Tag: leaders

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?




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.


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.

Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith And Making It Stick

Note: This post is from The CatholicKey Online. Please check out this and more work over at their website!

Review by Scott McKellar

Marc Cardaronella, diocesan Director of the Bishop Helmsing Institute, has written a very timely book about the need for parents to share their faith with their children. The sad truth is that the majority of Catholic children will leave the church before the age of 21. As Catholic parents, this is not the outcome we hope for. What can be done?

Cardaronella suggest that there are three things we can do to avoid this outcome. First, secure your own faith. The example of our own faith as parents is essential. We cannot just passively expect the parish education program to do this job for us. If we value our own children’s faith, we will work on our own faith life. Cardaronella shares his own faith journey to illustrate how to grow in faith. The most essential component is to foster our own personal adherence or voluntary commitment to Christ. Only then can this be shared with our children. He notes, “The child must also be led to understand this great gift as a personal invitation to share in the Christian life. . . accepting the invitation leads to conversion” (p. 14). This theme is developed in detail in Part II of the book, “Is your own faith secure?” This section forms a kind of self-guided retreat on the condition of the heart. Cardaronella gives prayers and reflection questions and practical advice on how to deepen your personal faith.

The second component is to educate to foster faith. Very often parish education programs focus exclusively on passing on information about the faith. Clearly learning about the faith is important and it is necessary to gradually give our children a systematic understanding of the faith, but without a second component this type of learning can fall flat. Turning to Blessed John Henry Newman, Cardaronella suggests a different model which focuses on personal influence and witness. This theme is expanded in Part III, “What kind of education fosters faith.” Again giving the reader practical reflections, prayer questions and further resources Cardaronella highlights those aspects of learning that are crucial for developing faith. This section is divided into three topics. The first in understanding the Bible as the story of salvation. Cardaronella gives practical advice on how to approach the Bible and pass on the faith to our children. The second section involves the story of the liturgy in which he helps the reader to understand Mass and the liturgical year more deeply. He concludes this section with helpful guide to mentoring relationships.

The final component is to create a home of faith. Once again it is clear that Parish and school programs only have a tiny influence in our children’s lives. Our home is the primary influence. Cardaronella suggest four ways that parents are vital for passing on the faith to our children. The first is influence. Parents have far more effect on their children than they are aware of. Cardaronella notes, “If you want your children to grown up to be good Catholics, be one yourself! (p. 28). The second is to teach through relationship. Cardaronella notes that although parents might assume they are too “uncool” to teach their children, researchers have shown that even teen children are still listening and open to being taught even if they act uninterested. But in order to do this you need relationship with your children. The third vital parent behavior is to talk about faith. The experience of talking about our faith makes it something that is not vague but specific and challenging. Cardaronella warns “In order to articulate faith, you have to internalize it and understand the reasons why you believe it” (p. 31). We need to be open to honest discussions and not merely appeal to the rules. The final component is religious practices. Adolescent faith is activated through specific spiritual and religious practices. This theme is expanded in Part IV, “How to create an environment of faith?” In this section Cardaronella discusses the topics, ‘Training in godliness,’ ‘Seeking personal relationship with God,’ ‘Praying from the heart,’ and ‘Structuring life to support faith.’

A final important section involves helping your children to make an act of faith. Cardaronella applies the tools of evangelization to the family. What is the message of the Gospel and how do we present it to our children? He presents three different moments of Catholic commitment, the age of reason, early teens, and late teens.

Overall this is a very practical guide for parents that will help them to get the most out of their family faith experience. Each section of the book ends with reflections, prayers and applications that make the book a life changer.

Scott McKellar is associate director of the Bishop Helmsing Institute.


Traits of Successful, Organized Catholic School Leaders

Catholic School Leaders have way too many demands on their time. Recent research suggests that a Catholic school Principal performs myriad tasks during the day, but none for longer than 15 minutes.  It is no wonder some say….”the Catholic School Principal – Will Jesus do?”

Yet, there are some Catholic school leaders that always mange to meet the challenges of the job. What each of these school leaders have in common are:

  • Have a clear understanding of deliverables and a vision of what success will look like

o   Each school leader has a job description and an idea of the appraisal process, but high performing school leaders understand the key deliverables and what they will ultimately be measured on.


  • Understand how they spend their time

o   Effective school leaders regularly analyze how they are spending their time and ask themselves am I spending my time to achieve my key deliverables. These leaders identify the mismatches between their activities and desired deliverables and then take action to align time on task with achieving the desired deliverables.


  • Monitor results

o   Focusing on deliverables delivers results. Successful Catholic school leaders measure their own performance against goals on a quarterly basis and are willing to realign objectives to achieve the results desir