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.

16 December 2016

Inspiring Questions RE PD Workshop 2017

Dialogue Australasia Network (DAN) is running a series of workshops around Australia with Jeremy Hall and Mark Case. See all the details on their website.

The focus will be on teaching philosophy and religion. 
Topics will include:
  • What is a good life?
  • Are science and religion compatible?
  • Why is there suffering in the world?
  • Can I prove the existence of God?
  • Teaching critical and creative thinking.

1 December 2016

Prayer Spaces in Schools Australian Tour 2017

If you haven't heard of Prayer Spaces in Schools, now is the time to find out! One great place to start is the Prayer Spaces in School website or you could check out the video in the bottom of this post. The most important thing to know is that Phil Togwell from Prayer Spaces in Schools (UK) is coming to Australia next year...and he may be visiting a city near you to run a workshop. Find out more about the tour here.

Brisbane - Wed 9th August - St John's Anglican College

Canberra - Mon 14th August - Radford College

Sydney - Tuesday 15th August - Venue TBC

Adelaide - 
Thursday 17th August - St Peter's College

Melbourne - Friday 18th August - Caulfield Grammar School

(Cost $80 - includes morning tea and lunch)


If you want to find out how amazing Prayer Spaces are and learn how you might use them in your school come and join in. The tour is being organised by the Anglican Schools Commission in Southern Queensland but all are welcome.

21 November 2016

Cults in Australia

This Sunday Night report might be a useful introduction for Senior Students into a unit on cults. There are some confronting elements in it so teachers should use their discretion.

14 November 2016

Spirited Arts Competition

The Spirited Arts Competition is a Religious Education event held every year in the UK. Each year there is a theme and schools are encouraged to incorporate the event into their RE lessons. Entries are received from other countries including Australia. Have a look at the 2016-2017 theme. Previous years winners can be seen online.

7 November 2016

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle have a list of all the teaching and learning strategies used over the year in their syllabus. A copy can be found here. There are some really great ideas. and there must be more than a hundred listed. Here is just a tiny sample:

  • Formulate a series of questions you would want to ask characters from Bible stories.
  • Older children write a pamphlet explaining to younger children how to look up Scripture references.
  • Working with finger puppets, present a Bible story.
  • Write a letter to someone of another faith explaining why the Bible is the special book of the Christian family.
  • Interview a character who was present at one of the events of Jesus life about their memories of the event.
  • In groups, pupils make a radio or TV broadcast or newspaper article reporting on an event in the Gospels.

31 October 2016

A site for RE professionals

The website of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education in the UK has plenty of resources that might interest Australian teachers. It is a subscription site but there are free resources as well.

Amongst the free resources there are a number of pages along the lines of Ten Ideas...For example Ten Ideas for Better Visual Learning. I love this sort of thing becuase there is always at least one idea of value.

26 October 2016

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz Part 2

As a follow up to "A Very Angry Christmas Quiz" checkout this video "Retooning the Nativity" which highlights the differences between the traditional popular nativity scene and what we find in scripture. I always make sure I say to children that it doesn't matter if there were three wise men or more. It doesn't matter that we flesh out the story a bit in our imagination. The important thing is to go to the heart of  what it is about: Emmanuel - God with us.

24 October 2016

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz

It is that time of year when I begin to post Christmas resources. This is one of my favourites.

This quiz has circulated around the internet for a long time. I have used it with a variety of age groups. I have often found that students get a bit angry and incredulous when the answers are revealed. They find it outrageous that the 'facts' they know about the Christmas story don't really appear in the Bible but are the result of tradition. In fact while many of the things we have added in tradition may be reasonable assumptions this quiz is a good reminder to us all at Christmas to go back to the source of the nativity stories. Children can find this quiz confronting and I have even had students say to me: Do you even read the Bible?!?!

This is a great opportunity to get students interested in reading the nativity narratives and looking at the closely. Have fun and be prepared for the wrath of your students.

The Questions

1. How many wise men were there?
a. 3
b. 4
c. The Bible does not say.

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
a. Yes
b. No
c. The Bible does not say.

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
a. Donkey
b. Small horse
c. Llama
d. The Bible does not say
4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
a. An Angel told Mary to use the name.
b. An Angel told Joseph to use the name.
c. All of the above.
d. None of the above.

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
a. Stable
b. Cave
c. Inn
d. The Bible does not say.

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
a. Cattle
b. Sheep
c. Doves
d. All of the above
e. The Bible does not say.

