Nov 12th Newsletter

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Nov 12th Newsletter

Here is the link to the Nov 12th newsletter.  My top 5 :

  1. I blogged about developing relationships. I strongly recommend this article on design principles and communication.  Although about patient-doctor conversations, it has takeaways for schools.  I can’t get the article out of my mind.
  2. In the American Catholic News section, the first three articles focus on controversies swirling around Pope Francis. If you want to take a close look at the brouhaha, read these articles.
  3. The first article in the Leadership section “Stop Asking Your Employees This One Question” is fascinating because it’s a question I used to ask as a principal.
  4. The second article in the Leadership section is deep dive research piece in the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled “Long-term Trends in Private School Enrollment.” It’s a monster!  But it’s full of great insights including the squeeze on middle class enrollees.  It’s great to get the research in order to spark change.
  5. For teachers, the first article in the Teaching & Learning section is entitled “9 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Classroom Management.” This is the time of year when teachers need all the help they can get!

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Journal of Catholic Ed newsletter

Here is the link to the Nov 5th newsletter.

This week I’m publishing articles from the Journal of Catholic Education’s fall issue.  It’s often difficult to find applicable research.  My guess is that most of us don’t know where to look.  So I figured this was a good place to start.  Please recognize that for each of these links, you’ll have to push the “download” button to read the article.  My top 5:

  1. The opening address “Welcoming the Stranger” is especially apt for these difficult times. Pope Francis talks about migrants (not immigrants or emigrants) and our common history of migration.   This is a great short opener and addresses two common themes in Catholic education today—how to become more accessible to students with disabilities AND Hispanic students.
  2. The study entitled “Who Do You Say You Are” is a great study of relationships within a Catholic school. It’s inspired me to write something for next week’s blog.
  3. De Marillac Academy” is a great study of the teaching of grit and soft skills at an inner-city Catholic school.
  4. Providing Access for Students with Moderate Disabilities” is a great study of a successful professional development program at a typical Catholic school. How do we get our teachers ready to serve in a more inclusive environment?
  5. A Content Analysis of Catholic School Written Discipline Policies” points out that Catholic school disciplinary policies are really not different from public school policies. The need to infuse them with Catholic identity is paramount.

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Oct 29th newsletter

Here is the link to the Oct 29th newsletter.

Fresh off the Catholic Leadership Summit, I’m developing some new themes for the next few months.  I’d like to spotlight a few articles from this week’s newsletter that support these new ideas:

  1. The first article in the American Catholic news section talks about the successes of the Josephinum School in Chicago. It’s a great example of finding the positives in your school and crafting your own story.  If you don’t tell it, someone else will!
  2. The second story comes from Missoula, Montana. Loyola Sacred Heart High School’s service program is featured.  We heard last week that community service programs are an important factor for Catholic parents.  Articulating the kinds of programs and the benefits to the community will drive enrollment.
  3. I’ve heard about just war more in the last two months than in the last two years. I think it’s partly because many people are worried about the outbreak of war.  But I’ve also heard it crop up in relation to Pope Francis’s recent condemnation of the death penalty.  I’ve included two articles about the “battle over just war.”  The market research testifies to a lack of clarity about what exactly the Church teaches.  This is an area deserving of our attention.
  4. To that same end, US Catholic offered a couple of great articles for your reflection. The first on the “culture of winning” explores whether that idea syncs with our Gospel values.  The second takes on the tax cut proposal and whether that can be supported by Catholic teaching.
  5. The first article in the leadership section explores the benefits of solitude. Harry Kraemer, the keynote speaker at the CLS (who I also featured on the podcast), spoke of the value of reflection.  This article highlights the value of spending time alone.

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Momentum Issue

Here is the link to the Oct 22nd issue of the Catholic School Matters newsletter.

This issue focuses on the fall issue of Momentum (NCEA’s quarterly magazine) which will be mailed out this week to NCEA members.  I’d like to make sure that every Catholic school teacher, administrator, and parent can see the great content contained in this issue of Momentum.

There are some fantastic articles in this issue:


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In today’s newsletter I have written about a new way of thinking about anthem protests at Catholic schools.  Instead of thinking about them as an “us versus them” bifurcated approach, I found language in the Vatican’s most recent statement on Catholic school which challenges our concept of community.  My top 5:

  1. This week in Montana, we’re welcoming back Roy Petitfils, the counselor/speaker who will speak all of our teachers & administrators about anxiety. Need a primer?  Check out the first article in the Miscellany section about anxiety, teenagers, and smartphones.  It should open your eyes!
  2. The first article in the American Catholic News section has a Crux interview with the President of Catholic U. He talks about echo chambers and the role of dialogue.
  3. The first article in the Leadership section “You Need to Be in Touch with the People You Lead” explores what it means to be a leader.
  4. In the Teaching & Instruction section, the first article is an examination of retrieval practices. Make sure to watch the videos.  It’s a fascinating compilation from Doug Lemov exploring how we learn and remember.
  5. The second article entitled “How to Work Smarter” is designed to assist teachers in this busy time of year.

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Classroom Management Special Issue

Here is the link to this week’s special issue on Classroom Management.

This week, I return to a special issue, this one on classroom management.  We can’t forget to give our teachers the best resources possible so they can continue to improve their craft.  My top 5:

  1. Last year’s Classroom Management Issue was full of great resources.
  2. Combine the second and third articles for a reflection on motivation and punishments.
  3. The fourth article is full of practical suggestions on how to manage misbehavior.
  4. The fifth article focuses on “classroom leadership” as opposed to classroom management.
  5. The sixth article is a compliance-focused article focused on how to get your students to follow directions which is perfect for teachers with out of control classes. (or for parents with a 5 year old who has a mind of your own.  You know who you are!)

