The alarm went off at 5:30 am. A quick shower, and a rush to catch the 6:45 am bus located just outside the door. The bus was on time, and arrived at the George Washington Bridge Bus terminal around 7:10. A quick dash for the subway made it possible to catch the 7: 25 A train. The ride to 59th street was pleasant and usual. Walking down to 62nd street and Columbus Circle, an air of excitement was all around. This was the Lincoln Center area, and it was the center of life and culture in New York City. One block for the school, was a Roman Catholic Church, the Red doors were opened as usual welcoming all to come. The church was filled with working people, stopping off to be a spiritual blessing before entering the world of obligation. The service lasted thirty minutes, but in that half hour, transformations were taking place in the lives of many who attended. Leaving the church at 7:55 am provided just enough time to make the three-minute walk to the school building located on West End Avenue. The morning prayers and the communion had provided the exact spiritual support needed to be an effective teacher to excited fifth graders. Saying the same prayer each morning set the tone for the day, ”Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you oh God, my source and my strength.” It was that daily experience at a nearby church in a different denomination, which serve as the motivation for this project. The idea of having a spiritual place where teachers could come before work is the passion, which encourages this project. .

Churches stand empty and society stands in need, how can each serve the needs of the other. The Church needs people and people need the church. Education in New York City is a major concern in this society. Job security for our teachers is a major concern in the lives of people who serve our children and our needs. As a public school teacher wanting to do more to help my students, I reached out to my Church for help. It was my church, which provided the spirituality variable resulting in high performance in students and greater job satisfaction in fellow teaching agreeing to participate in the project. Churches are encouraged to use this program as part of out reach responsibility to the community. Perhaps outreach programs can have inreach relationships and both the community and the church could benefit from the association.

The program could invite religious clergy from other faiths to participate in the children’s morning Blessings. Children and families attending the Family ministry could be informed of the morning blessings for children. Young people, living in the neighborhood could also be informed of the blessings for school. Children could be encouraged to come for a Blessing when they are planning to take a test. It is hoped if a church starts a morning Blessing for children and teachers, that other churches may also consider opening their doors to bless the children. Sometimes children do not think God cares about them; this is a way of inviting the children to come to the house of God, and be blessed before going to school. My Church is protestant, and these ideas came from my attendance at a Catholic Church on my way to work. Perhaps the Catholic Church has it right, and the protestant church should open its doors to morning and daily prayers and services for families. As a teacher and a Methodist, the Catholic Mass helped me to become a more effective teacher in the performance of my duties. I could not teach religion in school, but each morning I was reminded that my religion and spirituality was within me, I was the symbol of God in the classroom without teaching religion.

Spiritual Formation Program Designed for the Riverside Church In New York City

 

Although the workshops are held for five weeks, the church should develop a weekly morning blessing session for parents, children and teachers. This could be held in the chapel or the Nave. It would involve parents bring their children to church before taking them to public school or nursery school. Children will be prayed over by interfaith clergy,[1] and told that they are blessed. They will be told that as results of the blessings that they will do well in school, and that God is always looking out for them and protecting them. Children could be encouraged to ask their parents to bring them for their blessings before test. Some parents may want to purchase crosses for their children from the bookstore, and have them blessed by a minister.

 

The program will monitor the effect the spiritual formation sessions will be having on the teachers. This could be achieved through pre and post interview sessions. Teachers could be asked to describe how they felt before attending the spiritual formation sessions, and how they felt throughout the process. Here the writer would be testing the hypothesis that teachers, who engage in spiritual formation sessions, should have a significantly easier day, and more rewarding career as a teacher. Teachers will be encouraged to understand that they will receive guidance and directions in classroom management, instructional preparation, instructional delivery, and understanding the professional environment. The difference in this program, and courses received in college, will be the spiritual focus of the individuals who are elected to assist the teacher is areas of spiritual growth.