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
a. The shepherds
b. King Herod's astrologers
c. The Bible does not say.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
a. Brighter
b. Equivalent
c. A faint glow over the horizon.
d. The Bible does not say.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?
a. Within minutes.
b. That night
c. The Bible does not say.

The Answers

1. How many wise men were there?
c. The Bible does not say.

Although tradition suggests there were three wisemen, as in the carol "We Three Kings of Orient Are," the Bible actually does not give the number of Magi. Go to Biblical account of the Magi in Matthew).

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
c. The Bible does not say.

Matthew writes that the magi found the Child with Mary, but makes no mention of Joseph. Matthew 2:9-11. Of course, as a good parent, we would probably expect Joseph to have been there.'

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although it would be a long walk for a pregnant woman from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the Bible does not mention what animal, if any, Mary rode. Luke 2:4-6

4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
c. All of the above.

In Luke, the Angel Gabriel tells Mary to use the name "Jesus." Luke 1:30-31 . In Matthew, an angel tells Joseph to use the name. Matthew 1:20-21

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although Luke tells us that the baby was placed in a manger, there is no mention of where the manger was located. Luke 2:6-8

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
e. The Bible does not say.

Despite the line in Away in a Manger that "the cattle were lowing, the poor baby wakes," there is no mention of which animals were present at the Nativity. Luke 2:6-8

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
c. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
d. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?

c. The Bible does not say.

Although every Sunday school Christmas pageant has Mary deliver a baby moments after Mary and Joseph are turned away from the inn, the Bible does not specify a time period. Check Luke's account.

19 October 2016

For a better world

Following up on the video from earlier in the week these beautiful videos featuring the Pope might be very helpful in exploring with students the concept of the Kingdom of God, how Christian's imagine it and what we might do to participate in what Jesus has called us to do.

Here is one on Respect for Women

17 October 2016

Goals for a better world

You may be aware that the Millennium Development Goals have been replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals. While these goals may be superficially secular they do reflect the kind of world Christians should seek to build in being citizens in the Kingdom of God. They also connect with the Five Marks of Mission that Anglicans use to think about mission.

The 2030schools.com website has lots of useful resources for exploring these goals with students and there is also a connected website called "The World's Largest Lesson". There are lesson plans, posters and all kinds of good stuff on each and every goal.

12 October 2016

Aurasma in Education

How are you using digital technology in RE classroom? A big shout out to Lana who told me about how she is using the Aurasma app in her classroom.

Aurasma is an augmented reality app. It works in a similar way to Pokemon Go except you create the content that appears though the phone or ipad. Lana is getting her students to create the content. A lot of fun and engaged learning could happen with this app. Here is a great prezi about Aurasma.

One way this kind of technology could be used is to bring classical paintings of Bible stories to life but your imagination is the only limit here (and access to technology).

Have a look at the videos below to get some ideas.


10 October 2016

What is the Bible?

A great little video with lots of background information about the Bible (read in a lovely accent).

And while we are in this territory here is another useful video about how the Bible came to be.

And one more....but this one is the story of the Bible in three minutes. As a matter of interest go to YouTube and type in  Bible in three minutes. A useful array of videos.

5 October 2016

Australian Religious Short Film Prize

The winner of the Religious Short Film Prize was announced earlier in the year. 

"[The Reverend] Dr David Millikan, commented, “The film is a story about a chance encounter between a young Jewish woman and a Palestinian child in time of war. It takes place in a dilapidated Christian church. With such elements and many issues of belief, ancient hatreds and violence are at play. The film made its way with restraint and insight.”"

It might be useful as an introduction to any unit exploring the politics of religion in the middle east.

3 October 2016

RE Handbook Online

The Religious Education CPD Handbook has lots of useful information for religious educators.

Sections include:

  •  A short history of religious education
  • Religious traditions and beliefs
  • The religious education curriculum
  • Approaches to teaching, learning and assessment in religious education.
This list doesn't however do justice to the volume of information and ideas available on this site.
The section on approaches is particularly interesting and may provide some new ideas for engaging students.

28 September 2016

26 September 2016

Learning Links

This Learning Links Series of books written by Maurice Ryan and Jan Grajczonek come recommended by a number of religious educators in my network. In particular they had used the ones focusing on sacraments. If you are teaching in a non Catholic context some adjustment might be needed.

You may find this insightful conference piece by Maurice Ryan on the Future of Religious Education interesting.

