Notes from the Principal's Desk: March 8, 2018

Last Saturday, Cathedral faculty and staff attended the Archdiocesan EdCamp at Archbishop Curley. The event drew close to 300 individuals! By all measures it was a great success for the inaugural event, as educators from across the Archdiocese were able to share best practices and wisdom from their shared experience in the classrooms.

I regret having to share some staffing changes at school this month. Mrs. Ross, our Art teacher, is resigning her position this week. In the interim we are working on two tasks concurrently. First, we are looking for a long-term substitute to complete the school year. We are currently in the interview process and have a goal of having a long-term substitute in the classroom by next week. Second, we are conducting interviews for a permanent full-time Art teacher for the 2018-2019 school year.
Finally, I wanted to revisit the conversation I had begun last week concerning personalized learning at Cathedral. You may remember I was speaking a little about the  four attributes of learning: voice, co-creation, social construction, and self-discovery. This week I want to take some time to talk about personalized learning and the 16 habits of mind. As we focus as a school on voice, co-creation, social construction and self- discovery, the 16 habits of mind become important practices that teachers endeavor to encourage, nurture and build within the students.

So, what are these habits of mind, you may ask? The 16 habits of mind are the tools the students will use to make their way throughout their academic career and continue to use to ensure success after school as they enter into a rapidly-changing world. As students practice these habits, they become more thoughtful learners and individuals. Perhaps, this chart may be the easiest way to share the habits of mind concept:

From Learning and Leading with the Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Habits for Success by Costa & Kallick

There are several aspects which we must be mindful of when instilling the habits of mind within our students.

  • As educators and parents, it is important to be mindful that learning is teacher-led and student-centered. Having a teacher who is knowledgeable in the curriculum of their content area ensures that the scope, sequence, standards, and objectives of the subject are met.
  • By engaging students to be co-creators in projects, learning tasks, and assessments, the students take ownership of their own learning. Because our teachers meet in departments and teams, they work to develop cross-curricular projects, so students can begin to build their knowledge in cross-disciplinary areas and engage different aspects of the habits of mind.
  • By working intentionally in this manner, we strive for the students to not only learn the content of a subject, but to also learn how take responsible educational risks, create, imagine, and innovate. As such the teacher's role grows and becomes more than that of a person who delivers content to the students. Instead, he/she becomes an individual who constantly models and encourages the use of the habits of mind to draw out the best of each student, while delivering instruction in a creative and engaging manner.

By offering students choice and helping them find their voice, building their capacity to be co-creators, and exploring the positives of social construction (collaboration) and self-discovery, we offer students additional opportunities to engage in their learning. We build this trust between teachers and students so that the learning environment becomes student-centered and focuses on the development of the whole child. In my mind this is part of the reason that makes Cathedral such a special place to learn.
In the coming weeks I hope to share through video, writing, and stories how our teachers put these habits of mind and attributes of learning into practice.
God bless,
Michael Wright