 

It should also be possible to monitor the effect that the spiritual formation sessions will have on the children who agree to participate. These would be children who are brought to the church before school for a blessing. The writer is testing the hypothesis that children who believe they have been blessed, and who are told they are a child of God, will do well in school. Parents could be asked to share the academic progress of the child as recorded on report cards.

 

This schedule could be as follows:

 

  • 6:30 am –7: am   Spiritual Formation
  • 7:00 am –7:30am   Spiritual Formation

 

Quiet reflections or prayer – 5 minutes

Scripture reading               – five minutes

Song Selection                   – 5 minutes

Reflections by minister     – 5 minutes

Blessings, this could be either a communion or a lying on of hands

 

This would permit five minutes for first group to leave the area, and permit the entrance of another group. If necessary, one group could be held in the Nave, and another group could be held in Christ Chapel.

 

It would be a meaningful experience, if the community, which is surrounded by many schools, learns that the Church offered a morning service. There are many ministers in the church who would respond to this program, which would result in using the gifts and talents of those who are called to minister to others. This should be a combined effort of the Education ministry, the Youth Ministry and the Family ministry. It would also meet the needs of families living in the area as a visible indication of a church meeting the spiritual needs of the community throughout the week.

 

This program could start out on one day per week, and grow as the response indicates. The education department of the church could provide written suggestions for teachers to help them in their assignments. Teachers could become aware of the educational resources of the church, which could help them to better understand the student population, and the community, where they work

 

The solution to some of the concerns about our educational system does not suggest that large sums of money must be thrown at the problem in order to attempt to solve the problem; it suggests that the solution is spiritual, and the established institutions already have within their power, the solutions for success. Who and what we are intended to be as a nation is the solution to the problem. We are one nation under God. Under God, the solution can be realized. We are a nation separate and apart from any organized religion, and that is as it should be. We follow in the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who believed that America is an on going dream striving for perfection within the dream. We dream of our better selves, and in our waking hours, we work towards the reality of those dreams. We are better than our past, and greater than our present. We have the ability to create the unknown future, from the dreams within us.

 

If you are a teacher, moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, dedicated to the excellence of your craft, then you will demand the best preparation to meet any task calling for the transformation of individuals through information.

 

If you have a strong sense of self, and a calling and a dedication to work with others to make positive contributions to the human family, come on in, the water is fine. Such an individual will acquire the best skills and the necessary qualification to deliver the best of themselves to others.

 

The second part of the program would be hands on effective teaching workshop. Experienced spiritual educators will work with teachers and help them to do the following:

 

  • Ÿ Eliminate negative views about different ethnic groups, gender or sexual orientation
  • Ÿ Help teachers to use their own spiritual faith as a tool in effective teaching
  • Ÿ Help teachers see themselves made in the image of God
  • Ÿ Help teachers to see all children made in the image and likeness of God
  • Ÿ Improve relationship with parents and community
  • Ÿ Improve relationship with supervisors and school personnel
  • Ÿ Reduce stress factors, which could result in severe health issues
  • Ÿ Reduce the “burn out” rate in teachers
  • Ÿ Give teachers the strength and the skills to stay the course in their chosen teaching careers. Many teachers leave the profession in the first two years. Some leave in frustration and disappointment over failing to do the job.

 

 

Teachers who leave the profession in the first two years, are not failing the job, they have reached a reality point where they realize that what they were taught in college has little relevance to the skills they need to be an effective teacher in the classroom. The teacher training institutions did not teach to the test, and the test was, how to survive and deliver in a real classroom situation. This spiritual transformation workshop for teachers will teach to the test.

 

Teaching children is a spiritual act. Something spiritual happens between the teacher and the student, which permit’s a process to take place. If the teacher has faith in his or her ability as someone who has prepared to be an instrument of God’s hand and through some power working within, conveys that message to the student, then the student opens up, accepts, and receives information. If the teacher lacks confidence in his or her own ability, they can only see themselves in the children, and they will, as a result, lack confidence in the ability of the student. Teaching and learning is a give and take process, the spirit opens up an information transformation process, and the teacher and the students become one. Without this spirit formation, teaching does not occur, and learning does not take place. Teachers must believe that students can learn, and students must believe that they are in a safe place where learning can take place. The teacher is the Holy Spirit, or whatever process is believes in different faiths, and the individual is the vehicle through which this process operates. God is the teacher, and the teacher is the instrument through which work is done. Children understand this, they will respond to the God within a person or teacher, and reject or act out when that source is not perceived as operating in an environment. Teachers will learn how to center themselves and their environments so that effective learning can take place.