And here is a video on Baptism produced by Busted Halo.


22 September 2016

Getting real with RE

Realia is a term  for real things, concrete objects, that are used in the classroom. Boxes with themed items have been used in language learning classes to help students understand different cultural artefacts. This idea can easily be applied to learning about world religions.

A Realia Box may provide students with an opportunity to see and touch artefacts from a particular religion in order to gain a concrete understanding of each item. This can aid learning and bring authenticity to the classroom.

Begin collecting items that can be stored in the classroom to use whenever needed. It is possible that parents within the school may be able to donate to the realia box. Some items may be bought from specific religious suppliers but may require an explanation for why you might be buying that item and how it will be used.

It is important that all the items are treated with respect. It may be the case that you only allow students of the religious group being explored to open or wear particular items. There may even be an opportunity for students from a particular religion to present and talk about the items in their box if they are knowledgeable about them.

There are website that sell the artefacts in packs such as articlesoffaith.co.uk

More information on using artefacts in Religious Education can be found at the following:

15 September 2016

Position Vacant - Disciple

ReJesus is a great site for all kinds of resources relating to Jesus. One of the sections I like is the Job Vacancy for a Disciple. All the elements relating to employment are laid out with links to Bible passages.

Some reverse engineering could be done on this job vacancy to create a unit of work or project focused on Jesus, his disciples and the things he said about following him.

A Gospel could be broken up and explored by the class for information about what the disciples did and what Jesus told them to do. From this a job vacancy advertisement could be written by the students using the structure and elements of job ads found online.

25 August 2016

Ayiti: The Cost of Life

This online interactive game: Ayiti: The Cost of Life could be useful in helping students understand some of the pressures of living in a developing nation.

"The Guinard family faces some difficult challenges resulting from poverty, severe weather, and even potential violence. But if they're careful and lucky, they may have a chance at a better life."
"You have four years to help the Guinard family as they confront the "cost of life." Good luck!"

Shout out to Tim B who shared this at the last Service PD Day.

15 August 2016

Religion in Australia

If you have wandered around a capital city in Australia in the last year or so you might have seen one of the posters above. These were created by artist Peter Drew in order to remind Australians that we have always been a multicultural nation and that people from all over the world have contributed to making this country what it is today. 

In the religious education classroom I think it is of great value to not only explore the beliefs of the people of many religions but to look at the ways they have lived and contributed to the society they are in. When I was in the classroom this usually meant a unit on religion in Australia that would explore the demographics of different religious groups but also how they have made and continue to make a unique contribution.

Peter Drew's work might be a useful entry point for exploring this. He has a number of videos on his website peterdrewarts.com and he also has a TedTalk called: How to cure racism with art.

4 August 2016

Contemplative Prayer Resources

In Southern Queensland 'Inner Life' is one of the Strands of our Religious Education Syllabus. It is there to encourage teachers to draw on the Christian traditions of contemplation and meditation. The hope is students might experience these practices and connect not only with their own inner self but with God as well.

Rev Bosco Peter's from New Zealand has a site dedicated to Liturgy. This week he posted about Christian Contemplative Practice. His article draws together a range of posts and resources in this area from his own and other websites. Check it out.

28 July 2016

No such thing as "no religion"

You may be aware that the Australian Census is almost upon us (August 9). You may not be aware that there has been a campaign run this year by Atheist and Rationalist groups to encourage Australians to think seriously about what it means to indicate you are an adherent of particular religion. Specifically they are encouraging those who might tick the box of a Christian denomination to tick 'no religion' unless you can affirm all elements of the Nicene Creed. They even outline why going to church doesn't make you a Christian. This campaign coincides with the 'no religion' box being taken to the top of the list on the census form.

This is a great opportunity to explore with students what it actually means to be a Christian or belong to a religious group. There are plenty of resources to draw on. It may be valuable to start by exploring what students think it might mean to belong to or identify with a particular religion. One question that could be explored is: Can you be a Christian and not go to church? or conversely: Can you go to church and not be a Christian?

Smart's Dimensions of Religion could be a useful framework for exploring a range of elements that adherents might subscribe to or participate in.

The website of the 'No Religion' campaign would also be a good resource to explore. Students could uncover how the campaigners define religious adherence and evaluate it in light of what has already been discussed. There are a number of editorials and news articles that have been written about this and would be useful fodder for debate. A few are listed here:

The last article by Michael Jensen is particularly useful in that it poses the idea that all people are 'religious'.

