Tag: administration (page 1 of 3)

Essential Factors for Effective School Leadership

Leadership is essential to the success of any school. Without proper leadership, there would be no one to plan out the route or direction that the school should be heading in, and there would be no one to guide the district down that path. Not everyone has the ability to be a leader, however, especially for a school. In order to lead a school effectively, there are certain factors people need to aspire toward achieving. Here are some of those factors.

 

Organizational Knowledge

 

The first step to effective leadership is having extensive knowledge of the instructional environment. You need to know what a student will need, the strengths and weaknesses of your fellow staff members, the different instructional programs available in the program, student data, and scheduling. 

 

Effective school leaders take all of this knowledge and turn it into the foundation that the school will be built upon, then move onto approaching the specifics of how the school will be run: how will they address their students’ needs? Who will all be part of the leadership teams necessary for running instructional programs? What programs, exactly, will be taught, and how will this help develop the education students are receiving?

 

Scheduling

 

To achieve a high level of performance, effective leaders will need to be able to schedule their schools for success. This can mainly be observed in what a student’s typical day will look like: when they’ll attend classes, how long the classes will last, how struggling students will be supported during the day, etc. Finalizing details like this will help maximize the number of available support staff at the school while making sure that there are no restraints on necessary resources—this is particularly crucial if the school district is struggling monetarily. 

 

Outside of the school day, scheduling data meetings should be a high priority for school leaders. These meetings will impact how instruction is taught at the school, so it’s important for leadership to allocate time and resources where necessary (one example being hiring substitute teachers). 

 

There are, of course, many other factors that contribute to effective school leadership: using data collected and making decisions based on the facts, having high expectations and positive beliefs that reflect on the culture of the school, and much more. Though aiming for these factors will contribute to a successfully run school, no one expects one person to have all of the answers. It’s a matter of asking the right questions, turning to others for help, sharing a sense of ownership in the problem, and sharing a sense of ownership in the solution that makes someone the best leader that they can be.

 

How to Help Your Children Learn During the Pandemic

While children get ready to go back to school, as a parent it’s natural to worry about what this year’s education will look like in the face of the global pandemic. Some schools are returning to in-person classes that are modified to fit within set guidelines, while some offer a hybrid of in-person and online courses, and others are continuing to teach their students completely remotely. No matter what your children’s school is doing for the upcoming year, there are ways you can help keep their education on trackespecially if they’re remaining remote for this upcoming year. Here are a few of those ways.

 

Establish a routine.

 

Having a routine to follow is important for children and young people, so doing your best to establish one that works within your schedule will be helpful to their education. Try to factor in educational programs that can be followed online, on the television, or on the radio, and set aside some time for reading and, if your children are younger, playtime. When you go about everyday errands and activities, use those moments and turn them into learning opportunities. Important as a routine is, don’t be afraid to switch up the sorts of activities you and your children do together. This will lend them some flexibility in their lives and keep them from becoming restless and agitated. If possible, plan as much as you can with the input from your children being kept in mind.

 

Have an open dialogue.

 

Even if your children are going back to in-person classes, how they receive their education will be much different than how the school year started last fall. Encourage them to ask questions and express their feelings to you, and whatever you do, don’t minimize their concerns. Being in the middle of a pandemic is stressful and scary, and it’s perfectly natural for children to feel these while the world changes around them. Assure them that their feelings about what’s going on are valid and natural, and show them that you’re listening by giving them your full, undivided attention. 

 

Take your time.

 

If your children’s school is fully remote this year, chances are you’ll be playing the role of parent and teacher in some cases. After all, a teacher can only do so much over a Zoom call. If you decide to take some of their learning into your own hands, start out with short, ten minute lessons and work your way up to longer lesson times. Get in contact with your children’s teachers or school if you need any guidance; you can also reach out to parent groups for support if need be.

 

Enrollment Management – A New Normal or Not?

A number of schools are saying they have enrollment concerns for 2020-2021 and others are closing prematurely before seeing what the Fall enrollment will be.  Steve Virgadamo believes that massive school closings may not all be related to pandemic issues. He believes there are steps you can take, even in the “Normal Next Covid” economy, to ensure that your school not only survives but flourishes. The trend of moving students back into government-sponsored schools predates the Covid19 pandemic, with affluent families leading the migration to public schools.

 Bursari Executive Vice President Steve Virgadamo shares with us some thoughts on leadership and Enrollment Marketing.  

Steve says it is not just the pandemic…..

 

  1.     “Own your Brand”
  • Your brand is the essence of who you are. It is a promise to your families and the delivery of that promise is essential to increasing market share. Your brand is unique to you. Your attributes, offerings and whom you serve need to be expressed but they need to be defined and used constantly in all school communication whether printed, digital, or verbal.