 

 

Learning is a formation process given to man at the time of the original creation. The ability to learn from the environment and become a co creator with God is the gift given to man in order that he may understand and glorify God and his creations. Learning is therefore a spiritual formation, which takes place inside of a person. It is the process of surrendering to information and permitting it to become part of ones on going creation. The mind and the body can and will block in coming information for many reasons. If in the perception of the learner, the individual providing learning opportunities misjudges or disrespects the learning abilities of the person, then a block will occur. If the individual providing information expects the individual in the environment to fail in the receiving of the information, this will produce a validation of the belief process. Teachers, who expect failure in children, will get failures in children. Teachers who expect learning successes in children will find demonstrations of the learning success in the children.

 

This would suggest that teacher attitudes could interfere with reception of learning and delivery of outcomes in some children. The teacher can block the spiritual formation of the child if the spiritual formation of the teacher has been impaired through faulty information or through belief systems that do not accept the child as made in the image and likeness of God, and that the image and likeness of the child was perhaps made by another set of creation processes. If the teacher has been taught and accepted into belief systems that ethnicity is the god of creation of the child, or that family socio-economic conditions are the god of creation for the child, then the teacher separates from the child, and sees the child as a separate being made in the image and likeness of many negative gods.

 

The teacher, through help and prayer must bring the child back into the family of the one living God, and accept the child as one with the same creative and learning abilities of all of God’s creations.

 

The process through which this transformation takes place is the spiritual formation of the teacher. As this process takes place learning will also take place in the environment shared by teacher and student.

Saturday Workshops in Spiritual Formation for Teachers.

 

 

This will consist of five workshops related to helping teachers to use the Holy Spirit in effective teaching.

 

 

Session One                 Management of Time

 

 

Session Two                 Management of the Classroom

 

 

Session Three               Management of Student

                                    Behaviors

 

Session Four               Instructional Preparation

 

 

Session Five                 Instructional Presentation

 

 

The learning objectives of these workshops will:

 

 

 

  • Help teachers identify the power of God, the Holy Spirit, and different faith systems, in preparing themselves to enter the classroom each day. Each day and activity will be controlled through the power of faith, working in the environment.
  • Help teachers develop an organizational system relating to every activity taking place in and outside of classroom
  • Help teacher identify at least three possible ways to handle inappropriate student behavior in the classroom.
  • Help teachers to identify the spiritual causes for student behavior.
  • Help teachers to develop lesson plans
  • Help teachers to project expectations of success from student
  • Help teacher to teach for success and encourage students to allow the spirit to work through them for academic success
  • Help teachers to be a person of faith without teaching religion in the public schools.
  • Help teachers to use interfaith strength and resources as an effective teaching tool.

 

 

 

 

 

Process

 

 

Teachers will be invited to share their own view of themselves and what spiritual strengths they use to handle challenging situations. Teachers will share with each other the challenges they feel as they take on the responsibility of working with children from diverse cultural backgrounds. The will discuss what help they see they may need, and how can this group help them to feel more secure in their assignments.

 

Teachers will discuss how they can integrate God as a partner in the classroom without breaking state law.

 

Support Spiritual Helpers

 

School Principal

College Professor

Guidance Counselor

Computer Engineer

Interfaith Clergy

Sponsoring institution Clergy Director/ Education Department

 

Teachers will discuss how to use the underlined message of all religious faiths as a guide in lesson planning and delivery. All faiths teach that we should love one another, help the needy, and treat other people the way we want to be treated.