The ABS also has an interesting article from 2013 called 'Losing My Religion' which explores the growth of ticking the 'no religion' box across Australian census history.

The Centre for Public Christianity has a number of articles on changes in religious affiliation in Australia and the census that would be worth exploring.

One of the questions that should also be explored with students is: What do religious groups and particularly Christian groups contribute to Australian society? What is the evidence?

22 July 2016

What is Anglican worship like?

It is interesting to explore with students the many commonalities and differences that exist in Anglican worship across the world. As a resource I thought I might put up some YouTube clips of worship from Anglican Churches from across the Communion. Many of these clips  may be atypical of Anglicanism but would still be found in Dioceses everywhere, some more frequently than others. Enjoy!

I thought I would start with the most formal style of worship a Solemn High Mass at St Matthias' Anglican Church.

At the other end of the spectrum is a praise and worship service from the Anglican Cathedral in Sabah.

It is interesting to see how some African worship combines more formal elements of Anglican worship with the energy of their own culture which incorporates dance.

Finally I couldn't help posting the following video which demonstrates how some churches seek to engage young people with the Eucharist. I wonder what you think about this approach? Has it gone too far or is it okay to do things like this?

I wonder what your students would make of all these different types of worship? What unity might they find between them? What would they find appealing themselves? What are their expectations of worship?

14 July 2016

Where do you stand?

What do students know about the topic or area of knowledge you are about to explore? This is an important question at the beginning of an unit. One way of exploring this is to do Nilson's “Common Sense Inventory” where students have to decide if statements related to the course content are true or false. It can begin with a paired or small group discussion giving students time to discuss and decide before you reveal the answer. Alternatively students could decide for themselves and move to one or other side of the classroom designated as true or false.

A similar exercise focusing not on facts but on personal opinion or belief could also be used.

Students are asked to stand in the middle of classroom. One side of the class is designated as strongly agree, one side is strongly disagree. These words may be written on either side of the white board in order to remind students. Various values related statements are read aloud and students must move to one side of the class or the other depending on where they stand in relation to the issue.

While students may be given the choice to stand in the middle often this an easy way out of standing somewhere definite. Encourage students to move by getting everyone back into the centre before reading the next statement.

After a statement is read out students may be given the opportunity to say why they agree or disagree with a particular statement. In this phase of the lesson you might discourage students from debating the topic so that a range of views can be heard. Guidance might need to be given in regards to the grounding of statements for example instead of saying: Euthanasia is wrong because.... they should be encouraged to say: I believe euthanasia is wrong because... 

5 July 2016

Multiple Intelligences and the Bible

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are a useful tool for engaging students in the many different ways they learn and experience the world. When used creatively they can also open up experiences that transform the learner. Below are some basic ideas for using Multiple Intelligences when engaging with Biblical narratives. With all of these activities appropriate passages of scripture need to be chosen.

Music Rhythmic (Music Smart)
After reading a chosen passage of scripture invite students to listen to some brief excerpts of different types of music. Try to find music with different moods. Ask students to choose which piece of music they think goes best with the reading. The passage can then be read with that piece of music playing quietly underneath.

Naturalistic (Nature Smart)
The sounds, textures and smells of a Bible story may help many students to engage with it in a memorable way. Nature sound tracks can be used for some passages that take place at the beach or in the desert. The smells and textures of the story can be brought into the classroom such as the smell of cooking fish or the touch of sand. Jesus often told stories using real objects that can be put in students hands to see, touch and smell. Ideally some stories might be told outside looking at the things Jesus spoke about.

Bodily Kinaesthetic (Movement Smart)
Building and making can be an important tool for unlocking kinaesthetic children’s learning. Lego or other building and play materials might be used to help recreate a story that students have just heard told. Photos of the construction at different points of the story could be taken, so students can create a sequential picture book.

Intrapersonal  (Self Smart)
Many Biblical narratives can be rewritten in a way that invites students to go on a journey of the imagination. This can begin by asking them to imagine that they are in the story watching what is going on. Encourage them to picture everything in the story including the sights, sounds and smells. Ask them to imagine how they feel or what they think when different events occur. 

Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart)
There are many excellent Bible’s on CD or MP3 available these days. The best include high quality sound effects and musical scores in the background. Using one of these can provide an alternate way for students to hear the story being explored. 

30 June 2016

Using your brain is fun!

 The Philosophy Man

Religious Education is fun too!

