Section III. An Excellent Christian Teacher. Characteristics and Expectations. GRCS Handbook 1

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1 Section III An Excellent Christian Teacher Characteristics and Expectations GRCS Handbook 1

2 Beliefs and Vision Statement In the sphere of home, church, community and school, Grand Rapids Christian schools have the special role in developing academic learning for school age students. We provide students with opportunities and high expectations for deep learning about God and their faith through understandings about God s world, ourselves, culture and our society and solid preparation for academic life beyond high school. The mission of the Grand Rapids Christian Schools is to prepare students to be servants of Christ in contemporary society. GRCS staff infuse this mission into their teaching, student learning activities, and work in the school community. 1. Grand Rapids Christian Schools Curriculum A. Because of our commitment to excellent Christian education we hold to certain beliefs and practices. We understand that our school program ought to reach a variety of learners and offer a content of exploration as well as opportunities for students to develop core content understandings and skill. We will develop and use best practices for instruction and a variety of assessment strategies. For these reasons, we intentionally infuse our curriculum with certain themes. 1. A deep understanding of God and His creation. 2. Discernment especially regarding social and societal issues. 3. A redemptive disposition that includes maintaining a community of grace. 4. Promotion of restoration that includes opportunities for service learning. B. GRCS uses the Michigan Curriculum Framework and standards for teaching and learning as the framework for our K-12 curriculum offerings, content and skills. C. GRCS uses Michigan Educational Assessment Standards and the Michigan Merit Exams as the standards for assessment in our K-12 schools. Other assessments used include Measures for Academic Progress (grades 2-8) and Michigan Literacy Progress Profile (grade K-2). 2. Grand Rapids Christian Schools Classroom Environment GRCS maintains a rich, safe, and orderly learning environment. We believe that student learning is best nurtured within a learning community that offers grace, consistent expectations and a well-managed classroom and school. We focus on providing a program that challenges and supports for all students. 3. Grand Rapids Christian Schools Professional Learning Community GRCS provides staff with a strong professional learning community that expects professional competency, supportive collaboration, community contributions, and adequate communication. We encourage personal and collaborative professional learning and growth throughout the district. Teachers and school leaders believe students can be successful when student, teacher and parent work together to prepare and support students in their work and membership in the school community. 4. Grand Rapids Christian Schools Staff Competency and Professional Growth Each year, GRCS professional instructional staff demonstrates their competence in five areas that embody excellent GRCS Christian teaching standards and implement growth plans for professional goals that enhance in those areas. GRCS Handbook 2

3 The Five Competencies of Effective Christian Teachers 1. Maintain strong personal and professional characteristics 2. Show excellence in curriculum content planning, alignment, and delivery 3. Demonstrate proficiency in instructional practices, management, and assessment, 4. Establish an engaging learning environment and positive student relationships 5. Contribute to collegiality, community, and use of district expectations for communications These five competencies of effective teaching and student learning have been identified by GRCS based on current research and understanding of curriculum content, practices for effective teaching and learning, our philosophy of a Christian school environment and integration of faith and learning, and the implementation of our mission. The Excellent Christian Teacher Overview of Expectations Grand Rapids Christian School teachers affirm in their hiring that they are servants of Christ called to teach in a Christian school setting. Teachers are expected to grow in their professional knowledge of students and subject areas, and to continue to develop effective teaching practices Effective personal characteristics include use of humor, consideration of students and others in the community, openness to other viewpoints and student ideas, enthusiasm and stimulating interest for learning, kindliness and fairness, encouragement of student participation in their learning, development of a rich and stable learning environment, preparedness, management of an orderly classroom through positive behavior supports, self control, observation of professional confidentiality, punctuality, attention to availability during the school day and after school hours, appropriate professional appearance and behaviors. Teachers are expected to maximize relationships and promote community within the classroom, the school, and with parents and community members. Expected behaviors include being approachable, considerate, shows respect for all people, values diversity and promotes inclusions, treats people fairly, shares a sense of purpose, inspires people to be their best, promotes commitment not compliance, gives credit to others, is generous with praise, listens actively, is a team player, strives for collaboration, uses a network of resources, and is someone people can work with. Teachers will create learning environments that promotes active student engagement and participation in learning. Through these environments and relationships with teachers, students will be motivated to give their best efforts towards developing knowledge and skills that will prepare them for using their God-given gifts to work in God s kingdom. Teachers expect every student to contribute to a rich, safe and unified learning community. GRCS Handbook 3