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Joy of the Gospel

Here is the link to the newsletter.

In the first year of his papacy, Pope Francis published the apostolic exhortation Joy of the Gospel, a book-length ode to evangelization. Four years later, the meaning of missionary discipleship is beginning to bubble to the surface. Last summer, the USCCB convened a special meeting to analyze, celebrate, and establish a common understanding for the American Catholic Church.

This fall, the NCEA has decided to use Joy of the Gospel as the source for its new vision for Catholic schools. Do you want to be part of the conversation? Then you need to read Joy of the Gospel. Start by picking up a copy then read my Wednesday Book Blog describing how to approach it.

Next, read the coverage of its release and the introductory pieces on it:

  1. Fr. Stephen Bevans, SVD, offers a great introductionto Joy of the Gospel.
  2. The National Catholic Register describes 9 Things to Know and Shareabout Joy of the Gospel
  3. America presents an introduction to Joy of the Gospel

Have you read it yet? You really need to make the effort to read Joy of the Gospel. Once you do, listen to my podcast with David Faber, the outstanding superintendent of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, on the Catholic School Matters podcast. This podcast will drop Monday, September 25th and is intended to help superintendents and other Catholic school leaders as they prepare for the Catholic Leadership Summit in October.

Then, try reading some of the lengthier pieces on Joy of the Gospel:

  1. Kevin Cotter’s “Fous on Campus” blog offers some helpful tips on how to read Joy of the Gospel—including sharing great resources. He provides a great way to understand it depending on your level of interest.
  2. Cardinal DiNardo shares his thoughts on Joy of the Gospel in a Crux interview. It’s interesting and a quick read.
  3. Bishop Robert Barron describes Joy of the Gospelin a short video(9 minutes). Bishop Barron is always interesting to watch and the 9 minutes go by very quickly.
  4. The Vatican provides a synthesisof the apostolic exhortation. Do you want to know the official word? The party line? Here it is!
  5. Church Life, a scholarly magazine published by the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, published a special issueon Joy of the Gospel with lots of scholarly takes. The introduction is especially insightful but the issue itself will lead readers in a variety of directions.

If you’re interested in developing a faith formation program for your staff, here are 3 great options:

  1. Paula Gooder from Church House Publishing offers a six-session study coursein sharing faith based on Joy of the Gospel
  2. The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice produced a resource for discussion and reflectionon the Joy of the Gospel.
  3. Catholic Theological Union (CTU) has a great introductionand a study guidewith a 12- part series of videos/podcasts which can serve as an online PLC. These are short little vignettes from a variety of different topics. I’ve listened these and really enjoyed their thought-provoking nature.

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Leadership Special Issue

Here is the link to the Sep 10th newsletter.

The top 5:

  1. “What Teachers Want You To Know: A Note to School Administrators” by Jennifer Gonzalez (from the “Cult of Pedagogy” fame) is a great reminder to all principals of what should be important. You can’t read this and NOT change one thing you do tomorrow.
  2. “In Praise of Finding Life’s Balance” by David Brooks (New York Times) is not your typical work/life balance argument. Brooks argues that we are in a crisis of victimhood these days and we need to understand and confront it.
  3. “Leaders Need to Slow Down to Speed Up” is a great blog about the need for pause and reflection. It echoes Harry Kraemer’s argument that we often confuse activity with productivity.
  4. “How Filter Bubbles Distort Reality” by Shane Parrish (Farnam Street Blog) is an interesting read about how we can surround ourself with like-minded thinkers to confirm our own biases.
  5. “How to Be a Strategic Leader” was one of the most influential articles I read in the past year. We often talk about the need for strategic leadership but we rarely talk about HOW.

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American Catholic News

Link to the August 27th Newsletter.

This issue is a collection of articles I came across on the American Catholic church I came across this summer.  It’s by no means comprehensive, instead serving as a sample of the issues in and around American Catholic schools.  I’ve also included 5 articles about teaching tolerance and fighting hate in the classroom because it’s so timely.

The top 5:

  1. The profiles of two superb Catholic administrators (and future podcast guests) are worth celebrating. RaeNell Houston and Phyllis Cavallone demonstrate heart, courage, faith, and leadership.
  2. The Q & A with Sr. Erica Jordan, the Sinsinawa Dominican who challenged Paul Ryan on his adherence to Catholic social and seemingly channels the words of Pope Francis in “Joy of the Gospel.”
  3. I included three resources for understanding the Trinity Lutheran court case. It’s potentially a landmark case which could damage Blaine amendments (which limit state government’s ability to help Catholic school students).
  4. I’ve included a comprehensive section on the opening and closing of Catholic schools. We have impressive new schools opening in Kansas City, Boise, and Billings.  Read all about it!

As I mentioned, I included 5 resources for teachers to confront the issues of hate and racism.  It’s where our students are at—and Pope Francis is calling us to meet people where they are.

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Back to School Newsletter!


This issue is all about back to school resources.  I’ve included a link to last year’s issue where you can find even more resources and links.  In this issue, however, I’ve only included articles that I’ve come across in the last year.  My top 5 (in the order they appear):

  1. “5 Mistakes Teachers Make the First Day of School” (and accompanying 10-minute podcast link) is a great reminder for all teachers.
  2. “Learning Students’ Names” is full of great tips for a smooth start to the year.
  3. “Find Your Marigold” by the great Jennifer Gonzalez is a call to find mentors and to ask for help.
  4. “Tips for a New Teacher” by Danny Steele is a fantastic piece about the lessons he has learned in education.
  5. “How Was Your Summer?” serves to remind us all that not every student’s summer was fun and to be mindful of the pain and trauma that play out in our classrooms.