BRAINTREE, MA (February 8, 2019): Educators from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston gathered this week at the Pastoral Center for two sessions on fostering a Responsive Classroom. The attendees included lead teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and assistant principals from PreK-Grade 6. Mary Goslin, the director of government programs and events at the Catholic Schools Office, arranged the professional development.
Goslin said, “Responsive Classroom aligns with the mission of Catholic schools by creating a culture where everyone is valued and feels like they are connected. Also important are the social emotional skills developed through uniform practices, common language and strong student support. We are thrilled to see schools embracing this program.”
The four-day workshop, which is provided at no cost to the educators, is funded by the Catholic Schools Office and taught by the Center for Responsive Schools. According to the Center for Responsive Schools, Responsive Classroom is “an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness.” Additionally, “Independent research has found that the Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement, improved teacher-student interactions, and higher quality instruction.”
Through instruction, demonstration, small group exercises and more, attendees are learning to incorporate interactive structures and supports that are needed to promote respect, build student relationships, and encourage academic growth. Participants are learning how to respond to behaviors with clear, consistent and logical consequences, to establish a safe learning environment.
Dan Price, associate principal of elementary education at Lowell Catholic in Lowell, attended the session. He said, “The Responsive Classroom training provided us with proven classroom strategies that support students’ emotional, social, and academic development. Both of my teachers in attendance implemented new strategies the following school day, and their students responded joyfully and thoughtfully to these new ways to learn about themselves, others, and academics. I would recommend this training to all teachers and school leaders.”
Principal Maria Giggie of Saint Anthony School in Everett also attended the workshop. She said, “My most important takeaway, thus far, has been how Responsive Classroom connects students’ social/emotional competencies to academic learning. The strategies that have been presented on how to create a positive learning environment and establish effective classroom management skills are essential elements in helping students become active learners.”
Part two of the workshop — days three and four — will take place in March. The workshop, which was fully attended and had a waitlist, is one of many offered by the Catholic Schools Office to further the professional development of Catholic school faculty and staff. If you are interested in learning more about one of the approximately 75 professional development events the CSO is hosting during the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRAINTREE, MA (January 2019): Nineteen aspiring leaders and four apprentice principals recently gathered to discuss school governance models and to hear from a panel of three experts from Archdiocese of Boston Catholic schools. This session began with the aspiring leaders meeting in small groups that changed every 10 minutes and they discussed school governance models, benchmarks, and diversity of stakeholders.
Associate Superintendent of Leadership and Mission Effectiveness Dan Roy organized the event. He said, “This program is one of nine monthly in-person meetings during the school year that is designed to introduce and train aspiring leaders in topics that are essential in the successful administration of a school. Each meeting is complemented by a virtual meeting held beforehand during which participants prepare via assigned readings and discussions with school administration.”
An attendee observed that teachers are fully immersed in their roles as educators, and it was “interesting to consider the role of board members and administrators in their participation of the end game, [to examine] which people and the roles the play to reach the end goal” of a school’s mission and strategic plan.
Director of Data and Research Annie Smith, who co-authored the Catholic Schools Office Board Guide, offered some advice. She said, “I suggest that your school has a small board with 7-10 members, but also has robust committees. Ask a subject matter expert to work on a committee, and then you can transition that person to the board if they have a passion for the role. For example, you could reach out to someone in the finance world to help set tuition. That person could serve as a consultant, or they could ultimately join the board if they are a good fit and are interested in making a larger commitment of time and talent to the school.”
Three members of Archdiocese of Boston Catholic schools also acted as panelists for the aspiring leaders: Cathy Cameron, Principal, Quincy Catholic Academy; Father John Currie, Pastor, St. Patrick School, Roxbury; and Bill Burke, Headmaster, St. Sebastian’s School, Needham, and Board Chair, Trinity Catholic Academy.
Cathy Cameron spoke about her career history. She worked in Catholic schools for almost two decades and then moved to a public school. Cathy said, “I worked in a public school and I was making triple the salary. The money was wonderful, but I had gone to Catholic schools my entire life, and I had taught in Catholic schools my entire life. I gave up the money after one year and I went back to a Catholic school. I don’t regret it for a second.”
Father Currie answered a question about the role of a pastor in a Catholic school. He said, “If there isn’t a synergy with the principal, a like-mindedness, a shared belief in mission and openness to one another, and a holding of that relationship in deep trust, a school can quickly be derailed. The pastor and principal must be on the same page, working together.”
Bill Burke is in his 29th year of leading St. Sebastian’s. He fielded a question about maintaining Catholic identity. “If you want your parents to love you, you love their children. You remind the parents that the only reason the school exists is because of Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior. Sell the academics and the mission at the same time — our goal is to get their sons to heaven.”