Tag: administration (page 1 of 2)

Teaching Easter in Classrooms

Easter is the culmination of the most important week in the Christian calendar, and marks the grand, triumphant culmination of the season of Lent.

 

Although Easter is commonly associated with bunnies and eggs, chicks and flowers, the true meaning of Easter centers on the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. When teaching Easter in the classroom, it is a good idea to strike a clean balance between these two contrasting themes.

 

The colorful pastels and baby animals of Easter are playful and friendly for young students, but teachers should not neglect to tell the story of Jesus and his amazing gift to humanity.

 

In the days leading up to Easter, it is common to read from the Bible the appropriate events pertaining to Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his subsequent betrayal, and his crucifixion on the Cross.

 

Reading directly from the Bible is appropriate for older students, but younger ones may have a difficult time responding to the formal language of the Scriptures. Find a careful translation of the relevant Bible accounts in a language easy for young students to understand.

 

Another thing you can do is engage your students in a discussion. Ask them questions about what Jesus death and resurrection mean to them. In the days leading up to Easter (possibly on the Friday before), arrange a slideshow of the Stations of the Cross and ask them to explain what is happening, if they can.

 

Of course, Easter should be a fun and exciting day as well. Perhaps you could stage an Easter egg hunt in the classroom, or simply bring in some candy to share. If you have kids, especially younger ones, you could print off a collection of images and allow them to pick their favorite ones to color.

 

Many of these examples primarily pertain to younger students. What can you do to engage high schoolers in a holiday that is often geared towards children? Encourage your students to write. Perhaps they could write about what Jesus’ sacrifice means to them personally. Another idea would be to have them reflect on how they have changed and grown from children to young adults. Perhaps incorporate some reflective music and some meditation.

 

These are just a few ideas. The links below will refer you to all the resources cited above and a few more.

 

Resources:

How To Become A Catholic School Teacher

Have you wanted to become a Catholic school teacher, but you are not quite sure where to start to reach your career goal? Perhaps you were raised with a Catholic education or you are drawn to the faith and want to share it while teaching youth.

Whether you are a new teacher or you have been teaching for years with many teacher resources and ideas under your belt, you may be interested to know how teaching in a private Catholic school may differ from a public school.

 

What Do I Need to Teach In a Catholic School?
The good news about teaching in a Catholic school is that you don’t have to worry about having a state certificate to be a teacher, although it definitely doesn’t hurt if you do. You may be someone with other types of certification, making it more accessible for many individuals who may be looking for a job right away.

What you will need when teaching in a catholic school is a degree in the subject you wish to teach. If you want to teach theology or history, for example, a bachelor degree in these areas can get you through the door.

Finding a job in a Catholic school may also depend on the demand in your area. If it is a predominantly Catholic area, you may find a few options to choose from with schools hiring. If not, many positions may already be filled.

A commitment to holistic teaching is also required in this type of teaching job. While you may not be expected to portray an extremely religious attitude, the values of the faith and the example of the morals that are defined in the Catholic faith should be evident in your speech and actions and in your teacher resources.

 

Why Should You Work in a Catholic School?
While the pay may not be as attractive as public school salaries, you will be able to have more control in your classroom and will typically have a smaller class ratio than you would in a public school. The teaching and work environment is most likely an inclusive one where you will feel a part of a team and not just “on your own” trying to make a difference. If you studied religion or theology, you most likely want to teach in a school where these subjects are taught and highly required.

If you are of the Catholic faith and want to help the Catholic education system, you may find it to be an inspiring place to teach where you can share your beliefs and help your students learn while you are at it.

 

New Classical Catholic Academy Opens In Colorado

Classical education is an approach to education with origins in the classical world of Rome and Greece. Students who study classical education learn with an emphasis on seeking after truth and goodness through study of the liberal arts. The liberal arts include logic, rhetoric, grammar, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. It’s a unique way of learning and it appeals to a number of parents, especially millennial parents. In an effort to broaden children’s horizons and reach out to millennials parents, a new Catholic elementary school that uses this method will be coming to Northern Colorado.

