Call to Present

Welcome potential presenters!

Introduction

Schools today exist in an era of heightened accountability for educational outcomes, measured predominantly via standardized testing. Because of their faith foundation, Christian schools count academic achievement as a paramount aim, but not an exclusive one. In such an era, and particularly for Christian schools, “flourishing” offers a more expansive view of the purposes and processes of education.

Throughout scripture, the concept of flourishing is used to describe a state of being – one that always results from God’s work with and upon communities of faith. The psalmist invokes the blessing in the Old Testament, “May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children: (Psalm 115:14). This blessing echoes in the words of Jesus when He told disciples, “I have come that they may have life, and hive it to the full (John 10:10b). Inherent in these scriptures is a picture of how through Christ, communities of faith can flourish – to the benefit of both adults and children alike.

The Association of Christian Schools International. (2019). Flourishing Schools Research (p. 5). Colorado Springs, CO: Swaner, L., Marshall, C., & Tesar, S.

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Flourishing School Culture Model

Breakout Session Proposals

ACSI will give priority to proposals in 3–session, continuous learning tracks that will engage attendees in deeper learning or active learning and align with the domains of a flourishing school. Additionally, it is desired that proposals allow for attendees to complete the track with clear direction for implementation and application. This could mean the development of a template, action plan, or product/project by the end of the track.

Please refer to the Flourishing Schools Research, if needed.

Domains for Breakout Sessions

Purpose

A commitment on the part of all school constituencies to the central purposes of Christian education—such as holistic teaching, integrated worldview, spiritual formation, discipleship, and family-school partnership—are strongly predictive of flourishing outcomes.

Sessions that fit the PURPOSE domain must answer one or more of the following questions:

Responsibility – How can leaders, teachers and support staff feel a sense of shared ownership for the school’s mission, success, and improvement?

Holistic Teaching
– How does teaching involve helping students develop holistically?

Integrated Worldview
– How is a biblical worldview integrated into all areas of learning?

God’s Story
– How can students see themselves in the context of God’s larger story as contributing to His purposes within the world and humanity?

Questioning
– How can schools provide a safe environment for students to question the cultural happenings around them and grapple with their doubts?

Partnership
– How can schools foster closer partnerships with parents and families on behalf of students?

Spiritual Formation
– How can a school become intentional about spiritual formation and measure its outcomes in this area?

Relationships

Trust-filled, supportive, and authentic relationships between all school constituencies, as well as with the surrounding community, are key to flourishing outcomes (e.g., between leaders and teachers, leaders and the board, parents and teachers, teachers and students, students and peers, school leadership and the community, and the school itself with the community).

Sessions that fit the RELATIONSHIPS domain must answer one or more of the following questions:

Supportive Leadership – How can school leaders empower teachers and strengthen effectiveness through trusted relationships?

Leadership Interdependence – How can schools leverage diverse backgrounds and strengths causing a healthy interdependence within the leadership constructs of the organization?

Parent Relationships – How can teachers foster healthy communication systems and facilitate positive relationships with parents?

Community Engagement – How can the school engage with the surrounding community and tap into community resources, including networking and resource sharing?

Mentoring Students – How can staff better understand the unique talents of each child and engage them in meaningful relationships that lead to openness and conversation?

Culture – How does the school/classroom foster responsiveness to the brokenness of the world, and foster inclusion and diversity within the context of the school community?

Christlike Teachers –How can teachers grow in their walk with the Lord and ultimately in their desire to become Christlike in their interaction with students, and how can that be nurtured in the school setting?

Prosocial Orientation – How do schools/classrooms create and maintain a healthy social environment for students, where peer to peer love and care are demonstrated?

Caring Environment – How do schools/classrooms ensure a loving, bully-free environment where genuine care and concern for students are evidenced?

Learning Orientation

A school culture in which educators are committed to ongoing learning and improvement is predictive of flourishing not only for the school and educators, but also for students. For teachers, this includes best practices in feedback and collaboration, high-quality professional development, and individualized instruction. For school leaders, this entails using systems thinking to develop a culture of improvement, which is both focused on student outcomes and is data-driven.

Sessions that fit the LEARNING ORIENTATION domain must answer one or more of the following questions:

Feedback – How can leaders and teachers best engage in the practice of feedback to elicit real-time classroom adjustments?

Collaboration – How can leaders and teachers facilitate meaningful vertical and horizontal collaboration to inform practices?

Systems Thinking – How can leaders and teachers ensure a team spirit that provides big picture mapping and planning with each teacher embracing their part in a larger narrative?

Data-Driven Improvement – How can leaders and teachers best use data to gauge school results and effectiveness, determine goal attainment and address problems?

Professional Development – How can school leaders begin to engage faculty in on-site, role or subject-specific professional development that results in a culture of growth for teachers?

Outcomes Focus – How do leaders and teachers focus on measuring outcomes as a means of managing processes or change initiatives?

Culture of Improvement – How do leaders and teachers develop an actively thriving culture of continuous improvement in all areas of flourishing?

Individualized Instruction – How do leaders and teachers help students to discover their unique gifts or learning styles and validate those within the school system and classroom?

Expertise & Resources

Flourishing is connected to excellence in educational and school management practices. Educationally, this includes hiring qualified staff, providing effective and orderly classroom environments where students are deeply engaged in learning, and responding effectively to special needs. Sufficient school resources—as well as board-level strengths in resource planning—are predictive of school flourishing, as are (conversely) resource constraints that hinder schools from engaging in improvement processes.

Sessions that fit the EXPERTISE & RESOURCES domain must answer one or more of the following questions:

Best Practices – How do schools ensure that best practices in pedagogy are prioritized and adequate resources are provided to facilitate these practices?

Engaged Learning – How do teachers facilitate a classroom environment that enables students to nurture critical thinking, evaluate information, and engage in problem-solving?

Responsiveness to Special Needs – How do schools work together to serve students with special needs, aided by processes for identifying and responding to those needs?

Qualified Staff – How do schools ensure that teachers are adequately certified or licensed and have the appropriate accountability and experiences needed to maintain a high level of teaching and learning?

Resources – How do schools ensure that materials and resources necessary for effectiveness are available to teachers and students, including technology, playground equipment, safety updates, etc., providing an overall sense of community trust and confidence in the school’s programming?

Resource Planning
– How do schools effectively develop a strategic financial plan, master facilities plan, reserve fund and
other key financial planning systems that ensure sustainability?

Well-Being

For both leaders and teachers at Christian schools, stress is a key factor that impacts flourishing; likewise, healthy living and developing resilience is predictive of student flourishing. This domain and related constructs demonstrate that the well-being of educators and students is not a secondary concern—but rather is predictively linked—to flourishing outcomes.

Sessions that fit the WELL-BEING domain must answer one or more of the following questions:

Stress – How do leaders reduce stress by providing a culture of healthy living for all staff, including themselves, and an environment where teachers have adequate time to prepare for instruction? How does the classroom teacher best address the stressors he/she faces on a daily basis in the classroom?

Healthy Living
– How do schools adequately integrate healthy, balanced living (exercise, diet, and habits) into the daily schedule and curricula for students?

Resilience
– How do schools develop systems and supports that enable students to handle stress effectively and to respond well to/bounce back from difficult situations?