4 Our teachers commit to God s calling in their work. Teachers are encouraged to use their individual God-given gifts and strengths to enhance the overall school program. They understand and seek to grow in their commitment to integrating their faith into their teaching and curriculum. They show their commitment to Grand Rapids Christian Schools by providing students with a strong academic program that includes nurturing students on their faith journey. The Grand Rapids Christian Schools seeks to prepare students to be servants of Christ in contemporary society. Teachers understand our commitment to preparing students for success in post-secondary education and careers of the 21 st century. Teachers expect their students to demonstrate knowledge of our Christian perspective and use this understanding as they make decisions, raise questions, and examine real-life problems throughout the curriculum. The Grand Rapids Christian Schools commits to working as partners with family and students, collaborating on learning through homework, practice and completion of assignments as well as preparation for school. Knowing that educational success is dependent upon these relationships, parents, community members and churches partner with GRCS staff in nurturing the spiritual, social, emotional, and academic growth of all learners. This is done through direct involvement in the learning process, supporting and nurturing learning and faith outside of school, and through prayer for our students, staff, and the school s endeavors. GRCS Handbook 4

5 Standard I of an Excellent Christian Teacher: Personal and Professional Competencies An excellent Christian teacher shows their acceptance of and commitment to these areas: 1. A professional focus on teaching, learning, subject area proficiency, the learning process, and academic preparedness of students for the next level of schooling or life. 2. Personal characteristics such as a professional demeanor, ethics, and attributes, as well as a Christlike attitude and relational behavior in school and with students. 3. Implementation of lifelong learning in the profession, professional growth and reflective practice; as well as knowledge of certification, credentials, and State of Michigan teacher certification expectations. 4. Personal understandings and practices that nurture the faith journey of students in a school environment. An excellent Christian teacher will demonstrate competency in these areas through the following personal and professional behaviors: Develop an integrated reformed Christian worldview and nurture faith development within their current assignment; Acknowledge and seek guidance in their calling to teach in a Christian school community; Model biblical principles in comportment and relation to others Facilitate GRCS mission of preparing students for their service and God s kingdom Affirm students, parents, and colleagues as children of God and servants in His kingdom; Keep current on educational scholarship and research based curriculum and instruction including that which emphasize Christian content, and educational practices; Share and seek development and improvement in strategies, content and learning activities; Maintain personal communication skills; Demonstrate use of appropriate technology skills Maximizing supportive and positive relationships within the school community. Understand and comply with GRCS policies on records and certification; Do whatever is necessary as a Christian teacher to be a catalyst for student success academically, spiritually, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. GRCS Handbook 5

6 Standard II of an Excellent Christian Teacher: Curriculum Effectiveness in Content Planning, Alignment, and Delivery An excellent Christian teacher shows current knowledge and understanding of these areas: 1. Curriculum content and how to design content rich lessons that are well-paced through the curriculum. 2. Christian Reformed integration into the curriculum, instruction, assessments, and assignments. 3. Michigan curriculum standards, course frameworks, and grade level guidelines. 4. Use of assessment results for determining how curriculum will best be delivered to diverse he learners. 5. Cross cultural and linguistic competencies (or lack thereof) within the curriculum. 6. Research-base for quality curriculum design and content. 7. Alignment and mapping of curriculum to state content standards. 8. Collaboratively developed curriculum, assignments, and assessments that is vertically and horizontally aligned. 9. School-wide and district-wide curriculum and post- school expectations, including those that accompany GRCS initiatives and the School Improvement Plan. An excellent Christian teacher will demonstrate their competency in these areas through the following behaviors: Deliver the Grand Rapids Christian School s grade level content and course syllabus expectations with integrity, Intentionally plan, prepare, and deliver curriculum Teach Michigan Standards and benchmarks, including grade level expectations and core curriculum guidelines; Acquire deep knowledge of the subject/content that is taught; Translate the school s learning goals into clear and focused lessons, learning experiences, or activities; Integrate reformed Christian understandings as they relate to content, and infuse this into assignments, lessons, and assessments; Develop and use a variety of classroom assessment tools including common formative assessments, to inform teaching; Integrating new curriculum content and other changes in a timely and effective manner; Integrating high level thinking (e.g., problem-solving, analysis) mastery of the content standards, and use of content skills into assignments, learning activities, and homework; Maximize technology use for content delivery when appropriate. GRCS Handbook 6