 

This new school, called Frassati Catholic Academy, will be opening in Thornton, an area that has recently seen an increase in its Catholic population. Kevin Kijewski, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, has stated that the choice to make the school a classical education school was because of the desires of the nearby millennial parents whose children will be entering elementary school.

 

Frassati Catholic Academy is not only unique in its teaching methods. It is also the first regional Catholic academy to be opened by the Archdiocese of Denver. This means that the school will not be associated with one single parish. Instead, it will serve a wide variety of families in numerous parishes throughout the Northern Colorado region.

 

The school will offer programs for children in junior kindergarten through fifth grade. When the school begins operation in 2017, they expect the number of children enrolled to be anywhere from 120 to 240 students. For each subsequent year after 2017, the school will add one additional grade up to grade 8.

 

According to a letter from the Archbishop, the school’s teaching will be rooted in past civilizations such as Greece and Rome. Art, music and Latin will be key parts of the curriculum. He also stated that the classical philosophy of teaching will better prepare students for the rapidly changing world in which we live today. The school’s website states that now more than ever, the modern world requires the thinking skills that are taught through the classical education approach. This style will allow children to be ethical problem solvers, literate evaluators, critical thinkers, and socially responsible citizens of the world.

 

The school is named after Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, an Italian man who loved adventure, the outdoors, and social activism, and died at age of 25. He was beatified 77 years after his death by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002. The passions he possessed throughout his life make him an excellent patron for a Catholic school in the Colorado area.

 

It will be exciting to see children attend Frassati Catholic Academy and gain a unique education that they can utilize as they move forward in the modern world.

 

Pinterest for Catholic Teachers

Not too long ago I did a summary of some resources found around the web for Catholic educators. One of the resources linked to was Pinterest, but I felt as though the brief summary didn’t get it’s due for how useful Pinterest can be to teachers and faculty in classrooms of all ages.

 

What is Pinterest? Think of your home corkboard, a place where you pin up recipes found in magazines, pictures, to-do lists, and inspiration. Pinterest is a digital, collaborative version of that board. It is an incredible wealth of creative and inspiring projects, insights, and wisdom. Pinterest consists of visual bookmarks, called “pins”, as links to websites, blogs, and articles, attached with a picture. You can sort “pins” into “boards” that you create and label. You can have boards for different grades, different holidays, different lesson plans, and more. Visual, easy, and intuitive to use, it is an excellent resource that you are sure to pick up quickly.

 

Technology in the classroom is a constant discussion in all schools, and Pinterest is a great example of ways to utilize it. This blog from Kelly Kraus on the National Catholic Educators Association webpage even talks of creating an account on Pinterest that the entire class has access to, in order for students to share ideas and resources for projects together in one place.

 

With the success of C3 (Catholic Communication Collaboration – a conference for Catholic teachers, parish staff, and educators about technology and it’s uses in a Catholic education) growing every year in attendance and in offerings, this conversation is becoming ever more relevant.

 

Pinterest has become an important venue for professional development for thousands of teachers. Teaching tips, lesson plans, craft projects, source material research, and even classroom decoration can be found on Pinterest. There are tips for teaching math to dyslexic or visual learners, to middle school science lessons, to ways to teach math concepts through dance moves.

 

When professional development training varies drastically based on school, and may be too rigorous on classical teaching while leaving creative ideas behind, or focus too much on inclusivity of the children’s learning styles while not focusing on concrete lesson plans, Pinterest is a great “There when you need it” well to draw from for just about any kind of teaching issue. It is by no means a replacement for lack of teacher education and development, but as an educator, Pinterest might just be the most inspiration available in one place.
Back to Kelly Kraus, who says: “Another thing I love about Pinterest is the material provided when searching for specific lesson ideas. A quick search for a lesson subject, such as “Good Samaritan,” showcases lessons for Catholic classrooms, as well as lessons from other faith traditions. These activities and lesson plans can serve as guides for catechists to create lessons that are specific to their classrooms and their lesson plan objectives.”

LEADERSHIP and VISION CRITICAL TO SCHOOL SUCCESS

Proverbs 29:18 clearly states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  All memorable achievements are brought about by leaders with a vision.