I imagine that for many students this statement and the one in the title are not true. Their experience of school and the classroom, what they may equate with learning and therefore using their brain has not been fun. I also suspect that for many students religious education, in particular, has not been fun. 

But what is this talk of fun? What has fun got to do with anything?

By fun I mean stimulating, enjoyable, engaging, an experience of that magical thing called "flow". 

"Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does". ~ Wikipaedia

I don't know about you but this definition of flow is what I would hope students might experience while learning and in the religious education classroom. No doubt there is some boring stuff that just has to be done (I guess??) but in every lesson we should try to do something that might excite students, engage them, fill them with wonder, make them curious, have them wanting to argue. You get the picture.  Now while we can't guarantee this will happen, we can strive for it by using creative and engaging pedagogy. 

So...after that long winded introductory rant...check out "The Philosophy Man". Jason Buckley's website and resources are based around Philosophy for Children (P4C). I signed up and got the first email and I was pretty delighted with what I received. The activities could be directly used in the RE classroom to fire up student's critical thinking and imagination. Alternatively the activities could be adapted to other areas of religious education. Some of these activities could be used to start the lesson and engage students early on.

Often in the religious education classroom we can be concerned with communicating a particular message and we are answering questions that students haven't even asked yet. It must be a priority to help students think about life and what it means, and begin wondering, and articulating their questions. When this happens we have an opportunity to walk with students and help them to explore. 


21 June 2016

Infographics for Religious Education

Infographics have the potential to bring many aspects of learning together. Creating an effective one requires the ability to identify the important information for a potentially complex topic and to represent it not only beautifully but in a way that is engaging and clarifying.

As a task for students, creating an infographic provides an engaging  and creative way to summarise and synthesise information.

Josh Byers has done some fantastic work on a range of infographics. You can see some of his work here. One of his projects involves creating an infographic for every book of the Bible. Although it would be an involved task it could be interesting to see what students created if asked to make an inforgraphic for a book of the Bible.

An infographic could be created for just about any topic being  investigated. Josh created one looking at the arguments against the resurrection of Jesus and the apologetic responses. It is well worth a look.

14 June 2016

Dust Echoes: Ancient Stories, New Voices

Dust Echoes "is a series of twelve beautifully animated dreamtime stories from Central Arnhem Land, telling stories of love, loyalty, duty to country and aboriginal custom and law."

There is a study guide for each of the videos. The videos themselves can be accessed on the website but some also appear on Youtube.

These videos and resources would be useful in exploring Aboriginal religion and spirituality or even considering values and the way they are expressed in story.

7 June 2016

Short Films for Long Dicussions

Visual media is an essential tool for engaging today's students. Short films in religious education can be a great way to spark student imagination and get them thinking about a particular topic. Even showing a three minute film with any theme and asking them what they think it means is sure to fire up their synapses.

Future Shorts on Youtube is a great source of all kinds of short films.There are also lots of films there that are not appropriate for the school setting, so some searching is required.

The one below would be great for discussing ethics and the question: If you could get away with it would you? A similar question was explored by Plato using the metaphor of the Ring of Gyges. 

This film doesn't have a theme that might seem to directly connect with RE but it could be of value in discussing how changing our hair or other things might change us. It is called Thirty Masks. 

This is a great one for thinking about work and life and dreams.


A great short film that could be used in so many places as a conversation starter or entry point into exploring our place in the world.

31 May 2016

How to talk about faith so students won't tune out

Talking to students about faith related matters can be tricky when there is a wide range of perspectives amongst the students in the classroom. In this video Jonathan Sargeant, Lay Education Office at St Francis College in Brisbane talks about the skill of owning and grounding, which can be very effective in keeping dialogue open.

24 May 2016

Go back to where you came from

The SBS TV Series "Go back to where you came from" which focuses on refugees and asylum seekers has learning resources for years 9-12. There is a full teachers pack with learning experiences focusing on the particular stories of three refugees. While there is no overt religious content in these resources they would certainly form a good basis for units focussing on social justice and its place in the Christian tradition as it flows from the life and teachings of Jesus.

There are also all kinds of other resources and articles on the learning page for the show.

17 May 2016

Character Matters!

"Societies around the globe are rediscovering ancient wisdom: Character matters. In the century ahead, there is no more important human quest than the one the Jubilee Center is undertaking—to generate useful knowledge about how to foster good character in every area of our personal and public lives."

~ Tom Lickona

If you are looking for some great resources on Character Education check out the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

"The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focussing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. The Centre promotes a moral concept of character in order to explore the importance of virtue for public and professional life."

