Tag: students (page 1 of 2)

Helping the Underachieving Student

Underachievement typically stems from emotional or psychological turbulence, not laziness.

Statistics regarding waning academic performance are troubling: Jo Ann Natale of The Education Digest determined that approximately 40 to 60 percent of students are underachievers. If your child isn’t living up to his or her potential, however, you can use this gentle guidance to get them back on track:

Have Your Child Screened For A Learning Disability

No amount of tutoring or positive reinforcement will help your child if he or she has an underlying learning disability. It is imperative that children in this instance are screened as soon as possible. Many students with ADHD and Inattentive ADHD aren’t properly diagnosed until high school, college or adulthood. That’s a long time to go without help.

Don’t Compare

One of the best ways to reinforce underachievement is comparisons that make children feel inadequate: “Why can’t you get good grades like your sister?” Comparisons to siblings, friends, neighbors — even yourself — can scald. If your child’s battling depression and insecurity, they’ll only intensify.

Schedule Parent-teacher Meetings

If you’ve noticed a problem, your child’s teacher probably has too. A parent-teacher meeting, including your child, would help. Meeting with a teacher will also alert him or her to whether your child cuts class or forgets an assignment, so that you can be notified. If your child hasn’t progressed after a month, revisit the teacher.

Build Your Child’s Confidence

Praise every victory your child has, small or large. Always use positive reinforcement — “I know you’ll do well on the test” — rather than negative reinforcement — “Don’t fail the test.” If they are particularly hard on themselves after having failed the test, reassure them that they are smart and will do better next time. Give sincere praise, not platitudes.

Your child may be wired differently than others, but that doesn’t mean they cannot live up to their full potential. Use these tips to help your underachieving student get back on the road to achievement. And the best thing you can do? Always remind them that they are loved, regardless of their school performance.

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:

Steven Virgadamo discusses the Fall Semester, Lunch and Student Focus

By the time October rolls around many parents are frustrated that an elementary school child is not eating well at school. Many have already succumbed to that ever-tempting “lunchables” and a bag of chips. Never forget that a child’s meal is a building block to their health and academic success in school.

Here are a few tips to packing a nutritious lunch that kids love;

  1. If you are packing a sandwich, use whole grain bread. The bread must have 3 or more grams of pure fiber to be“true” whole grain bread.
  2. Package the lunch to look like the popular of f the shelf items like “lunchables.” Cut sandwiches into fun shapes like hearts and flowers.
  3. If your scholar won’t eat a sandwich try nutrient dense muffins. You take any basic muffin recipe use gluten free flour and coconut sugar. Add veggies like Carrots etc.
  4. Be sure to include fruit like grapes, apples and bananas.
  5. Make a trail mix – nut free of course – but you can include things like raisins, dried apples, berries and you can even add some dark organic chocolate chips.
  6. Ditch the Juice and replace with water. Add some food coloring if you need to make a more desirable presentation.

Meals rich in fiber are proven satisfy hunger which will allow young scholars to focus better on school work. Whole foods for scholars will instill overall well-being and lifelong healthy eating habits. Most importantly, practice what you preach. If your children see you eating well, they too will grow up eating well.

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.”

Bullying in Catholic Schools

Bullying in schools is as much a problem today as it has ever been. Perhaps even moreso than it used to be. But how do Catholic schools handle the problem? How do you teach and reprimand in the Catholic way? In the last few years, there has been an increase in a technique called Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline. “This faith-filled approach to addressing bullying and other disruptive behaviors stands as an exemplary model for our parishes, homes and schools.” says Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis

 

Designed to minimize the anti-social behaviors that can so often cause problems in schools, while simultaneously increase faith practices. Developed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, it focuses on the root cause of bullying and other harmful behaviors, rather than punitive repercussions after the fact. It focuses on inspiring children to perform acts of kindness, lay a foundation of spirituality in children and parents alike, helping teachers to recognize and understand warning signs, and create accountability and responsibility for preventing and solving conflicts with the children themselves.

 

And rather than just focusing on addressing the issues of bullying, it focuses instead on leading a life in the way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a better, kinder way of living. By asking children “How do you see the God in others?” you take them out of their own mindset and immediate circumstances and lead them towards a more forgiving and generous way of thinking.

