When you need to learn quickly, learn from others.
When you need to learn quickly, learn from others.

TfT Bulletin #13  |   March 22, 2023

James Clear, author of the formational book Atomic Habits, offers this helpful advice: “When you need to learn quickly, learn from others. When you need to learn deeply, learn from experience.”
We educators learn every day from experience, don’t we? But today, this Bulletin offers you an opportunity to learn quickly from others.
This newletter is dedicated to sharing learnings from the Christian Deeper Learning conference that took place earlier this month at Surrey Christian School. (It was great to see some of you there!) Many of our TfT School Designers presented workshops throughout the days of learning. Each of them chose one slide from their workshop to share and comment on as it applies to Teaching for Transformation.
Some of the thoughts below will be a reminder of a concept you encountered through your TfT journey; others will be new connections. Either way, we as a TfT team hope you will be encouraged and spurred on by the ideas below.
May you learn quickly from others via this Bulletin!

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

Steven Levy, TfT School Designer
“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince
This quotation reminds us that the ultimate appeal of our education must be to our students’ hearts, or “kardia,” as Jamie Smith reminds us. Here is how I articulate this focus for our Christian schools:
If you want to build for the kingdom of heaven, don’t herd students together to memorize the “right answers” and don’t assign them trivial tasks and throwaway assignments, but rather give them real work to meet real needs of the people God loves.
Don’t you think if students’ desire to get out to sea is strong enough, they will learn what it takes to build a boat?
Leading Change: Sustaining a School's Journey in Deeper Learning
Darryl DeBoer, Director of Teaching for Transformation
Yet again (and again and again . . .), the Csikszentmihalyi Flow Theory reminds me of both the simplicity and complexity of leading a diverse staff through the TfT implementation journey. Simple thought: let's get all staff in flow! Complex reality: everyone has a different existing skillset, and we all require different challenges to be in flow!
In the TfT journey, what causes anxiety (too hard!) for one educator results in boredom (too easy!) for another educator. Like a teacher in the classroom who must differentiate concepts and skills to meet the needs of the learners, so must a school leader differentiate the implementation of TfT practices for their staff. This leadership requires constant communication and an imagination for the multiple ways teachers can enter and engage the practices of TfT.
Audience Matters!
Pamela Zuidhof, TfT School Designer
Doing work for an authentic audience both inspires and engages students!  As I reflect on recent learning stories from my own classroom, connecting with an authentic audience (using the top three tiers of the hierarchy of audience) brings a buzz to the classroom: the quality of our work matters, the reason behind our work is important, and student motivation multiplies!  Not only are the students more invested and empowered, but I, as a teacher, am also more invigorated as I design formational learning experiences.
Teaching as Song Writing
Peter Welle, TfT School Designer
What is the idea or purpose of your course that you want your students to sing to themselves long after you're done being their teacher? After the details and much of the "stuff" of your learning has settled into the background of your students’ brains, what is that call you want to pop up in their head because it's lodged deep in their hearts?
In the "teaching as song writing" analogy, the chorus of the song is a lot like our TfT practice of Storyline. What's that simple, catchy call to purposeful action for our students that we hope to engrain in their heads through repetition or the power of the idea?
Tell Me A Story: Awakening Student Engagement Through Storytelling and Performance Art
Jessica De Wit, TfT School Designer
Within the TfT framework, we talk about the idea of “story” a lot–and there are really good reasons why! Brain science shows us again and again how powerfully our brains were designed by God to interact with stories. Not only do we enjoy stories for fun, but it turns out that we learn best through stories as well.
The studies in the graphic above were very compelling to me as they illustrate just how much more information we can retain when the learning is presented as part of a story rather than statistics or facts alone. This knowledge inspires and challenges me to continue the work of weaving learning into God’s story, and reminds me how truly dynamic the invitation is to “See the Story. Live the Story.” 
People of God's Story: Story-Formed People
Amanda Albright, TfT Director of Learning
As we talked in the workshop about what it means to See God’s Story and Live God’s Story, we unpacked N.T. Wright’s example from Shakespeare. Wright suggests that maybe living our part in God’s Story is a little like acting out the final act of a Shakespearean play. We know how God's story ends—in a wedding feast with The King.
Perhaps, he suggests, being fully alive in God’s Story means we live out our part with consistency with what has gone before us (the first four acts) and what the people of God have always been called to (justice seeking, servant working, earth keeping, image bearing). Playing our part in God’s Story also means that we pair that consistency with creativity that responds to the time and place in which we find ourselves; e.g., community building and order discovering look different in 2023 Surrey, BC than they did in the Garden of Eden. The Story forms and shapes us—it gives us consistency and invites us to creativity as we play our part.
Equipping Teachers and Inviting Students to Connect Their Learning to God’s Story
Pat Kornelis, TfT School Designer
This weekend I had a delightful conversation with my neighbor about some of the changes happening in our neighborhood. In that conversation, I was reminded how reflecting on that change through my neighbor’s eyes deepened my understanding of its impact on us all. Reflection . . . the beautiful opportunity to consider deeply from so many perspectives and angles the ways in which we are connected to Kingdom work. It is through the intentional use of reflection practices before, during, and after learning that we invite our students to critically assess and understand how they are seeing God’s story unfolding, how they are part of the Story, and how they can enter more fully into that Story. This truth is why, in TfT schools, we recognize that whereas reflection practices take important learning time, they are essential practices because we desire meaningful, deep, transformative student learning. 
Scared in the Ordinary
Carey Franklin, TfT School Designer
Our days are filled with a myriad of tasks, conversations, and movement. How do these things fill our awareness with recognition of the presence of God that is all around us? God is continuously inviting us to experience deep belonging within the Kingdom story. What are the daily practices, big and small, that invite us into relationship and therefore shape the depth of connection and love that we in turn offer to others? Perhaps savoring a heartwarming conversation with a friend, going on a beauty walk through nature, or breathing a breath prayer with your favorite scripture. These micro practices invite us to experience sacred presence in the ordinariness of everyday life.