A parent asks you, ‘How does your class help my child to grow in their faith?’
Answering this question implies that you have a clear idea of how your teaching might support faith formation AND that you have some way of knowing that your answer is true. This resource sets out to help you (and your students) with both of these challenges.
So how does your teaching feed into students’ faith formation? You might point to how students have been studying Christian texts or debating big questions about life and faith. Or you might explain that students are encouraged to pray and read the Bible in class. Perhaps you would describe a service project, or how your students look out for one another’s needs. Maybe your students have opportunities to share their beliefs, or to reflect silently on a challenging text, or to question what is really true. Notice that this brief list already suggests that there might be a whole range of ways in which faith development might be influenced in a classroom. Faith development is about more than just beliefs, and it stretches beyond those classroom moments when something directly devotional appears. If all of life, even when we are students, is lived before the face of God, then faith will work itself out in many ways in the life of a school, not just through a prayer or a Bible verse.
If your student’s vocation right now is to live their life before God as a student, in what ways might that calling work its way out? What kinds of teaching practices might support students in that calling? And how might we be able to know whether those practices are in fact bearing fruit?
What This Survey Provides
That is where this resource comes in. The Practicing Faith Survey is designed to assess your students’ investment in a range of practices. It asks about whether they engage in practices connected to knowing God, caring for others in the school community, seeking truth, discerning our motives, and serving the needs of the wider world. (There are resources on this site to help both you and your students explore further what we mean by each of these and how they are relevant.)
There are two important benefits to focusing on Christian practices.
Connected to Teaching
First, focusing on students’ practices, rather than just what beliefs they say they hold or whether they pray, opens an immediate connection to your teaching practices. As students complete the survey, they discover to what degree various kinds of Christian practices characterize their life as a student. Their individual answers will be anonymous, but the feedback provided on overall trends will can provide you with a sense of how your teaching practices might be supporting them, and what you might need to change.
Connected to Life
Second, a focus on practices lets us see how students are connecting faith to their daily life without trying to put a number on what is in their heart. We cannot offer you data that says that your students are now 73% humble or a B+ in loving their neighbor. We can look at how they go about caring for the student next to them or reflecting on their own motives. As we do this, we can offer a map of which kinds of Christian practices are taking root in their daily choices.