Each year as Catholic school leaders prepare for the new year, the successful ones recognizes that flying is not enough.  These leaders know that it is God’s work they do and to just fly is not enough, as they need to soar. To soar requires school leaders to establish and articulate an inspirational vision for their school. God uses visions to excite school leaders because excited leaders motivate teachers and staff to exceed their comfort zones. I’ve seen it with my own eyes – with vision, teachers feel empowered and vibrant. And when teachers are empowered and vibrant, student achievement increases exponentially.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with newly hired  teachers in the Archdiocese of New York – many of them are first time teachers. I spoke to them about the Trinitarian aspects of a Catholic School and how successful Catholic schools are about relationships – relationships – relationships.  By the time the day was done, some the cohort of new teachers adopted a mantra of “Not Under my Watch.” Imagine nearly several dozen new Catholic school teachers being asked:

  • Will it be said that in your classroom children were denied an opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ?

 

  • Will it be said that the test scores of your children declined during the 2016-2017 school year?

 

  • Will students in your classroom withdraw from school because parents are dissatisfied with your willingness to partner with them on behalf of their child’s education?

 

And all responding with an unequivocal – “Not Under My Watch.”

 

Teaching is a noble profession! Nobility includes in its meaning the very notion of beautiful. Therefore, noble work is beautiful work. But what is beautiful can be sullied. While working at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program I was often presented with opportunities to speak with new Catholic school teachers. Below are some of the thoughts I would share with them in an attempt to help each new teacher maintain the beauty and luster of his/her own vocation as a Catholic school teacher. I provide you with them today so that Catholic school leaders everywhere can use as appropriate in sharing with new teachers.  Some of the thoughts might be good for veteran teachers to hear again as well.

 

14 TIPS FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

  1. Put your own oxygen mask on first and stay close to the Lord. Throughout your career, you will experience crises of confidence, exasperation, frustration, unreasonable parents, troubled students, bad classes, poor liturgies. You will be misquoted, misrepresented and for some periods of time, mistrusted. But you will also get the unparalleled gift to see the world with wonder again, through the eyes of young people. You will be made a confidante by a young person seeking advice, feel the joy of a weak student who does well on an assignment, cheer for your students in athletic contests, beam with a near parents’ pride as your students graduate. To keep yourself rooted, to keep your ideas fresh, to be the kind of faithful person our young people need to see firsthand, stay close to the Lord, both in your daily prayer and in the reception of the sacraments. If you do, the Lord will bless you in your work and you will go to bed each night exhausted, but with a smile on your face.

 

  1. Be yourself.  If you’re young, you’ve probably never been called Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith, and that will take some getting used to.  But you can be yourself within this role. I have never agreed with the maxim “Don’t let them see you smile until Thanksgiving.”  The fact is, students respond better to authenticity. It’s OK to laugh at something the students say which is amusing—in fact, it’s quite disarming to them. It’s OK to let the students see you having fun. 

 

