How can you help your students understand that a Biblical perspective can be applied to course content?
Me: Tell me more about this.
You: Well, on assignments, they show their thinking, but without referring the Bible. Or they come up with object lessons (which are interesting), instead of applying a biblical perspective to the learning.
Me: Anything else?
You: Sometimes I feel like they don’t think a biblical perspective can or should be applied to course content. Like I’m trying to do something that’s not really possible, and they’ll just wait me out. Sometimes it’s discouraging.
Me: So you think your students think the Bible applies at home, church, and the “spiritual” parts of school?
You: Yes, I guess so. I mean, they’re good kids, but they just don’t seem to get it. I’ve been praying about this, and I want my students to get this. During this coaching session, I’d like to develop a doable action plan to help my students understand that a biblical perspective can be applied to course content.
Me: OK, you’ve identified your goal and you’ve been praying about it. Would you like to explore options?
Me: How could you help your students understand that the Bible applies to what they are learning in your class?
You: I could tell them how I use a biblical perspective. I could put posters up that have biblical perspective statements on them, have them apply biblical principles to a case study, memorize and apply a verse during our next unit. And I could teach them a biblical perspective of wealth.
Me: What else?
You: I could teach them a biblical perspective of social studies. Well, I could have guest speakers talk about how they use a biblical perspective in their jobs. And I could ask my students questions like, “How can I be a wise steward?”
Me: What else?
You: I could have them read articles written by Christians who are applying a biblical perspective.
Me: Anything else?
You: No. I think that’s good.
Me: OK, you’ve identified 9 things you could do. And you said you want to come up with a doable action plan.
You: That’s right. I think I’d like to start with 1 thing and go from there.
Me: What action step would you like to take?
You: I think I’d like to start by getting them to just do it—just get them using a biblical perspective. I’d like to start with having them apply biblical teaching to a case study related to content in our next unit.
Me: On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to using a case study?
You: About at a 7.
Me: What would it take for you to move to a 9 or 10?
You: I’ll share my goal with my principal as soon as we close. That’ll move my commitment level to a 9. Hey, I just figured out that we used the IDEAL process. I identified and defined the problem, explored options, and got ready to act. Now I need to act and look at the results, right?
Me: Right. What insights did you have during our session?
You: I discovered that there are quite a few things I can do to help my students understand that the Bible applies to course content. Quite encouraging. See you next week.
Teachers, to what extent does this describe your thinking? Principals, to what extent does this describe your teachers’ thinking?
I’m not sure how my faith is related to my subject area. My family and my church talk about being a Christian, living for Jesus, doing devotions, and telling others about Jesus. But I’m not sure I could explain a biblical perspective of my course content. I think other teachers might get this, so I don’t want to bring it up.
If the above describes your thinking or the thinking of your staff, what are 5 things you could do to increase your understanding of a biblical perspective of your subject area? Pick one and implement it. Today.
You think: “Yes, we think understanding and using a biblical perspective of course content is important. This is a Christian school. We are Christian teachers. How can she think we don’t think a biblical perspective of course content is important? Just because we don’t assess it, grade it, or talk with students about low performance? Why does she think that? Well, maybe she doesn’t think it’s important because we don’t really treat biblical perspective like we do other things we consider important.”
Your goal? You want your students to increase their understanding and use of a biblical perspective of course content. (You know that the more your students feel this is important, the more likely they are to learn. Which means that if your students don’t feel that understanding and using a biblical perspective of course content is important, they are less likely to learn.)
Your reality? Find out what the real reality is before proceeding. The student you overheard might have been having a bad day, be in the minority, or be right on target. Find out by asking your students and by reflecting on your teaching practice.
(1) Ask your students what they think. Share what you heard and invite their responses. Or give a survey in which you ask them to identify (1) how important they think understanding and using a biblical perspective of course content is and (2) how you demonstrate its importance during instructional time.