 

  1.     “Cater to the Millennial Market”
    • Start by defining the millennial parent – your customer – and identify what millennials are seeking in an education for their child(ren);
    • Identify what unique experiences, resources, and tools you have available that can be used to meet the millennial parents’ expectations;
    • Remember today’s parents are not comparing the customer experience with other schools. They are comparing the speed and comprehensiveness of your customer service to the customer care they experience in every other aspect of their life. Think Amazon and Disney experiences.

       
  1.     “On-Line Marketing Rules the Day”
    • Digital marketing is vital. TV, radio, direct mail, lawn signs etc. are past their “sell by date.” The digital marketing space is expanding every hour. Social media ads should be a primary component of your marketing strategy. They are force multipliers that allow you to broaden your reach while engaging your existing audience in meaningful ways.
    • Digital storytelling is a creative way to familiarize people with your brand. You can show one digital advertisement after another in a specific sequence to tell your story.
    • Hypertargeting is the ability to deliver a tailored message to a specific niche audience. Hypertargeting is the most efficient way to both use and stretch your marketing budget.

 

  1.     “Measure and Assess”

Most schools fail to track and assess the effectiveness of their marketing plan. It is important to remember that you cannot improve what you do not measure.

      • Keep a simple log of all aspects of the enrollment process. Record data such as website visits, information requests, campus tours, applications, deposits, etc.
      • Monitor and track student attrition

         
  1.     “Keep Your Finger on the Market’s Pulse”
    • A benefit of telling your school’s story across digital platforms is that you can watch in real time as your constituents and prospective parents/students interact with your story. Their behavior will let you know what is speaking to them and what is not.
    • Test, adapt and refine your marketing story. Your story shapes your brand. Your brand increases student inquiries and customer service converts inquiries to enrolled students.

 

We would love to hear more about your enrollment management best practices. Email them to Steve Virgadamo – svirgadamo@msn.com.  We are all in this together.

Summertime, Children and Reading

By Steven Virgadamo, Bursari.com Executive Vice President

 

The current school year is winding down quickly. I get most excited about summertime as it is a good time to establish an amazing connection….summertime, children and reading should be like peas and carrots….things that go well together. Reading for young scholars can always open up galaxies of possibilities, but, reading in those lazy days of summer invites play, the unexpected and encourages an unbridled imagination. Every book is a possibility.

 

Ensuring free time to read and imagine is perhaps the best of summertime opportunities: a wonderful companion to any program, camp or class.

 

But not all great summertime reading should be done by a child in isolation. Sometimes there is nothing better than reading together. Sharing a story with your child means sharing language, life, and perspective. Characters’ decisions, good ones and bad, morph into complex conversations outside the pages. Funny moments become inside jokes, and travels to exotic lands an inexpensive possibility.

 

I wish you all parents and young scholars a summer filled with opportunities to make family memories as well as lots and lots of books.

Look Up, Not Down – Planning for the Opening of Schools is not a Dark Hole, It’s a Mountain

Bursari Executive Vice President, Steven Virgadamo has spent 30 years as a national leader in the American K-12 educational system. It is not unusual for school leaders to seek his guidance and counsel on a regular and frequent basis. We asked Steve to share with you some of the counsel he provides to school leaders with regards to the reopening of K-12 schools in a Covid19 world. He shared the following:

  • Students and staff should wear masks and pass through temperature reading cameras as they come on campus.
  •  Hallways should be designated one way to allow for social distancing and safe passage. 
  • Stickers should be placed 6 feet apart on stairwells, hallways, and other public areas to promote, remind and encourage social distancing.
  • Signs asking scholars to safe distance should be displayed throughout the building.
  • Students and staff should be given safe distancing “scores.”
  • Campuses should be closed to visitors. 
  • Student and staff temperatures should be monitored frequently.
  • Hand sanitizers should be available throughout the building especially at the entrance and exits of classrooms.
  • Dining hall usage should be canceled, and students should eat in classrooms.
  • Transportation routes should be adjusted to reduce overcrowding on buses.
  • Assembly plans should follow the guidelines utilized in each state for public gatherings.
  •  Sport seasons should be changed to delay any implementation of contact sports which do not allow for appropriate social distancing until later in the school year.
  •  Students should have an e-device dedicated to them for their exclusive use.  
  • Student workstations should be sanitized with wipes between classes and the buildings should be disinfected regularly.
  • Electronic thermometers should be utilized to read student temperatures frequently throughout the day.
  • Plexiglass study hall like corrals may be placed on each student workstation.
  • Parents should be asked to electronically sign each of their children into school and document that the child is not ill.
  • A safe place and comfortable should be dedicated to quarantine any ill student.
  • The handling of papers, forms, currency, checks etc. should be minimized as these items are just as likely to spread the virus as physical contact.

 

Protecting the health and wellbeing of school staff and students must be of paramount importance for every school leader. Bursari.com can help you provide a safer environment for the reopening of school and signing a school up for Bursari is simple and easy. There are no contracts, sign up fees or maintenance costs. Don’t leave the remote world of schooling and return to campus without it.

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.