  1. Admit your mistakes and learn from them. Zero in on your strengths, not your weaknesses. (Remember — nobody’s perfect!) Principals also suffer from human frailty and need time to learn. School leaders need to be supported not weakened by behavior which is destructive to the Catholic School community.
  2. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the students. So learn how to spell the word “concupiscence”. Concupiscence is a tendency to put yourself first. Only divine grace enables us to rise above it. But unless you declare war on it, you are bound to succumb to the illusion that teaching is all about you.
  3. Be professional. Model desired attitudes and behavior. Make sure you dress in professional attire. Remember that you teach students first, and then you teach whatever academic discipline you learned. You are a role model for the children and partner with the parents in the formation of each child.  
  4. Empower your students and engage them in the teaching/learning process.  Listen — both to what the kids are saying and to what they’re not saying. Make sure  that assessments are frequent and fair, that work is graded in a timely fashion, and that classes are well prepared and taught from beginning to end  – every minute matters!
  5. Don’t “go it alone.” Get to know all the teachers in your school and make friends with the cooks, custodians, aides, and secretaries. We are all formators of children, just each with a different role to play. Volunteer to share projects and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask others to share their ideas with you. Understand that the learning process involves everyone — teachers, students, colleagues, and parents — and get everyone involved. Seek the advice of your colleagues, share your frustrations with them, and ask questions. Remember we are promised that whenever two or more are gathered in His name that he will be with us to enlighten and guide us.
  6. Dive in! Don’t be a person who clocks in at 7:30 and clocks out at 4 each day. Come to afterschool activities. Nothing connects you with your students faster than to be able to say “Nice hit,” or “great singing,” or “I was impressed with your artwork at the show.” You can’t be at everything; but make a point some days to just stop in at after school care to say hello.  You’ll see kids in a whole new light, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too.
  1. Pray for your students and their families. Your most important work is to bring a piece of heaven into the classroom with you. Think of your roll book as your prayer group. Never open it without praying for your young scholars and their families.
  2. Think before you speak; if you do, you won’t speak very often, for there is a great deal to think about in education. Have the courage to try something else if what you’re doing isn’t working.
  1. Thirty plus years from now, your students will not remember all that you taught them, but they will remember who you were and how you treated them You have a choice to become a minister of justice or an angel of peace. Be an angel of peace.
  2. All the knowledge we give our students is in vain if they receive it without knowing they are good and loved by God. Each day is an opportunity to channel the divine love. Don’t waste an opportunity to do so. Every minute counts!
  3. Keep a journal and take pictures. Some highly regarded Catholic school teachers share excerpts from their journal and images from the week with parents in a weekly email blast.
  4. Remember that a good day is not necessarily smooth, painless and hassle free.

May God bless you during these last days of summer especially as you formulate a vision for your school and work with teachers to prepare for the return of our young scholars and saints in formation.

Not On My Watch

“Not on my watch” is the mantra of the  new Catholic School Principals mentored under Steven Virgadamo.

Test scores and enrollment will not decline, nor will the Catholic identity be curtailed in Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of New York, assure the 21 new elementary school principals as they embark on building up the Church through the schools and pupils entrusted to their care…”

According to Virgadamo, the homework has been done to adequately prepare for the inevitable generational shift in leadership that has become a reality.  Nearly seven years ago, with the help of benefactors, the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy was established. Virgadamo, the executive director, describes the academy as the equivalent of a naval war college for school leaders.

Fifty years ago, a sense of mission and identity in Catholic schools was taken for granted because the teachers came from the same religious community, Virgadamo noted. Thirty years ago, as the number of religious in the schools diminished, a new generation of lay school leaders emerged who were mentored and formed by members of the religious community who staffed the school. Today, programs such as the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy are needed, he said, to prepare school leaders to create the same kind of unified school culture that ultimately becomes the charisma of the school.

More than 200 individuals from across the country applied for the 21  Catholic school principal positions in the archdiocese for this year, Virgadamo noted. Many cited the opportunity to be part of the team history will remember as those who rewrote the script of Catholic schools from a declining system to one which is growing and flourishing, he added.”

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Note: This post is from aleteia.org.

“Father, ‘truth’ is divisive!”

They spoke to me slowly, gently, yet firmly—as if I were a child being warned about the dangers of a hot stove.

I was a young priest then, on a committee to rewrite a school’s mission statement. I was admonished after pointing out that the proposed mission statement included the word “diversity” three times, but not the word “truth.” (Back then, “Diversity is our strength!” was not yet a slogan. Instead we had: “UNITY + DIVERSITY = UNIVERSITY!”)

– See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/06/15/educators-need-to-be-reminded-the-truth-will-set-you-free/#sthash.PGUNiODm.dpuf

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Disability, Education, and Faith

“Each of us, sooner or later, is called to face — at times painfully — frailty and illness, both our own and those of others,” said Pope Francis on June 12th, when he gave a homily celebrating Mass for the Year of Mercy jubilee of the sick and persons with disabilities.

 

Celebrating love and solidarity over focus on physical perfection and hiding away those who do not fit a standard or idea as a way to make the world a better place, His Holiness also said “The world does not become better because only apparently ‘perfect’ — not to mention fake — people live there, but when human solidarity, mutual acceptance and respect increase.”

