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I recently returned from an incredible event at Concordia Publishing House. For the past four years, CPH has gathered faculty representatives from different universities in the Concordia University System (CUS) to discuss and explore a wide variety of topics about the future of Lutheran education, what is working, how CPH and the CUS can partner, and much more. I’ve had the honor of helping to facilitate some of the discussions the last two years, and it truly is an honor. I left this year’s event with so much gratitude. I am thankful for the incredible talent and commitment in our Concordia University System. I am thankful for the truly world-class publishing house that serves our church and Lutheran school system. I am also thankful for the gift of fellowship and partnership in this grand and far-reaching work of Lutheran education.
What does this have to do with your average classroom teacher in a Lutheran school? For me, this gathering is a reminder that we are in this together. We are part of an incredible network. In addition, given the fact that we find ourselves living, learning, and teaching in an increasingly connected world, we can make use of this massive network in ways never before possible.
Teaching in a classroom need not be a solitary task. Consider what would happen if each of us invested in reaching out to and partnering with teachers and university faculty throughout our system.
- We shared challenges and worked together to solve them.
- We shared resources with one another.
- We shared our best lessons with one another.
- We offered tips and suggestions to one another.
- We partnered with Concordia Publishing House even more to create world-class learning materials that reflect our distinct mission and theology.
- We built networks around a variety of areas we already see with the Lutheran Education Association email groups, extending this to many other areas of interest.
- We created blended-learning courses together and shared them, so students in different schools could benefit from their local, face-to-face class and also connect and collaborate with students in Lutheran schools around the world in the same course.
- We created inquiry-based, project-based, and game-based learning experiences that extended across schools, helping students to discover the power of collaborating and learning across networks.
- We shared news, prayer requests, and promising practices with one another on a frequent basis.
Imagine the power of such a network. Even the rural school with two teachers, by connecting with this larger network of Lutheran schools, could be incredibly well resourced, supported, and encouraged. Along the way, students and teachers would have a greater awareness that they are part of something larger than just their local school. They are part of a nearly five-hundred-year-old education movement that has changed the world and continues to do so. These things are not unrealistic dreams. They are possible and readily available to us today. All that it takes is our time and effort to start building upon the network that already exists.
Perhaps we can all start by making a simple goal for this year. Think about taking on one or more of the following challenges.
- Search the Web and find at least five Lutheran teachers who are teaching a grade and/or subject that you are teaching. Reach out to them by email and invite them to join you in creating a simple network where you share tips, resources, and ideas with one another for the school year.
- Join the #LuthEd Twitter chat each Monday night this year, connecting with Lutheran educators around the world.
- Come up with one unit that you cocreate with a teacher at a different Lutheran school, and have your students go through it together.
- Create a penpal/keypal program with another Lutheran school, and leverage it as a standard part of one or more of your classes.
- Come up with your own networking challenge.
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