next time you’re out shopping, looking through your belongings, or (for parents or teachers) developing an art project for your children or students, see if you can find objects that evoke connection, even in a subtle way, and use them to fill these empty places or to replace existing objects.
5. Finally, consider how the furniture in this room is arranged. Are chairs facing toward or away from each other? Are there common spaces that are conducive to social interaction? Rearranging the layout of your home, office, or classroom can also help to promote feelings of connectedness.

So who should try this? 

"Research suggests that humans have a strong propensity for kindness and generosity, and that kindness improves the health and happiness of the giver, not only of the receiver. But we don't always act on our altruistic instincts.

Fortunately, studies have identified ways to elicit people’s deeply rooted propensities for kindness. One of the most effective is to evoke a sense of connectedness among people. Research suggests that even subtle reminders of connection, operating below the conscious level, can lead to concrete, measurable increases in altruistic behaviour. This exercise walks you through the process of considering how you can add reminders of social connection to your home, office, or classroom." 

There are so many Bible stories about ‘connectedness’.  Why not explore the story of Jesus choosing his disciples? This can then be developed in to lessons about friendship, compassion, support and caring. Enjoy connecting with your students and your school community.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Don't keep history a mystery

The theme for National Reconciliation Week this year is "Don't keep history a mystery?" Resources can be found at Reconciliation Australia. But what is National Reconciliation Week?

These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively. 
  National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

 Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Check out the website for more information.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A Passion for Proverbs

Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise. Proverbs 6:6

I am always excited and delighted when I hear that Chaplains and religious educators are discussing Proverbs with their students. 

It is a wonderful way to open discussions on wisdom, making choices, ethics and values. Proverbs encourage deep thinking and reflection and can be absolutely transformative in the lives of our students.

Martin Luther was famous for the discussions he had with friends and students and these discussions and topics are collected in the book, Table Talk. Maybe we could foster the same great style of discussion in our schools through the use of Proverbs?

Imagine if you could get your entire school thinking about Proverbs?

The discussions and debate would foster deep critical thinking and powerful learning. Try asking your students to think about the difference between being smart and being wise.

Proverbs can help us with relationships, our behaviour and more. Study a selection of Proverbs and see where the discussion leads. 

  • Bless others with compliments: Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Proverbs 16:24) 
  • Learn to control desires: A Man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)
  • Hold your tongue: Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)

Have a look at the videos included, but think about how appropriate they are for your students. 

And of course - it is always great to end with a song!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Aim Lower

In this year of Generations Together, we are challenged to connect across the generations. It is often the case that in the Church, we love our youngest people but sometimes we don’t always realise their importance in the life of the church or our school community. We may adore the little children, but are we truly empowering them and meeting their needs.
If you need to think a little more deeply about the significance of our children in the church family, have a look at this website.

If you haven’t spent much time on this website, then at least take the time to look at the video for 5.22 minutes. The motto of Aim Lower is ‘serving together until every child discovers Jesus’.

What a wonderful way for all Anglican schools to look at their roles. While we may often be in competition over sporting accolades, debating matters or OP scores, surely we are united in our desire to serve the children in our care and let them know the story of the Gospel.

Why not open the discussion about empowering our students at your school? You may not wish to join the movements around the world looking at ways to help children encounter Jesus Christ, but why not invite your schools and students to join the conversation within your own community?

1for50 is a global grassroots movement that equips local leaders around the world to impact the next generation for Christ. Children are the future, but they are also the present. 1for50 encourages us to imagine the possibilities of empowering our children.

Perhaps use this as an introduction to a Unit on the Great Commission.

 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

Lesson Opener – in Circle Time, ask your students to share one really good thing that happened to them – sharing a little good news with friends! Why do we like to share good news? How do we feel when we hear good news?

Open the dialogue with your students. Let them do a Think Pair Share based on questions such as:-
  Why should we tell other children about Jesus?
  How can learning about Jesus empower us or make our lives any better?

For deeper thinking, why not let your class debate the topic; “All children need to be told about Jesus Christ.” Use proper QDU rules and maybe have teams swap sides after each debate. Encourage your students to think of their own debate topics.

Now for great fun, set up a great Dominoes activity to show students the idea of passing on stories, connecting with others and sharing the Good News.

There are so many great YouTube videos to show the students how to do this – but don’t forget to let the students create their own dominoes display and explain the meaning. Such creative fun. Enjoy. Remember to film the students' efforts to watch with them later!