Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

23 January 2020

Have you written your 2020 Classroom Covenant?




I know that most teachers have a set of class rules. IB schools have their Essential Agreement. Michael Linsin has his Classroom Management Plan which I have found works brilliantly.

W  Listen and follow directions.
W  Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
W  Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
W  Respect your classmates and your teacher.


Recently, I had the profound joy to learn from an outstanding school Principal from a Catholic Primary school in Brisbane. He was a wise and experienced professional who was clearly passionate about serving his students and his staff. He shared many of his ideas, but this one is something I would encourage you all to consider. Instead of just a set of class rules or guidelines, in his schools, each class at his school develops a Class Covenant, which is an agreement or a promise about how the class will behave. It is shared vision written collaboratively that guides a class in how they will live, learn and work together. The entire class works on this for the first 3 weeks of term. There is a special school assembly where every class presents and celebrates their agreed Covenant.



As Anglican schools, I think this is a wonderful way to bring our Christian identity to the very foundation of all we do. You could do a unit based on the Covenants in the Bible. Explore what a covenant is, why we have them, how they affect our lives and why they are relevant today.

Start by defining a "covenant". I used this definition from the dictionary on Kids.net.au

 an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises
 and requires certain behavior from them in return

If you are looking for ideas you might start with the Bible Project – What are Covenants?



There are plenty of ideas online about Classroom Covenants. This one is from a Catholic teacher,  Joe Paprocki, DMin, National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press,
 who says you can share his ideas.

CLASSROOM COVENANT
I have the right to be HAPPY and to be treated with KINDNESS in this classroom.
This means that no one will LAUGH at me, IGNORE me or HURT my feelings.
I have the right to be MYSELF in this classroom. This means that no one will treat me UNFAIRLY because I am FAT OR THIN, FAST OR SLOW, BOY OR GIRL.
I have the right to HEAR and be HEARD in this classroom. This means that no one will YELL, SCREAM, OR SHOUT. My opinion and needs will be considered in any plans we make.
I have a right in this classroom to learn about MYSELF. This means that I will be free to express my feelings and opinions without being interrupted or punished.
I have a right to be ME, to learn about ME, about OTHERS, and about GOD.
I look forward to RESPECTING your RIGHTS and MINE and RESPECTING the person’s desk I am sitting at and the classroom I am in. I will not destroy, write on, or misuse the things at their desk or in this classroom, because I do not want anyone to destroy the things that belong to me.

Have a search yourself for some inspiration. Try this article. 


Link this work to a lesson on rules in the Bible.

I think this connects so perfectly to "Being Together: Practising Peace" which is the Archbishop's Theme for 2020. It is all about how we work together and how we can foster peace in our classrooms and our schools. 

16 January 2020

Are you seeking compassionate communication in your classroom?

Practising Peacemaking

Hello everyone! I was thinking about great ways to ensure we are Practising Peacemaking in our classes and thought about looking at nonviolent communication. I am sure you already use nonviolent communication – but I know that I need to revisit these ideas – and the beginning of the school year is a great time to refresh ourselves. I love the idea of teaching the students to use nonviolent communication too! This could be a great unit and so timely when we consider the violence that we see daily in the media and the world around us.

Nonviolent Communication in Your Classroom.


Are you seeking compassionate communication in your classroom? 
Do you want your classroom to be a place of connection where students enjoy contributing to one another’s well-being
Do you seek a way of being honest without any criticism, insults or put-downs? 


Start with the Bible!


The Bible has wonderful wisdom when it comes to how we choose and use our words and Proverbs is a great place to start. Discuss these Proverbs with your students as a way to introduce the concept of Nonviolent Communication.

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 18:4 “A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Perhaps you might ask your students to turn these Bible verses in to posters and decorate your classroom, the corridors and play spaces?

For older students - maybe have a lesson on Proverbs to help them understand the concept of wisdom. This overview from The Bible Project is brilliant!



How are we at Being Together?


As a part of our Anglican Church theme for 2020, Being Together: Practising Peace, we are inviting schools to explore Nonviolent Communication. A good place to start might be the website of Marshall B Rosenberg Ph.D

In schools, we may see relationships of “power over” rather than “power with” which diminishes our relationships with staff and students and affects the well-being of those in our school communities.  Violent communication may the default of some school teachers or leaders. This is such a shame as it takes away trust and hinders positive relationships. I am sure we can all think of that leader or colleague who focussed on judgement, criticism, labelling, blaming, shaming, pigeon holing or avoiding responsibility. That is what violent communication looks like and if you have experienced it – it can have such a destructive effect.

Nonviolent communication is about speaking truth in love and fostering harmony rather than conflict


Here is a great story you can use to help you and your students explore violent and nonviolent communication and the power of peace. Watch "Abigail Makes Peace" and discuss this with your students.

Think about the choices made by Abigail, her husband and David.




