MOTIVATING STUDENTS POLICY

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1 Vision Statement To see parents and children experience the benefits of Bible based, Christ-centred, parent-controlled education in order that they may be prepared and equipped for a life of service as disciples of Jesus Christ. Mission Statement To serve Christian families by operating one or more schools, as the Lord enables and prospers us, and that while remaining faithful to our vision, and to the Reformed faith and the worldview of our founders, to provide Christian education of the highest quality for as many as desire it for their children. Rationale The principles by which Tyndale has sought faithfully to conduct its task of educating children as a covenant community under the grace and sovereignty of God, are encapsulated in the words of the Motivating Students Policy. For many people this policy represents the very essence of what Tyndale is all about; the motivational distinctive we have as a Christian school amongst many. Familiar sayings, such as we don t give rewards at Tyndale and the reward is in the task have encapsulated this policy, often with much confusion and misunderstanding to new members to the school. This revision of the Motivating Students Policy is therefore an attempt to clearly define and positively restate the foundational principles of motivating students at Tyndale, which we have sought as a community to follow faithfully since our school s foundation. Continued refinement of the wording of this policy to aid communication and consistent implementation, is the main reason for this revision of the policy. Motivation has to do with the reason behind a particular behaviour, or the purpose for acting in a certain way. Our motivation for doing things is very much connected to our understanding of reality (our world view) and our perception of our place and significance within that reality. Motivation for living and learning within God s world as members of a covenant community of disciples of Christ is different to the motivation of those adhering to a secular, materialistic world view that places the individual in the place of God as the final authority to determine meaning in life. In such a world individual needs and wants rule supreme and the pursuit of material rewards, power, security and social position predominantly define success. In contrast, as God s people in God s world, seeking to advance the reign of Christ on earth, our motivation will differ in many respects from those living around us, as we live to serve our Lord and each other as members of God s family. True education in the words of the Educational Creed is the preparation and equipment of the child for his office and calling as God s image-bearer and steward in this world where the special task of the school is to lead the child to discern the meaning and structure of the creation under the guidance of the Word of God and to train the child in the use and development of his God given talents, so that he may be equipped to serve Christ as King in all spheres of life to the Glory of God and the well-being of his fellow men (Association For Christian Education of Blacktown).

2 As a community of parents, teachers and students motivated by our relationship with our Lord and having our identity, security and purpose in Him, we respond with purpose and enthusiasm as we investigate and seek to understand more of our God-created world and seek to advance the reign of Christ on earth so that our Lord may find us busy in His garden when He comes in glory (Association of Christian Education). Nowhere in Scripture or in the Educational Creed based upon it, is there support for unmotivated people or alternatively, highly motivated people, seeking to serve their own interests in denial of our Lord and at the expense and exclusion of others. The Motivating Students Policy is a significant foundational document in the school, providing direction as we nurture our students through productive learning experiences. It integrates the Biblical principles of working together in community with sound, well-established educational practice. This policy links us to our past and represents one of our key distinctives as a Christian educational community with a strong heritage. It provides a justification for our educational practice over many years, as we have sought to advance God s kingdom in a secular world. The Motivating Students Policy seeks to integrate Biblically based concepts of grace, intrinsic human value and unconditional love into the classroom environment so that students are able to experience a distinctive Christian education. Its emphasis on equality under God, with differing gifts and abilities, and on cooperative learning without destructive competition, boasting, and without the need for extrinsic reward, is honouring to God and instrumental in training up disciples of Christ, witnessing to His glory and grace. This policy which flows from a Biblical, Christian world view and sound educational principles for motivating students, aims to provide Christian education of the highest quality at Tyndale.

