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Integrating Classroom Devotionals and Lesson Content

While teaching pre-service teachers, I have always begun my classes with a devotional thought and prayer. These were meaningful and to the point, allowing me to share Jesus with my students before we would continue with the program for the class. Although this was good, I just felt like there was a greater opportunity during these five minutes or so to really reach out to my students and make them critically think about the devotion throughout the class time and beyond. I really wanted to integrate faith and learning more while still achieving the learning outcomes for the class.

Cheerful carefree young multiethnic students in casual clothing sitting together in lecture room and discussing project while brainstorming at breakChanging my devotional approach was necessary and so I embarked on a new way of thinking and planning. To teach my students how to be good teachers, I needed to model this to them by implementing best practice. So, utilising an adapted version of the curriculum cycle: I do (teacher models), we do (teacher and students together) and you do (students do independently), I began a new devotional approach. First I plan my classes, then I search through the Bible and other Christian material for aspects of the class topic, allowing me to present the devotion to introduce/cover/include one aspect of the class topic at the beginning of the lesson. Throughout the class I continually refer back to the devotion and demonstrate to my students how it linked into the lesson topic. This approach has changed a number of things for my classes:

  1. The devotion is relevant and applicable to the lesson content.
  2. My students arrive to class on time, not 5 minutes late. The devotion is part of the lesson topic and they don’t want to miss out on the information.
  3. Because the devotion is imbedded throughout the class and is repeated, my students experience and discuss the connection and integration of faith and learning and see and learn how to embed it into classes – a skill they will need when they begin their own teaching.
  4. My students leave class with the devotional thought and class topic integrated. The students tell me they continue to discuss the devotion outside of class. One student shared that she shares the devotion with her family in the evening. Another group of students meets later in the day to discuss the class and this discussion usually results in a Bible study because of the devotion. Interestingly, a few non-Christians have been part of these out of class groups and they are now actively asking questions and engaging in the devotional discussions.

Implementing this change has required intentional planning and critical thinking on my part; however, the outcome is yielding transformative learning as well as successfully integrating faith and learning through a short devotional link to the current learning.

Sherry Hattingh

Dr Sherene Hattingh, EdD, Primary Course Convenor at Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia. She has worked in the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education sectors as a teacher, administrator and researcher. Her publications in peer reviewed and church journals cover the areas of internationalisation, ESL students and pedagogy and Christian discipleship.
Sherry Hattingh

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2 comments

  • | 5 months ago

    I believe beginning a class with a connected to lesson devotional thought is super. I have also experimented it and the outcome is very good. The lives of students can be transformed not from the academic lessons; but from the devotional thoughts attached to the lessons.

    • | 4 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Theresa. Happy to know you had an excellent experience with devotionals!

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