I love working at NPC because it gives me the opportunity to live out my vocation as a Christ-follower. I teach because I follow Jesus, and I strongly believe that all learning is formational and meant to be given away in Spirit-led service. As a teacher in the Big Picture Learning program, I get to sew the threads of formation and service by teaching my students to design projects that mean something to them and to others. When students get a vision for that type of project, then their best learning can begin. That is what I love and why I teach here.
Faith & Life
Mr. Hofman is a Grand Rapids native who graduated with degrees from Calvin College and GVSU. He had a short-lived dream of moving to the west coast, and got as far as Sunnyside, WA for a year. Mr. Hofman loves teaching in the Big Picture Learning program, and gets especially excited when ideating about educational philosophy. In his spare time he is probably cooking and eating.
Statement of Faith
I’ve always been a big fan of sports. I played hockey all the way through high school. Whenever I put skates back on as an adult, I have an impulse to move fast and to cut deep grooves into the ice because I love to remember what it was like to have my entire weight off-balance, but held upward by the sharpened edge of a skate. There are forces in sports that formed me growing up. In sports, many students, who look dead in the classroom, come alive. It is also the place where students who get all A’s in the classroom can test their durability and willingness to take on hardship for the good of a team. It is learning “know-how.” It is using a map rather than drawing one. You learn through practice rather than by your brain only. Christ taught his disciples mainly by His practice. This is also exactly how I want to teach my students.
Dallas Willard, who writes about Christian discipleship, his readers whether they would include Jesus in our list of the “smartest” people in history. This made me uncomfortable. Certainly, Christ knew everything, but his ministry was not like Stephen Hawking’s brain brilliance. Christ’s ministry was more than mind. His was more whole, more holy. It makes me see that using school as a “smartening” tool, a place to make students’ brains grow big, is far less than what Christ would do, given a group of students. I could not write out the Christ’s lesson plans, learning goals, or the best-practice teaching methods. I could not think my way into that. Whatever Christ has taught me in life has been through lessons “on the field.” It has been through “know-how.” In the Gospels, Christ didn’t write the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Disciples. He dared his disciples to take your hand off the plow and follow me, and to get out and walk on water (paraphrases). He said directly, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Christ refused to teach just to the brain; his practice led straight to the disciples’ hearts.
I am a Big Picture Learning teacher because I want to teach beyond the head to the heart. I want students to leave my classroom having learned about God in a way learned how to skate, I want it in them. I don’t want them to just know the concepts, but to use their faith to “cut into the ice,” to know what it is like to live “out there,” sometimes a bit off balance, but held upward still by the sharpened edge of their faith. This needs to be something practiced, something owned, something taught at the heart level.
Here is how I plan to do this. As teachers at NorthPointe, we have three teaching mandates: the image, love, and mission mandates. In my classroom, my students will understand their image, their identity as being made in the image of God. I will point at God in them. Each week I will identify a student, and tell exactly how I saw God in her/him. By the end of their time in Big Picture Learning, my students will know that just by following Christ, He is in them and they are in Christ.
In my classroom, students will understand love, the full love of Christ. When they fall short of expectations, I will tell them that I love them. They will hear me say that they are worth every help I can give them Christ calls me to that. At the end of their time in Big Picture, they will love others because they have been loved, and this love will be a heart-level love, one that they know because it has been rehearsed, tested, and bought with the price of sacrificial love. Lastly, in my classroom they will understand mission, the “know-how” of image and love. When they work on a project, I will draw out their strengths and the interests that light a fire in them. I will direct them towards mentorships and internships that stoke this fire. I will pray for the Holy Spirit to call out their purpose so I can see them come to school every day knowing why they do what they do. The image and love of God will be in them in such a way that, whenever they recall their time in Big Picture Learning at NorthPointe Christian, it will send them into mission, like a pair of hockey skates sends me cutting across an ice rink. This will be done because it is what Christ calls us to do as educators, followers of Jesus who have the “know-how” of the Kingdom of God.