Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ministry Through the Workshop Lens 1: Objective

The area of K-12 teaching that most deeply sparked my passions was reading and writing workshop teaching. Even though I no longer teach middle school language arts, the concept of workshop teaching permeates who I am as a teacher in different contexts, including who I am and what I value as a Director of Religious Education and as a Youth Minister. I am starting a new series on my blog to incorporate elements of workshop teaching that have shaped me as I transfer the concepts into this new context. In the series I will share the background of the element and how it looks in the reading and/or writing workshop context and then explain how it looks in the ministry context.

This first post in the series will focus on objectives/learning goals, what we hope the impact will be on those engaging in the educational experience. Teaching through the workshop lens means focusing on living what I am teaching in my real life and then considering implications of how to support others with the same. It means keeping the big picture of what I am trying to accomplish in mind (long term/over-arching), while also thinking about natural steps to get there (unit and lesson level).

With reading and writers workshop the over-arching purpose is to nurture readers and writers. It is not about having them do well on a test as the ultimate, but rather about being life-long readers and writers. It is about being competent and fulfilled readers and writers with intrinsic motivation. At the lesson level, objectives start with readers and writers, such as readers ask questions to better understand characters and their motivations or writers have a way to collect inspirations for potential writing projects. The objectives then guide instruction - minilessons introducing the concept and the teacher modeling what that looks like, time for students to practice the concept with support, and time to share about the experience during practice. The objectives guide the process of developing instruction (something I will explore further in a future post).

Through the ministry lens, the big picture that I keep in mind is related to helping form relationships with God that will last throughout different phases of life. It is about considering what a Christ-centered life looks like and then considering how to nurture that in others. It is about reflecting on what leads toward an authentic relationship. It is about seeing the beauty in the Catholic faith and choosing to live a sacramental life. Through the reading and writing lens, we reflect on real reading and writing vs. school reading and writing and seek to align to what will engage and sustain readers and writers over time, instead of just accomplishing an academic based task. In ministry then, it is about considering how to have sessions reflect the processes and tools of those who authentically love and prioritize God in their lives.

The unit and lesson level objectives then, rather than being readers... or writers... statements can be disciples... I still have not read the book Forming Intentional Disciples, but the title makes me think it would align well with what I am getting at here. We think about what it means to be a disciple, and then we reflect on how to share that with youth with scaffolding of how to get there. This will be the first ministry year where I actually frame objectives in this way, as it has been a gradual shift towards realizing how I would transfer my workshop philosophy into the ministry context, and this was not yet one of the areas that I had implemented.  Some example objectives I have in mind are: Disciples consider implications for their own lives while examining the lives of Saints. Disciples intentionally make time for God in their schedules. Disciples seek to conform their lives to God's teachings.

As a teacher educator, when I guide teaching candidates through the process of lesson design, it is apparent that having strong initial planning is vital. The first area of focus then is to help candidates to understand what it means to have a clear sense of purpose and then be able to align different elements to that purpose. In ministry, we also have to make sure that we start with a clear purpose and then develop how to accomplish that with objectives as a guide.  The objectives intentionally start with language that honors the identity of our students/youth as readers, writers, or disciples. We try to help them to see themselves in what we are teaching so that they may have a desire to incorporate what we teach in their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.