There is plenty of research and many resources on the website with a whole section on Character Education including programs of study for primary and secondary. Of particular note is the Knightly Virtues program which explores virtues through stories such as Anne Frank, Beowulf and Joan of Arc.

12 May 2016

Great religious education? Just add awe and wonder!

One of the fantastic things about children is they start life with a huge capacity for awe and wonder. Unfortunately many people lose this capacity as they grow up. Sometimes this happens far too young and we see apathy in our students about the world they live in and the mysteries and unknowns in the Universe. Good religious education should seek to revive awe and wonder...and we can do this with the help of science and philosophy. Science, because it helps us to see how little we really know and how amazing the Universe is. Philosophy, because it questions so much of what we take for granted.

If we can encourage students to ask questions, think deeply, explore their assumptions and enjoy wondering...we have planted an amazing seed that will grow and bear fruit. If our students remain passive and apathetic it doesn't matter how great our message is, it will fall on barren ground. 

This great little video from Ted Ed was used at the recent DAN Professional Development day. There are many videos out there like this that help students to see that there is much more to the world than what they can see. Enjoy.

28 April 2016

Religious Education with Girls

I grew up as a happy product of the state education system in Queensland, my first teaching years were spent in the state education system and I began my foray into the Anglican Schools network at a co-ed school. This provided a great background for many aspects of teaching. However, when I first started at a girls-only secondary school, I was completely unprepared for the phenomenon where girls in a girls’ school so completely “own the zone”. Perhaps it exists in just that one lovely school, but I hazard a guess that it exists wherever girls are encouraged to be themselves and to respond freely to challenge and are supported in that process. From beginning to end, this was all about relationship.

Creating genuine relationships with girls in any sort of ministry requires a high degree of honesty and openness, admission of vulnerability and personal sharing. Teaching Religious Education in a girls’ school offers abundant opportunity for developing ongoing positive relationships with students. My experience in those first few weeks as I settled into this new planet showed that girls were amazingly open to discussion and to my initial horror, personal disclosure!!  It was all about the relationship with those teenage girls. They were unrelenting in their need to know about me. I was in their Religious Education classroom, the new teacher on the block, and they wanted to know who I was. In our question sessions, they wanted to know my thoughts on creation, evolution, sexuality, promiscuity, divorce, trouble with parents, trouble with friends, theology!

I was delighted by the relationship building opportunities, but I also realised the need for balance in the relationship between staff and student. Taking this slowly seemed the best idea and so I found several ways of sharing personal stories that allowed me to go slow with the relationship building, get an idea of the culture of the school and the personalities of the individual students in the room. The aim is to honour the need for connection while keeping the distance needed for professionalism.

Some examples:
  • Use storytime with a twist: Work up some personal stories that illustrate a point. Make sure these are stories you are happy to share, and spend time imagining your responses to the most unexpected questions – they will come.
  • Consider bringing in some personal photos from your youth – the worse the fashion, the better for building relationships. Spend time thinking about the event depicted, what you wore, the names of people also in the picture, and what they are doing now. “I was sorting through photos on the weekend and thought you’d get a giggle out of ...”   Ultimately the point of this exercise is to prove that life goes on: Your best friend (the one in the purple jumpsuit in that photo) moved over to Germany to study but you are still close and visit whenever possible, and she, by the way was the one who invented the "tim-tam-slam".
  • Remember phrases your parents used over and over again. “Not dressed like that you don’t!” “Be home by ten or heads will roll!” (or was that only MY parents?) Challenge everyone to come up with 3 of their parents’ faves and offer yours too.
  • Bring a favourite book from your younger days and share snippets each lesson. It doesn’t really matter what the book is, just as long as it resonated with you. Be prepared to discuss why it meant something to you then, and why you still think of it today.
Post written by Fiona Hammond

20 April 2016

AARE National Conference

The Australian Association for Religious Education is holding its biennial National Conference in September this year.

This is the blurb from their site:

The Australian Association for Religious Education (AARE) invites you to its biennial conference for 2016. The theme of the conference is Life, Culture, Belief. The development of the Australian Curriculum provides a unique opportunity to set the framework for the ongoing role that religious education can have for all school students. This conference will offer participants the forum to address this question in its broadest context; from AARE’s traditional base in Independent and Catholic education; to our expanding engagement with inter-religious dialogue; and for the first time, to the role of religious education in Government schools.