What the World Needs Now: A CDL4 Retrospective

Dan BeerensDeeper Learning, The CACE RoundtableLeave a Comment

As we reflect on the 4th annual Deeper Learning gathering of Christian/faith-based schools, we are grateful for the “real work for real people” being done all around the world. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are around 32,000 faith-based schools just in the United States, educating more than 3 million students. We rejoice in being part of a large family of educators dedicated to following Jesus and raising students who will serve Jesus Christ and impact the world with the light of the gospel.

There are, of course, a wonderful diversity of approaches employed to achieve that end. We have been particularly inspired by schools that have engaged in Holy Spirit-guided self-reflection, examining every dimension of school life to identify gaps between their stated mission and their actual day to day habits, followed by a relentless commitment to filling them with Spirit-inspired practices. These are the introspective schools we hope are attracted to the Christian Deeper Learning network. We learn from one another as we come together to worship, to connect, to create, to engage. and to grow. (Learn more about Christian Deeper Learning).

We just concluded CDL4, our fourth gathering of schools interested in Deeper Learning. Our goals for CDL 4 were to:

  • Connect as a community of Christian educators exploring and implementing Deeper Learning in our schools and classrooms;
  • Offer opportunities for continued professional development for school communities;
  • Facilitate this experience for whole-school learning communities, rather than a few representatives from each school
  • Make this available to schools after the conference to use AND offer post-conference PD that works with the 3 tracks.

We chose three themes to explore together: structures to build Christian community, practices to support hard conversations about loving one another across our various biases, and the deeper role of assessment in student learning. Although we couldn’t gather “the family” in person this year, we still offered three professional development packages for schools to explore at their convenience on each of the themes. Then on February 19th we invited everyone to gather via Airmeet, an interactive platform that allows for mingling and movement in and between sessions. One of the biggest joys for us this year as organizers was that we were able to extend this opportunity around the world at very reduced cost. Consequently, we had representatives from nine different countries, and many of our participants were first-time attendees!

CDL 4 by the numbers:

10,884 Number of clicks on the CDL website
21        Whole schools engaged in the PD packages
428      Registered for the virtual gathering
9          Countries represented
865      People on our mailing list (Consider adding your name to the CDL mailing list!)

According to feedback from participants, the most impactful part of the day was a presentation from the students of Doulos Discovery School in Jarabacoa, DR. We were all inspired by how deeply the students, through their reflections and expedition projects, manifest the heart of deeper learning: real work for real people that forms the self and shapes the world.

Another highlight was being led in worship by the Momentum Choir, a highly disciplined, professionally facilitated performance choir comprised of adults who live with a disability. As soon as they opened the conference with a rousing rendition of our conference theme, What the World Needs Now, our hearts were filled with gratitude and worship.

What’s next?

  • We have two half-day professional development packages that are still available through 2021: Assessment and Feedback (by Dr. Jon Eckert) and Love One An “Other” (by Dr. Vernita Mayfield).
  • Check out the new Christian Deeper Learning podcast, Learning to Serve, hosted and produced by CDL co-chair Krista Adams Wallace.
  • We will be diving deep into six Deeper Learning models this spring.  Stay tuned to the podcast and the newsletter!

Next year Christian Deeper Learning is teaming up with Converge 2022  in San Diego the first week of March 2022. (Converge is the new name for what was the Global Christian School Leadership Conference held in San Antonio, Texas in 2019.) Converge will bring together the 12 leading Christian school organizations in the world.

CDL5 will be held on March 7 and 8 (Monday and Tuesday) right before Converge on March 8-10. These events will be a great opportunity for you as an educational leader to explore with us some remarkable Deeper Learning schools in the San Diego area (such as High Tech High) and to learn how Christian schools are making the change to Deeper Learning! Watch this space for more details or join our mailing list.

Thanks to all of you who were able to be with us at CDL4, and we look forward to seeing you (in person!) in San Diego!

Steven Levy, in collaboration with fellow CDL co-chairs Dan Beerens and Krista Adams Wallace


  • Dan Beerens

    Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).

  • Steven Levy

    After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, Steven Levy (steven.levy@cace.org) is now an educational consultant, working independently and with EL Education. He guides teachers in designing service-based curriculum, engaging instructional practices, student owned assessments, and character development. He was recognized as the Massachusetts State Teacher of the Year (1993), and honored by the Disney American Teacher Awards as the national Outstanding General Elementary Teacher (1995). Mr. Levy was the recipient of the Joe Oakey Award for his national impact on project-based learning, and received the John F. Kennedy Prize for the teaching of history. Mr. Levy and his fourth grade students were designated “Conservation Heroes” by the National Park Service for their study of the effects of a local bike path on the environment and the community. Mr. Levy has written various articles for educational journals, and his book, Starting From Scratch (Heinemann, 1996), details some of the projects and students he has worked with in his elementary classrooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.