3 Motivating Students Policy 1) Motivation through Relationship One of the fundamental distinctives of our school is that we are a group of people united in relationship with each other - a covenant community of believers, because of our common relationship in Christ. As members of the family of God, with God as our Father and under His authority, we work together in relationship, not as individuals. Being in relationship is fundamentally important to us and underpins the Motivating Students Policy at Tyndale. Our motivation as God s people is focused and intensified through our relationship with Jesus, the source of all truth and life, and by our desire to honour and please Him, because of His goodness and grace towards us. The highest motivator for living and learning well is gratitude to God for His mercy and goodness in Jesus. Students are encouraged to see that being in relationship with Christ brings meaning and purpose into life, and a sense of acceptance and significance which is highly motivational. Students are motivated through relationships with teachers, when the student feels worthwhile and significant. The security and confidence a student has in his teacher is a powerful motivator. A strong, caring, personal relationship between teacher and student in which the student is believed in and expected to achieve, as well as being held accountable, is powerful motivation for learning. Passionate, inspired teaching that communicates a love of the subject as well as the learner is highly motivational, fostering a climate of mutual respect. 2) Motivation through Cooperative Learning At Tyndale we believe that learning about God and His world and our place in it is a cooperative venture, rather than a competitive one. This follows on naturally from our understanding of the centrality of community and family, where we work together rather than as independent, unrelated individuals. Therefore, our classrooms have a cooperative rather than a competitive atmosphere where students are encouraged to use their abilities to work in partnership with others to gain understanding, to develop skills and to make significant progress on meaningful tasks. In this way, learning at Tyndale is not at the expense of others but in partnership with others, so that all benefit. The emphasis in all our learning endeavours is not on winning or losing, or competing with others in order to achieve a higher result. Deliberately playing students off against each other is contrary to our ethos. Rather, the focus is to honour the Lord through the full use of our gifts in an attitude of service towards others. However, Tyndale is not against competition where competition is intrinsic in the task, such as in sporting and debating events, external subject competitions, BOS examinations, or selection trails where finding the highest achieving or most skilful person to represent the group or school is required.

4 3) Motivation through Relevant and Meaningful Learning Experiences At Tyndale we seek to motivate students by making learning meaningful and relevant, because we believe that when students understand the purpose of a task and its application to their lives in God s world, they will be more motivated to learn. Therefore the purpose and value of content and skills taught will be part of the learning experience. As a learning community under the sovereignty of God, committed to discovering and knowing truth; the truth of God s Word and His world, we seek to motivate students by engaging them in a journey to find and understand truth. The Bible provides us with answers to some of the basic questions of purpose and meaning in life, with ultimate truth residing in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and true freedom through knowing truth (John 8:32). A truly authentic Christian education will therefore be a liberating and motivating experience for those engaged in it. 4) Motivation through a Love of Learning and Discovery At Tyndale we seek to develop in children a love of learning that values the journey of discovery, rather than viewing learning as a means to an end, to be endured and completed as quickly as possible. By engaging our students in meaningful learning tasks that are, as far as possible, intrinsically rewarding, we seek to develop in our students a positive attitude towards learning and work, which values the process of learning and the development of skills associated with it. In this sense we believe that there should be reward in the task of learning as much as in the celebration of success and achievement at the conclusion. Total engagement in the process of learning is therefore viewed as being a necessary and worthwhile experience, in order for there to be a significant product of learning to celebrate. The reward is in the task is therefore properly understood as being just that - attempting the task, recognising and facing all of the challenges associated with it and making progress towards a goal is a rewarding experience in itself, which results in deep and sustained learning. Properly understood in this way, it becomes clear that valuable learning focuses on fully engaging children in the present learning experience, including reflecting on the process and skills being developed, rather than drawing their attention away to focus on a prize or reward as the motivation for learning. 5) Motivation through a Focus on Intrinsic Rewards A focus on the learning process and the intrinsic rewards of developing and improving associated skills, is viewed as a biblically sound approach and also the most effective motivation for sustained learning.