Think about what might be written in the New Testament too.

"Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

That ‘love’ that Paul refers to is ‘agape love’ or the sacrificial kind of love that works for the benefit of the loved one. The truth we speak about is designed to build people up and be beneficial to those who hear the words. Paul went on to write, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29



For more ideas, I suggest you have a glance at a fabulous website – Mindful Educators Community  and read their article on Inspiring Learning Through Nonviolent Communication by Oren Sofer (August 21, 2019) It gives us so much to think about. Consider these quotes from Oren Sofer.

“Violence isn’t just physical violence, like we would think of. So one definition from thinker, philosopher and social theorist, Johan Galtung, is that violence is any avoidable impairment of human needs.”

Using this definition, poverty or a lack of drinking water could be considered as forms of violence.

“Another definition could be any way of relating or acting that compels people to act by force rather than by choice. And when we think about that in terms of schools, how much are we using violence or the threat of punishment as a way of relating to children? And fundamentally, how much are we supporting children in developing an appreciation for and a capacity to learn, and how much are we training them to obey and to behave?”

As educators, we need to be very clear about our messages and what is influencing our choices so that we can ensure we achieve nonviolent communication.

“So nonviolent communication is a way of training attention in terms of the relationship, to identify specific things that make it more likely for us to meet our needs together.”

“Every time we use our power with a child, to get them to do what we want, implicitly the lesson that we teach them is those who are bigger and stronger win. That’s what we’re reinforcing.” Oren Sofer.



Mindfulness


Oren Sofer suggests that mindfulness is the key helps us to be aware of our own needs and feelings and this enables us to handle situations with students in a way that is transparent, collaborative and respectful.

Maybe you might like to introduce some more mindfulness in to your lessons so that you can also aim for nonviolent communication?

If you want to explore more ideas behind nonviolent communication, have a look at The Centre for Nonviolent Communication

According to the CNVC – Nonviolent Communication is “based on the principles of nonviolence - the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviours taught and supported by the prevailing culture.

NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that all actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs. People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, Increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.”


As we embark on a journey of Practising Peacemaking, may you take time to think about your communication with students and colleagues and perhaps reflect on how we can all embrace nonviolent communication and pass on this powerful gift to the children in our care.



If you are not sure where to start – you can always delve in to Proverbs one more time!

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18

May we use our words as instruments of peace in our schools.







13 January 2020

Are You Shining With Peace? Practising Peacemaking!



Welcome to 2020 and a year of Practising Peacemaking. The Archbishop's Theme of "Being Together: Practising Peacemaking" is a wonderful time to explore the concept of peace with our students.

I have the most adorable book for you to use in your class - "When I'm Shining with Peace" written by Wendy Mason, Lisa Marvelis and illustrated by Kayleen West. This book is a delightful treasure. You really need the whole set in your classroom and your library!!

While the book might be a sweet picture book, the message is powerful and will engage readers of all ages – including people as old as me! Enjoy reading this with your students.

"If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children."
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 -1948)



Teaching Ideas

ü  You could begin a lesson with your students by teaching them the Bible verse, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7  Discuss the meaning of the verse.


 ü  Shining Stars – “When we put our trust is in the Holy Spirit to help us, our light is switched on and the fruit of the Spirit can shine through.” Create stars for each student to wear as a badge. The star is a companion, a problem solver and a helper! Look closely at the pictures on each page. The Holy Spirit is represented by the star which is guiding and helping Stellar Bear. What do you think the Star is saying to Stellar Bear?


ü  Read aloud with each student having their own line to say and develop this as an Assembly item. Explore some Choral Reading activities or Readers’ Theatre activities.


ü  Adventures in Art! Work with your Art teacher to create your own illustrations to go with the book. Students are sure to engage with Stellar Bear and wish to draw him.


ü  Sing This Little Light of Mine and discuss the idea that we all have a “Peace Light” which we can turn on. Discuss what we look like when our “Peace Light” is turned on. There are many versions of this song for you to consider. Or you could think about listening to Peace Like a River. Why not think about a version with actions?


ü  Practise silence and stillness to ensure we can have peace. Christian mindfulness might help. Try breathing exercises.


ü  Drama Games. When the music is playing – be jiggly and wiggly. When the music stops be calm and steady.


ü  Praying in Colour. Look at the picture in the book of Stellar Bear drawing. He is calm and at peace and his work is excellent. Ask all the students to do a similar drawing. Have some lovely flowers ready for each group to use as they draw.


ü  Peace Walk. Take a quiet walk around the school yard and encourage students to look closely and remember things they have seen. When you get back to the class ask the students to write a list or draw some of the things they saw.


ü  Conflict Resolution. Discuss – what does it mean to want your own way when you are playing at school? How can we solve these problems peacefully?