(2) Reflect your teaching practice by developing 3 fractions: In your last unit or during the last week of instruction in 1 class:
- # of lessons in which you taught a biblical
perspective of course content / total # of lessons
- # of class minutes students learned about
biblical perspective of course content / total # of
- # of biblical perspective assessments / total # of assessments (including homework, in-class assignments, quizzes, and tests)
- What conclusions might your students reach?
- How reasonable is it for your students to ask,
“Do teachers really think this is important?”
- What would it take for you to increase the number of lessons, minutes, and assessments?
(1) Ask yourself, “How do I communicate something is important? What are 3 ways I can communicate that understanding and using a biblical perspective of course content is important?” Write your answers down on a piece of paper.
(2) Ask your students (as appropriate), “What are 3 things could I do to help you value biblical perspective?”
(3) Ask me, “How would you communicate that this is important?” Here are 6 options:
- Change the target: It’s applying a biblical
perspective to course content students have
mastered, not mastering course content. Demonstrate
this change by talking about it in class and by
posting a bulletin board.
- Increase the number of biblical perspective
lessons. And make these lessons your showcase
- Increase the number of instructional minutes.
Ask yourself, “How many instructional minutes do my
students need to master applying a biblical
perspective to course content they have learned?”
Use your answer.
- Increase the number of biblical perspective
assessments you give each year. For example, give a
minimum of 8 major unit assessments in which
students have to apply a biblical perspective to
course content. And make your biblical perspective
assessments your showcase assessments.
- Grade the biblical perspective assessments. As
teachers, we grade important things; we don’t grade
unimportant things. Which message do you want to
send about biblical perspective?
- Talk to students who do not perform well on the assessment. Talk to parents of students who do not perform well on the assessment
(1) Identify 1 action you will take. Identify 1 action from my list or 1 you’ve developed. Keep it simple. You can always identify another action when you are done. And make sure your action plan is SMART:
- If you answered 9 or 10, proceed with your
- If you answered 8 or less, what would it take for you to say 9 or 10? Find a way to move your commitment level to at least a 9. If you find this too hard to do, change your plan.
But, if your students see understanding and using a biblical perspective of course content as important, they are more likely to actually increase their understanding and use of a biblical perspective of course content.
Help your students. Today.
Now what? Answer 1 of the following 10 questions. Then use your answer. You might be tempted to answer more than 1 question. Don’t. Keep it simple and doable. Just answer 1 question—then use your 1 answer.
Here are the 10 questions:
- How can I help my students see the importance
of understanding and using a biblical perspective?
- How can I help my students understand that
there’s biblical perspective of course content?
- How can I help my students understand what
effective application of a biblical perspective
looks like on a classroom assessment?
- How can I help my students understand how I
teach from a biblical perspective?
- What vocabulary words do my students need to
- What engaging instructional strategies will
help my students?
- How can I give my students opportunities to
think through answers for themselves?
- How much time during class do my students need
- How can I design assessments so that my
students connect a biblical perspective with their
- How can I give my students more practice in using a biblical perspective?
*For a set of discussion questions you can use to further reflect on this blog entry, click here.
Don’t start by talking to a colleague. Don’t start by a reading book or attending a workshop. Don’t start by writing curriculum. These are solutions. Instead, begin by defining your students’ learning needs by looking at your students’ work and talking with them.
Remember, the goal is for your students to increase their understanding and use of a biblical perspective, not for you to be the master at teaching from a biblical perspective.
What’s an IDEAL way to help your students? IDEAL is a five-step process you can use to help your students understand and use a biblical perspective:
- Identify the problem and ask
God for help.
- Define your students’ learning
needs. Look at your students’ work. Talk with your
students or give them a survey. As necessary, talk
with parents and colleagues. Do this in order to
select one student learning need you will address.
- Explore ways to address the
student learning need you selected. Pick one and
make a plan to address it. Now get the training and
support you need.
- Act. Just do it! And be sure
to tell your students what you are doing and why.
- Look at the results. Discuss them with your students and colleagues.