 

Assisted at the altar by several alter servers with Down Syndrome, the Mass took place in St. Peter’s Square, and showcased several other people with disabilities including a reading of Scripture written in Braille, and Pope Francis made clear that while limitations are part of being human, we don’t always understand that. We have this idea that “sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held up by the culture of pleasure and entertainment.”

 

“In an age when care for one’s body has become an obsession and a big business, anything imperfect has to be hidden away, since it threatens the happiness and serenity of the privileged few and endangers the dominant model,” the pope said. “In some cases, we are even told that it is better to eliminate them as soon as possible, because they become an unacceptable economic burden in time of crisis.”

 

He goes on to talk about that those attitudes hindering the real meaning of life, which “has to do with accepting suffering and limitations,” and that those, the sick and weak, cast aside by society, are exactly the ones that Jesus loved most. Love is the only real path to being happy. “How many disabled and suffering persons open their hearts to life again as soon as they realize they are loved! How much love can well up in a heart simply with a smile!”

 

“Each one of us has a different way of understanding things. One understands one way and another in a different manner, but we can all know God.”

 

This is something I believe we must focus on in education as well. There are any number of issues facing children in health, access, and ability. But to truly teach a great and faith-based education, one must put accessibility and diversity at the forefront.
“Differences are a richness because I have something and you have something else and by putting the two together we have something more beautiful, something greater,” the pope said. Diversity is not something to fear, but is “the path to improvement, to be more beautiful and richer.”

Catholic School Leaders Leaving it all on the Field of Play

Much has transpired since we opened this school year. Some great days, some challenging days and we have even witnessed some days of minor miracles. And yet for most Catholic school leaders, especially those who have already given everything they have, these last few months or weeks of school can seem like an eternity. No matter how hard you try to pace yourself, a Catholic school leader who is dedicated to giving teachers, students and parents their all, sometimes doesn’t have much left when May and June roll around. Every Catholic school leader needs to approach the end of the year in a way that works best for him or her. But then again, every Catholic school leader needs to remind themselves in May/June to not “spike the ball on the 5 yard line”. Every Catholic school leader will feel better about summer vacation if they know that they have left it all on the field as they cross the finish line of another academic year.

The following strategies are important all year round but even more important to help Catholic school leaders be more effective and focused on myriad professional demands during the last lap of the academic year:

Find Time for Yourself

Doing something that allows you to get away from education-related stuff is important. It’s great to have this hobby as a regular part of your life to keep your stress levels down over the course of the year. This hobby doesn’t have to be a solo activity. It could be something that you do with your spouse, friends, children, or whomever you want. The idea is devoting time to something (other than be a school administrator and minister) that makes you happy.

Partner with Another Catholic School Leader

It’s always good to have someone whom you can count on to be there for you when things get stressful. It’s even better if this someone is also a Catholic school leader, because he or she will have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with at the moment.. He or she can walk you through problems that would have been easy to deal with in September, but seem to be impossible by May. The other side of finding a teammate is being a teammate in return. As much as you receive, you’ll need to give as well. This might sound like more of the stress that’s been leading you to burnout, but helping others can actually make you feel great. It can also help you understand other problems that you deal with at school. Having a partner with whom you can share stressful situations helps prevent you from “crashing and burning.”.

Journal

Writing on a regular basis is a wonderful way to keep the fire burning throughout the school year. This can be in a private journal or on a blog for the world to see. Writing helps get ideas out of the head and safely memorialized. I often require new school leaders to journal in their first year of service and have even encouraged some to do so with a spouse as serving as a Catholic school leader is a family commitment. The writing process can be very powerful for people dealing with high levels of stress. Writing can sometimes provide a different perspective.

Laugh

As the Jimmy Buffet song says, “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” Find the things that make you laugh and do them. The Mayo Clinic lists many of the positives of laughter when it comes to stress. The short-term benefit of laughter can “stimulate many organs, activate and relieve your stress response, and soothe tension.” The long-term impact of laughter can “improve your immune system, relieve pain, increase personal satisfaction, and improve your mood.”