Moving Biblically Integrated Instruction from Inservice to Inclassroom

Biblically Integrated Instruction, just part of the Christian Education experience, is a highly sought after topic for professional development programming.  Research bears out that teachers have a lack of confidence and understanding regarding how to apply biblically integrated instruction (Matthias & Wideman, 2012).  Professional development that includes direct instruction of the definition and procedures for implementing biblically integrated instruction is needed.

Is direct instruction alone enough?  Probably not.  Even after receiving training and feeling prepared to provide biblically integrated instruction, teachers report that they seldom implement biblically integrated instruction (Jang, 2011).  Therefore, professional development needs to facilitate transfer of training to classroom practice.

Teachers need ongoing support and guidance in order effectively implement biblically integrated instruction.  It’s not enough for teachers to be presented with the definition and directions for how to apply biblically integrated instruction. Characteristics of effective professional development programs include (1) direct instruction through discussion, text, and lecture to learn about  theory behind a practice; (2) opportunities to practice what was learned; (3) structured and open-ended feedback; and (4) coaching (Showers & Joyce, 1996).  Coaching encompasses the elements of effective professional development that results in the transfer of instructional skill and practice into the classroom (DuFour, 1991).

Biblical examples of followers transformed into leaders through coaching affirm the benefits and value of coaching.  The lives of Joshua and Elisha included professional growth facilitated by more experience men.  Moses counseled and guided Joshua.  Elijah developed Elisha.  Paul also trained people to train others as indicated in 2 Timothy 4:11 and 2 Timothy 2:2.  The greatest biblical example of vocational training is seen in the life of Christ as he developed the twelve.

When seeking professional development opportunities for biblically integrated instruction, it is wise to ask how the practice is defined.  Often the term biblical integration is used rather loosely and focuses on aspects of the school culture and spiritual practices.  While maintaining a school culture and spiritual practices that foster students’ faith development is crucial for Christian schools, these things differ from biblically integrated instruction.

Biblically Integrated Instruction involves the instructional process of planning and teaching to help students think through subject matter in such a way as to connect and compare all knowledge to a biblical worldview (MacCullough, 2010).  The PAQ Model of Biblically Integrated Instruction uses 3 strategies to engage students in worldview thinking.  Teachers choose a PAQ strategy that is most compatible with the content and strategically plan where in the unit to execute the strategy in order to activate the students’ critical thinking skills.

Professional development for biblically integrated instruction is deficient without direct instruction as part of in-service training and coaching as part of in-classroom training.  In order to have training transfer to classroom implementation, a combination of instruction and guided practice is required.  As teachers are provided with in-classroom support and guidance they are able to practice applying the techniques they have been taught.  The in-classroom practice with coaching also allows for reflective discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the instruction  along with ways to refine the implementation next time.  In-service training and in-classroom practice is the dynamic duo for professional growth.

Teacher training for the PAQ Model of Biblically Integrated Instruction, a collaborative project between Annie Gallagher, Ph.D. of Transformed PD and Summit Ministries, includes both direct instruction and on-site coaching support.  Teachers receive 12 hours of in-service instruction in the definition, purpose and procedures for how to implement biblically integrated instruction in phase 1 of PAQ Training.  School leaders may then tailor phase 2 of PAQ Training, the coaching phase, to meet their goals and budgets.  Coaching may consist of online and virtual support through email and SKYPE for those schools with limited budgets.  Most schools, however, opt for on-site opportunities of collaborative planning, and rubric-based classroom observations with immediate reflective feedback discussions.

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Dr. Gallagher assists Christian school leaders in establishing their own team of Coaches for biblically integrated instruction.  Coaches are then trained in coaching techniques, and biblically integrated instruction as part of PAQ Coach Training.  By establishing a school based team of Coaches for biblically integrated instruction, the implementation of the PAQ Model can be maintained and refined long-term.

References

DuFour, R. P. (1991). The principal as staff developer. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.

Jang, Y.Y. (2011). An analysis of the integration of faith and learning implemented by Christian elementary school teachers (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from http://digital.library.sbts.edu/bitstream/handle/10392/3735/Jang_sbts_0207D_10058.pdf?sequence=1

MacCullough, M. E. (2010). Developing a worldview approach to biblical integration.  Langhorne, PA: Philadelphia Biblical University.

Matthias, L., & Wideman. R. (2012). Integrity and integration: An exploration of the personal, professional and pedagogical in the professoriate. The ICCTE Journal, 7(2). Retrieved from http://icctejournal.org/issues/v4i1/v4i1-integrity-integration/[9/29/2012 8:57:44 AM]

Showers, B., & Joyce, B. (1996). The evolution of coaching. Educational Leadership, 53(6), 12-16.

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