Shortly after our third Christian Deeper Learning conference in Denver last February, we planners met to reflect on the conference. We realized that it was probably the last chance we’d have to meet in person for some time due to the encroaching coronavirus. At that meeting, we held on to our hope of hosting CDL4 in Ft. Lauderdale in February 2021 (please, Lord!) . . . a hope we held for about a month. Then it became clear that the wiser course would be to plan a virtual gathering. So now, I am excited to draw your attention to CDL4!
CDL4 will be a two-part experience. The first is a Professional Deeper Learning Keynote/PD package for you or your school to download and self-facilitate sometime before part 2, a virtual gathering on February 19. One advantage to not meeting at a central location is that an entire staff can experience the deeper learning package right from their school at a time convenient for them. Real and lasting progress in deeper learning for all students is more likely to happen when whole schools are involved, rather than just a few enthusiasts.
When we began planning this conference in March, the United States was in turmoil, fractured by political polemics and challenged by blatant racial oppression. We asked ourselves, “What does the world need now, and how can the people of God’s Story respond?”
That frame led to the questions guiding our program design for CDL4. How can we build community and bring respect to the seemingly irreconcilable conflicts between dialectic political and social narratives? How can we recognize and address our own unconscious biases and positively engage the ethnic and racial diversity in our schools and our society?
We found outstanding leaders who could engage and challenge us to reflect on these questions and guide our responses. We are offering three, four-hour Keynote/PD Packages, designed to be school facilitated (or self-guided) at your chosen time. We will prepare facilitators from your staff to lead the discussion at your school.
Keynote/PD Package 1: Building Community Through Crew with Ron Berger
At our CDL conference in Frisco, TX two years ago, some of you heard Ron Berger’s keynote on character formation. Ron is responsible for leading EL Education’s vision of teaching and learning. He has prepared a four-hour workshop on Building Community Through Crew. In EL schools, Crew is both a culture and a structure.
I am excited about this offering because one of the essential components of implementing deeper learning is to provide structures into which our deep hopes and intentions can incarnate into the body of our practices. The structures of Crew in a Christian school ensure that everyone feels welcome, valued, supported, and held accountable to God’s purpose to be conformed to the image of His Son. Ron will guide you in this pre-recorded event from the philosophy of Crew to implementing it in your school. Learn more at the CDL4 website.
Keynote/PD Package 2: Love One An “Other” with Dr. Vernita Mayfield
As Christian educators, it is our role to model the teachings of Christ in our professional practice. But how do we operationalize that call when our cultural values and beliefs are different from others? Can we do that while ignoring the crippling legacies of racial inequities in our society? Is it possible to do this while serving as a passive witness to the dehumanization of groups of people? What does role modeling mean when the racial and ethnic diversity of our school begins to shift? Can we even do this if we fail to confront our own unconscious biases or pretend that we are immune?
This Keynote/PD package challenges us to reimagine Christ’s instruction to “love one another” within the context of cultural competence in schools. We are thrilled to introduce Dr. Vernita Mayfield, ASCD author and consultant, to the Christian Deeper Learning network. Vernita will lead us in charting concrete steps toward building and sustaining a more civil, equitable, inclusive, and just learning environment where each student and staff member feels loved, accepted, welcomed, and respected for their authentic selves.
Keynote/PD Package 3: Assessment and Feedback by Jon Eckert
Our third Keynote/PD Package was inspired by feedback we received from last year’s conference. The most requested topic participants wanted to learn more about was assessment. How do you assess deeper learning? How do we know if our work is making a difference? How can we use assessment to help our students grow, rather than reward or punish them for their performance?
We immediately thought of Jon Eckert, education professor at Baylor University. This Keynote/PD Package will focus on practical tools and structures to effectively evaluate the impact of our Christ-centered instruction on student learning. Learn more about learning targets as the foundation of student-led assessment, rubrics to establish criteria for success, and feedback to support deeper learning.
Virtual Gathering: February 19, 2021
CDL4 will culminate in a virtual gathering on February 19, 2021. All participants will come together to worship, share our good work, learn from one another, and experience what has been a highlight at our last two conferences: a student presentation of learning. The experts behind the Keynote/PD packages will join us for the Virtual Gathering to deliver support to attendees of their sessions and answer questions from the audience. There will also be time to share work your school has done with the packages and collaborate with other schools. Though many of the participants at this virtual gathering will be from schools that have experienced one of the Keynote/PD Packages, others interested in Christian Deeper Learning or desiring to connect with other teachers are welcome to attend.
By purchasing any of the PD Packages, you will receive free tickets to the Virtual Gathering on February 19. You can purchase all three packages for one affordable price, experiencing one or all of the workshops with your staff during your own professional development time. Click here for pricing and registration details.
Even in this year of physical distancing, we can come together in pursuit of Christian Deeper Learning. If there was ever a time for us to learn from each other, the time is now.
After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, Steven Levy (firstname.lastname@example.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.