 

The Catholic Education Office offers training in this program now, and over 200 educators from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and seven other surrounding states can attend comprehensive training in VBRD, School teams will be trained to prevent and reduce antisocial behaviors through virtue education and restorative practices, resulting in a consistent message that upholds the dignity of the human person. “This is our fourth year for this unique training,” said Lynne Lang, director of School Climate at the Catholic Education Office. “Our returning schools are a testimony to the success of this work and reflective of the archdiocesan beONE initiative goals.”

 

For a full list of resources on this program, visit VirtueBase.org for books and press that can help you bring this into your own classrooms and schools. You can also look there for information on keynote presentations for diocesan retreats, workshops, training services, or presentations for faculty, parents, or students at that same website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DdUTXFU4sg

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Well Begun, Half Done: 10 Benefits of Catholic Education

Kids Design and Build Backyard Chapel

Note: This post is from the National Catholic Register. Please check out the link for photos and more work from them!

by Susan Klemond 06/09/2016

Standing outside a cottage in a St. Paul, Minn., backyard with three small altar servers on the feast of the Visitation, Father Lenny Andrie prepared to process in for the inaugural Mass in a chapel that the servers and other children had built themselves.

 

As the procession entered, about 20 kids and adults rose from diminutive handcrafted wooden benches, singing Immaculate Mary in the pale-yellow chapel that Father Andrie, parochial vicar at St. Joseph in West St. Paul, had just blessed.
Inside, white sheets covered the walls and ceiling, and 14 squares of wood, some bearing faint images of the Stations of the Cross, were promises of a more permanent chapel interior. But everything was in place for Mass: a wooden altar covered by a white cloth, crucifix, candles, pictures and cruets.
During the Mass, children in Sunday clothes read, sang and brought up the gifts in the chapel that they had conceived, built, decorated and named “Visitation Catholic Church,” with the goal of pleasing God.
The story of the chapel is one of children’s faith, love of the Eucharist and eagerness to learn new skills. It’s also about a family learning to trust more in God’s provision.
Four summers ago, Andrew Lehnen and his next-door neighbor, Mary Marsolais, looked at the dilapidated shed —formerly a pigeon coop — that Andrew’s parents planned to remove from their backyard, and the two young friends thought, “Why not turn it into a chapel?
Using the driveway as a table, Andrew, then 8, and Mary, then 9, drew up the first plans on a sheet of paper. They wanted a real chapel, not a clubhouse or fort, because Andrew was inspired after making his first Communion, and the children, with their siblings, had grown up “playing Mass.”
“It just sounded amazing,” Mary said.

It was so amazing that no one believed the children could make it happen. But their parents consented, neighborhood families helped, and, after four years, they were ready at the end of May to welcome Father Andrie.
Andrew’s parents, Randy and Jennifer Lehnen, helped with the work and materials, but in the early stages, they kept their backup plan in mind: to turn the old shed into a greenhouse — or a better shed.
Andrew “has always had this engineering brain, and [is] full of ideas, so I’m not surprised that he came up with the idea; but he was 8 years old, and we were like, ‘Okay, when is this actually going to happen?’” Jennifer said.
But the kids were serious. Andrew and Mary, along with their siblings and friends, gutted the 10-by-16-foot shed —which was “the funnest part,” according to Andrew. In a scene reminiscent of an old barn raising, neighborhood kids and their parents moved the wooden frame to a spot behind the family’s garage.
“The hardest part of the project was probably just keeping positive thoughts that, ‘It’s still going to happen, and it’s not something that’s going to melt away,’” Mary said. “Just totally believing it’s going to happen.”
In the years that followed, the kids helped install the walls, siding, roof and floor. It was more work than they anticipated, Andrew said.
During this time, Randy was frequently job-hunting and could give the children more help in finding materials, teaching them and providing other support. It was a time when the family grew in their dependence on God and his provision — not only for building materials for the chapel, but for their basic needs, Jennifer said.
Nearly every material for the chapel, except the siding, was donated or found. Family and friends donated windows, rugs, a keyboard and skylights.
Local parishes offered U.S. and Vatican flags and a kneeler. Wooden pallets found on a curb became the foundation for sanctuary flooring. An electric chandelier from a nearby house that had been sold was converted for use with candles, and plywood was gathered after a winter sports event.
A garage sale brought in funds the kids hope to use for future additions, such as statues. Also on their wish list: heating and electricity, materials for the interior, and a bell tower. In the meantime, the kids talk about the chapel as their own place to pray, a place for which they still have a lot of plans.