7 Standard III of an Excellent Christian Teacher Demonstrate Proficiency in Instructional Practices, Management, and Assessment An excellent Christian teacher shows their current knowledge and understanding of these areas: 1. Research-based, best practices in instructional planning and delivery; 2. The learning process in terms of content, process, and product appropriate to student readiness, interest, and the modality of instruction best suited to the content. 3. Effective and timely accommodation, modification, challenge, enrichment, and differentiation techniques; 4. A variety of instructional resources and tools, and how to apply those to engage diverse learners;; 5. A variety of assessment formats including formative and summative options 6. How and when to use assessment information to inform curriculum and instruction, especially to make instructional changes. 7. The integration of GRCS instructional skills, goals, and strategies into teaching and learning. 8. Knowledge of their students as individual learners with unique instructional needs An excellent Christian teacher demonstrates their competency in these effective teaching practices: Use a variety of learning opportunities and teaching strategies that maximize student engagement and learning; Use both formative and summative assessment strategies to assess student understanding, and make instructional changes when needed; Differentiate instruction appropriately across content, process, and product appropriate to student readiness, interest, and the modality of instruction best suited to the content; Implement best practices for homework, extra credit, grading, and assignment expectations Implement content, product, and process that emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, problem-based learning, blended instruction, collaboration and inter-personal flexibility (e.g., cooperative learning), multi-media and multi-lingual communication methods; Incorporating technology, cross-cultural competencies, and school improvement targets into lessons; Modifying and accommodating lessons for student learning needs; Challenging students using content complexity, critical thinking, accelerated pacing, and working with academic peers; Nurturing student learning though challenges, support, and caring relationships; Providing regular and appropriate feedback on student learning to students and parents; GRCS Handbook 7

8 Standard IV of an Excellent Christian Teacher: Establish an Engaging Learning Environment and Positive Student Relationships An excellent Christian teacher shows competence in their knowledge and understanding of these areas: 1. Current motivational theory and research-based strategies; 2. Current practices for building positive student relationships and communication strategies; 3. Effective, research-based instructional management practices and routines including positive behavior support; 4. Effective record keeping and feedback that includes student/parent communications; 5. Learning communities within a classroom; 6. Current understandings of the society and culture that support teacher understandings of the classroom and students and maintain teacher relevance. An excellent Christian teacher demonstrates their competence in these effective teaching practices through the following behaviors: Provides experiences for building relationships within and across classrooms/disciplines, so students see themselves as part of the GRCS community of learners; Prepare, organize, and teach lessons and classroom rules and routines for effective and efficient instruction; Providing opportunities within instruction for creativity, application, teamwork/cooperative learning, problem-solving, self-directed learning, and technology use; Establish a fair and caring classroom climate where students feel safe, valued, and respected as individuals; Defines and reinforces responsible behavior through positive behavior support practices, Enforce schoolwide and classroom guidelines and rules, and consequences for inappropriate behavior; Build healthy, encouraging, positive relationships with students in appropriate manner through rapport, age-appropriate expectations, and welcoming non- verbal body language; Communicates and respond consistently and in age-appropriate ways to discuss and problem-solve with students about their conduct or other concerns; Teach responsible discipleship with the classroom and school community; Maintain high academic and social/behavior expectations for all students. GRCS Handbook 8

9 Standard V of an Excellent Christian Teacher: Contribute to Collegiality, Community, and Use of District Communication Expectations An excellent Christian teacher shows competence in knowledge and understanding of these areas: 1. Appropriate and current best practices in inter-personal communication skills that include use of technology applications; 2. Importance of each staff member s role and commitment to in creating a professional learning community within and across disciplines, building-wide, and district-wide. 3. Individual teacher contributions to an efficient and effective school environment that includes accurate, timely record keeping and reporting, maintenance and respectful use of school facilities and resources, and implementation of school/district communication policies and practices; 4. Our community s expectations, school concerns, district expectations for communications, collegiality and school community contributions in order to positively affect student learning and faith development. An excellent Christian teacher demonstrates competence in theseeffective professional practices through the following behaviors: follows and implements the policies and procedures of the school and district; develops and maintain a safe and effective learning environment in the schools and during school related programs; maximizes relationships with colleagues through participation in collaborative work at the classroom and school level; Speaks of colleagues and community members in a positive and professional manner; Rreports accurately with clear evidences of student learning and gives timely feedback on student learning; Develops communication tools and practices that support student learning and collaboration with parents and family; Communicates efficiently, professionally, constructively, and cooperatively with all colleagues/staff, students, families, and community members; Demonstrates personal flexibility and cooperation towards school needs and institutional changes; Carries out school routines and duties diligently, promptly, and accurately; Contributes effectively to common planning efforts, lesson study, assessment development and implementation, data management and to other district projects; contributes to the reflective solutions of educational issues and school concerns; Implements effective organization of activities, resource/facility use, scheduling, functioning of teams, committees, and events; Maintains respectful, personal and student use of school technology, equipment, facilities and property; Demonstrates commitment to GRCS and school community initiatives and programs GRCS Handbook 9