 

Teachers will design strategies for their classroom, which will make student feel safe in the environment. Teachers will discuss methods of helping students to feel responsible for each other and guardians of the feelings of others.

 

Teachers will discuss how to prepare lessons that open up the learning process in children. Lessons that are designed to teach students what are necessary to be successful in the environment. Teachers will learn how to bring students into the preparation and presentation process. Teacher will learn how to create a fail proof classroom.

 

Teachers will learn how to use the church as an outside tool for effective teaching and parental support. Teachers will learn the use of legal requirements for working with children outside of the school. How to secure parental permissions and support for out of school activities.

 

 

 

 

 

Payoff

 

The Church will play an active role in helping the teacher, the child and the parent, to improve the delivery of quality education to the community surrounding the church. The church could encourage other institutions to participate in this community base approach to partnering with educational institutions in the delivery of quality educational service to our children. This project is in the national interest of the country. The academic ability of our children significantly influences the future directions of the nation.

 

It is anticipated that the following will occur:

 

  • Teachers will receive the assistance needed in all teaching environments.
  • The community will see that the church is aware of its responsibility to the community to be part of the learning process of the children.
  • The church will become a major education center in this area of academic excellence, and will see itself as a partner in the field of teacher education.
  • The church will identify itself as a source of religious education program that are useful to teachers in the community.
  • School children in the community will see the church as a valuable religious source in their spiritual formation.

 

 

Although the workshops are held for five weeks, the church should develop a weekly morning blessing session for parents, children and teachers. This could be held in the chapel or the Nave. It would involve parents bring their children to church before taking them to public school or nursery school. Children will be prayed over by a minister and told that they are blessed. They will be told that as results of the blessings that they will do well in school, and that God is always looking out for them and protecting them. Children could be encouraged to ask their parents to bring them for their blessings before test. Some parents may want to purchase crosses for their children from the bookstore, and have them blessed by a minister.

How would it be done?

 

Announcements could be made during Sunday service. The other ministers of the church could assist in the blessings of the children and families in the morning. The community will know that Morning Prayer is available before work at the Church. The community will respond.

Cost Factor

 

There should be no additional cost factor to the church. It may be necessary to notify the police department with respect to double parking for the one hour that the Morning Prayer is in effect. This would be 6:30 to 7:30 am, with each session lasting a half hour. This may not be a factor, since the program seeks to reach the neighboring community, and the population intended to be reach students and teachers, would already have made arrangements to be in the area, or live in the area. This is also a missionary project, so the different ministries in the church could consider it a method where people are brought into the house of God to have their needs addressed.

 

Who would be responsible?

 

The program would come under the education department, and would be under the supervision and directions of the pastor.

 

The Spiritual Formation Teacher Training Workshops would operate on five Saturday mornings, in a cycle, in a space determined and made available through the church. This program would engage professionals to volunteer their services to work with teachers. There would be no cost to the teachers, and the program would be considered an outreach program of the education ministry to the community. This program will be popular, and funds for this program will come into the church. The church will be giving to the community and the nation.

 

How will interfaith clergy be notified?

 

Announcements will be sent out to the interfaith clergy within the community. Special attention would be paid to the interfaith clergy within the church. Jewish Theology Seminary, Union Theology Seminary, The Ethiopian Coptic Church, Muslim etc.

 

 

When would the program start?

 

The children-blessing program could start right away. This only requires an announcement in the church, the church school, the youth ministry, and the family ministry.   The Morning Prayer for the teachers and community could also start right away. The Spiritual Formation Teacher Training Workshops would be held twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. April is a good time to hold one because teachers are preparing for test. The next one could be held in October, just after the beginning of the school year.

 

 

[1] This should have an ecumenical approach. Religious clergy should be invited to share the process. This would include members of the Abrahamic faiths, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, as well as Buddhist, Hindu and other established faith traditions. Many faiths have their own methods of spiritual formation. The Riverside Church as an institution representing the Interreligious, Interracial and Interdenominational faith center is well experienced in respecting and welcoming different paths of faith.

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