ü  No Whining Zone. Think about developing a No Wanting and No Whining Zone. Why would we do that? How might that help our class?


ü  Making good choices activity. Stop. Listen. Think. Make sure you are wearing your Peace Shining Star when you want to make good choices – so that you can let your light shine. Role play some scenarios that require some positive and kind choices that will reflect Peace.


ü  Your Best Self. How can you be the best version of you? Aim each day to be your best self – with God’s help. We can choose to act peacefully. Set goals and reflect each day on how you are going.


ü  Circle Time. What does it mean to be content? Make a list of things you can do to help you feel content. Go around the circle and share your ideas on peace.


ü  Write a Peace Prayer! Be thankful and seek the peace that God offers us.

Have a look at the Peace Education Network for more great ideas.


Look at the website and you will find lots of fabulous information. 
"We want all young people to know and experience positive alternatives to violence, force and war."
"Most disputes between people are solved without violence – but not all. If we are to move away from violence as a way of solving disputes at home and abroad we must work together to help young people learn how deal with conflict creatively and nonviolently.
To prevent continued cycles of violence, education must promote peace, tolerance and understanding to help create a better society for all."



27 October 2019

What are you thinking about?

Teaching religious education is about encouraging your students to think. A wise friend of mine says it is about opening the window and seeing what the breeze blows in.
Using videos can be a wonderful and powerful way to start a conversation.
Here are some 'oldies but goldies' - great videos to open a conversation about concepts such as kindness, compassion, help, love, support, attitude  and purpose. 

Simply share these stories - 2 are true stories - and see where the conversation leads!

Because kindness keeps the world afloat.


TWC NEWS- Austin - Apollos Hester


Derek Redmond


24 October 2019

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

I know that many teachers are already planning their Christmas lessons, so I have a few very interesting videos for you.

I wonder what you will think of  The Adventures of Mary & Joseph from the Bible Reading Fellowship? While these videos are not new, perhaps they will spark lots of discussion with your  students. 

Enjoy the story! There are 9 videos - I have just uploaded the first few so you get the idea.
Episode One

Episode Two


Episode Three

Episode Four



4 September 2019

Climate Change and More

If you haven't watched 2040 yet - then at least watch this preview!
It is an amazing film. 
So why not talk Climate Change in your Religious Education classes! What does the Bible say about looking after the Earth?
Here is a TED Ed talk - and it comes with lesson ideas too! Beware - you will be exploring Evolution!! 
Now today - you get even more exciting stuff! A fabulous resource is Cool Australia. Click on this website for excellent lessons and resources.
How do we explore all environmental issues with an ethical gaze? Do Christians have a different view of the importance of caring for the environment than other people? You could develop some great debates and inquiries around this topic while teaching your students to argue and debate with respect and dignity.
If you want to open up your discussions a little more, have a look at ARRCC - Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. 



25 August 2019

What do you think you were put on Earth to do?


Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash
This question comes straight from one of my favourite websites, Barnabas in Schools. Have a look at their wonderful lesson. I have used their lesson ideas here and then added some ideas and resources. 

Imagine using Circle Time and starting with this question - 
What do you think you were put on Earth for? 
Allow students time to think and then do a Think Pair Share activity. In some classes, Triads work – one student talks, one student repeats what was said in their own words and one student interprets, reflects and reports back to the group.

Ask students to then consider their own gifts, skills or talents and ask them to be a little more specific about the reason they are on the earth.

Introduce the story of Antoni Gaudi. If you are working at an IB school – you might like to plan this with a transdisciplinary focus and work with the Art teacher, the Design and Technology teacher and the History teacher!
Photo by Greg Nunes on Unsplash
Note for your students that Gaudi’s teachers did not know what to do with him – he was bright but so shy. He missed a lot of school due to illness. He loved nature and was fascinated by design.
Photo by Zidonito McBrain on Unsplash
By the time he was at university, Gaudi confused people with his questions.
              Why do some buildings look better covered in ivy?
 If you are going to have a door handle, 
why not make a door handle that feels good to hold?
Gaudi was a devout Christian and he also asked the question, “What was I put on Earth to do?”
Well – as you know – the rest is history – literally. Gaudi designed the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Maybe introduce the Parable of the Talents and see how the students interpret this story in light of our purpose on Earth? Max7 is definitely worth looking at if you haven't been on that website recently. 


Have a look around Bible Theatre also. 

So how can you help your students discover their purpose in life?
This video from the Greater Good Science Centre might help you in planning your classes.




Just as another idea – you could choose the story of Gaudi to introduce a unit on 
Sacred Spaces – Churches and Cathedrals
What makes a space Sacred? 
Where do you find Sacred Spaces? 
Do we need Sacred Spaces?


Also - the pictures I use usually come from one of my all time favourite places called Unsplash. You can use the most fabulous images from this website. Have an explore if you haven't already discovered this great resource for all teachers.