10 Conversation about Effective Teaching For An Excellent Christian Teacher Instructional staff should be engaged in regular self reflection and have regular conversations with school leaders, administrators, and colleagues about excellence, expectations, and the instructional standards in the Grand Rapids Christian Schools. These may to accompany staff observations. Discussions may be formal or informal, summative or formative. Questions and observations about effective professional practices in the classroom and school community: How does the teacher contribute to the effective learning community? How does the teacher contribute to effective school organization? How does the teacher maximize relationships in the school setting with students, colleagues and community members? Does the teacher participate actively in team, grade level, committee, subject area work, and resource sharing and assume leadership responsibilities when appropriate? Does the teacher follow the policies and procedures of the school and district? Does the teacher take responsibility for tasks related to his/her classroom and school programs? Does the teacher use school technology, equipment, facilities and property appropriately and respectfully? Does the teacher demonstrate personal flexibility and cooperation towards school needs and institutional changes? Does the teacher carry out routine duties willingly, promptly, effectively and diligently? Does the teacher contribute to the reflective solutions of educational issues and concerns? How does the teacher communicate effectively, appropriately, and in a timely way with parents, students, and community? How does the teacher demonstrate effective implementation of the school s mission, curriculum, instructional and assessment strategies? Observations of effective teaching in the classroom and school community: Is there evidence in classroom activities, assignments, and assessments of student learning; that prepares them to be servants of God in contemporary society? How does the teacher model biblical and professional principles in their comportment and in relating to others? Does the teacher regularly exemplify Christ-like dispositions and positive relationships towards students and colleagues? How does the teacher keep current on educational practices, and implement school and district policies and procedures? How does the teacher show growth and evidence of professional learning? How does the teacher seek opportunities to foster faith development and create experiences for integrating faith and learning? How does the teacher show competency in their teaching assignment? Does the teacher present him/herself appropriately within a professional role in interactions with students, in parent-teacher relationships and in the broader school community? GRCS Handbook 10

11 Observations and questions about effective teaching: Are lessons clearly designed and executed? What is the learning goal for each lesson? Is the teacher implementing GRCS curriculum? Are there connections to Michigan standards and expectations? How does the teacher plan to assess learning and what standards will be used? How does the teacher consistently plan and engage students with- rigorous, relevant, important, and focused learning activities and assignments? What kinds of subject related skills are students using regularly? What kind of critical thinking or learning levels are students using regularly? What homework practices are used? How do students show their learning? How does the teacher build connections to the reformed Christian understandings? How does the teacher show their deep knowledge of the content? How does the teacher show that they are well prepared for this lesson? What learning strategy was planned to develop content knowledge and understanding? How is technology used for instruction when appropriate? Is there evidence of differentiation strategies being effectively applied to instruction based on the learners and the content? Observations and questions about effective learning: What is the evidence of effective learning in this classroom? What instructional practices are used in this lesson? How does the teacher communicate learning goals? How does the lesson use differentiation or other learning strategies?? How do students show active engagement with their learning? How are students processing their learning? Are students engaged in meaningful learning activities? Is the lesson clear and connected? Does the teacher give organized cohesive explanations and clear directions? Are classroom procedures and materials conducive to effective and efficient learning? Is there evidence that the teacher understands and responds to special learning needs? Does the teacher provide enrichment and challenges? How does the teacher communicate information about student learning and progress? How does the teacher provide feedback to students in a timely manner? Observations and Questions about effective teaching in classroom and school community: Student relationships and learning community Is the teacher genuinely respectful and interested in students? How are students, parents, and colleagues affirmed as children of God and servants in His kingdom? Are there evidences of student cooperation and appropriate behavior in the classroom, halls, chapel and other school activities? Is there respect and caring interaction in the classroom and school areas? Does the teacher use a variety of motivational strategies to engage students? Is student/teacher contact maintained in hallways, chapel, and other areas of the school and school grounds? GRCS Handbook 11

12 Do teachers demonstrate positive relationship building behaviors towards students? Do students work and interact together in a cordial and collaborative way? Do students work collaboratively with clear focus and appropriate teacher supervision? Management of Class Time and Student Learning Is the teacher well prepared to make good use of time? Is the classroom well organized? Are learning activities well organized Are there high academic and social/behavior expectations for all students that are clearly communicated and consistently enforced? Are students engaged in meaningful learning activities for most of the class time? Is the teacher engaged with students during the class time? Does the teacher use a variety of appropriate strategies to engage all students? Is the lesson well paced and directed by the teacher? Are classroom routines and instructional activities well organized? Is there evidence of expectations for student responsibility and ownership for learning? Are classroom rules and routines and school policies and procedures enforced during the class? Management of Classroom Conduct Are there clearly enforced classroom procedures and behavioral expectations? What positive behavior support strategies are used to teach student behavior expectations for classroom atmosphere conducive to learning? Is the teacher using a variety of effective management strategies and best practices to develop an orderly classroom? Is the teacher aware of class dynamics and individual student behaviors? How are individual appropriate behaviors positively supported? Are student issues handled firmly and respectfully? Is the teacher using a variety of strategies to develop or manage an individual student s behavior? How have long-term individual classroom conduct/behavioral concerns been addressed? What school support has been made available for on-going conduct/behavior concerns for an individual student or groups of students? GRCS Handbook 12

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