5 Tyndale Christian School is not philosophically against students and other community members receiving recognition for effort and service, provided the source of our capacity and potential for effort is rightfully acknowledged, as the Lord, Jesus Christ. Rather, the school is opposed to the use of rewards, such as tokens, trophies, or monetary prizes, as the primary motivation in education. While tangible rewards may come naturally as a consequence of productive learning and are different things for different people, to focus on extrinsic rewards may undermine the more important attention that needs to be given to the intrinsic rewards of learning. Taken to its extreme, is the situation where a teacher may come to falsely believe that the only way to motivate students is to bribe and manipulate them with the promise of rewards conditional upon them performing or behaving. In this situation the focus of education shifts from the valuable learning process in which the student is engaged, to the object or reward that the student anticipates. Tyndale Christian School views such a situation as devaluing the learning experience, often resulting in shallow, selfish and superficial learning. 6) Motivation through Development of Gifts, Abilities and Skills Our role as educators includes identifying and acknowledging students skills and abilities and encouraging and equipping children to develop and productively use these gifts. In so doing, we release and empower students to be the people God uniquely created them to be. Children need to be nurtured and trained to be more skilful in using gifts and abilities, experiencing a degree of success and achievement through participating in productive learning and service opportunities. The reward is only in the task if the task has some purpose, value and meaning for the student and if the task provides opportunities for all students to experience a measure of success and achievement. 7) Motivation through Appropriate Feedback Making progress on meaningful tasks and growing in knowledge and understanding are rewarding aspects of learning. The satisfaction gained from investigating a problem, arriving at a solution through persistent effort, exploring the world working independently or as a team, assisting others and being assisted, is considerable, particularly within the context of seeking to honour and serve God. However, students need effective and timely feedback on their progress and achievements in order to stay on task in their learning. Positive and constructive feedback encourages, guides and motivates students in their learning and energises them to remain focused. Teachers should take opportunities to encourage and acknowledge students who have used their gifts and abilities to make significant progress in their learning. The student who works hard to achieve results commensurate with his ability should be acknowledged and commended, as in the example of the faithful servant. Well done good and faithful servant (Matt 25:21) The nature of encouragement needs to be understood clearly. Encouragement literally means to enable to have courage and is future focused. All children need encouragement and both parents and teachers

6 recognise its importance. However, encouragement should not be seen as a conditional arrangement, contingent upon a child performing a task to the satisfaction of a teacher or parent. Rather, it is to be the environment in which the child is immersed; an environment which gives him the support and courage to persevere with diligence, even when faced with failure. The classroom environment is very important in motivating students. Children need feedback about the learning in which they are engaged. Such feedback consists of speaking the truth in love. The feedback that students receive will be specific and truthful and will lead the child to gain understanding and control over the task, and a sense of success and achievement, which are very strong motivators. Giving children constructive and positive information on the strengths and weaknesses of the work they produce is the most desirable form of encouraging children to achieve to their potential. Regaining Lost Motivation in Students While children need to be taught to value their learning experiences and to see the reward in the task, for many students the challenges and difficulties of learning result in frustration, despair and a loss of motivation. How does this policy position address the issue of the loss of motivation in students? Tyndale Christian School affirms the worth of all students, created in the image of God, with tremendous potential in Christ. Children deserve respect as image bearers of God, with the freedom and responsibility before God to make choices, and increasingly to be held accountable for their decisions. Teachers do not give up on students or blame them for their loss of motivation. Rather, it is the school and the individual teacher s responsibility to provide and maintain the right conditions to promote good teaching and learning. All staff will exhibit those attitudes and behaviours that encourage students to regain confidence and motivation to receive and take ownership of the gifts that God has graciously given them, so that students might be prepared and equipped for service as disciples of Christ. Guidelines for the classroom Children need an environment in which they feel safe, loved and encouraged; an environment in which their worth is not linked to their abilities or achievements, but is found in their identity as human beings created in God s image and for his glory. It is the task of the teacher in the context of the classroom to ensure that this truth is the foundation for productive learning. Children are encouraged to explore their world for the joy of learning and to seek truth, with opportunities for success and achievement, rather than to perform in order to receive attention or love from the teacher.

7 Love that is conditional upon achievement is antithetical to the Christian understanding of personhood and the application of God s grace in Christ. Children need to hear a clear message that love is not given because of success, or withdrawn because of perceived failure. It is on this secure foundation of unconditional love, as modelled in Christ, that the teacher is to build a strong work ethic and desire in students to do their very best in gratitude and thankfulness to God. Acceptance of poor work, laziness, and lack of achievement should not be confused with unconditional love. Speaking the truth in love requires telling the student the truth about their performance based upon realistic yet challenging expectations of success. Every opportunity should be taken to give honest and truthful feedback on the student s progress and achievement and to acknowledge effort and service to the Lord and the body of Christ. As an expression of the principles in this document, we seek to avoid the use of tokens or extrinsic rewards such as stamps and stickers, nor do we conduct dux of school or prize giving ceremonies as a way of motivating students. Tyndale Christian School continues to seek to shape its policies and procedures according to Biblical principles. Particularly, our understanding from a Biblical perspective of the identity of children as created by God in His image and the nature of community under the grace and sovereignty of God have resulted in our Motivating Students Policy. The chief aim must be for the glory to be given to God at all time

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