Rule of Life – Community in the School Setting
Educational Mission and Ministry
As Brothers of the Sacred Heart, we inherit a tradition of quality Catholic education. This tradition stems from the religious commitment, personal dedication, and professional competence of the many men, past and present, who have devoted themselves to the education of youth. Our tradition in education has developed as each generation of teachers has learned the lessons of experience from previous generations.
While our philosophy and teaching methods share many aspects in common with all of Catholic education, particularly Catholic education directed by religious communities, over the years we have developed a basic educational philosophy and fundamental pedagogical techniques which have become our hallmark. This educational spirit is lived out in the attitudes, values, and practices that we have traditionally emphasized. We value our spirit and wish for it to continue to play a major part in the role of Catholic education. We want to retain our educational heritage and share it with future Brothers and with the dedicated lay people who join us in the educational apostolate.
We believe in a holistic approach to education. We believe that a young person learns from his or her total experience of the school setting. We attempt to address the religious, academic, social, psychological, physical, and cultural development of the young person through the school's programs, courses, and policies.
Because we believe that a student learns through his or her experience of the total school environment, we devote ourselves to build within the school a community spirit that is characterized by a pervading influence of Christian values, a strong insistence on an orderly and disciplined atmosphere, a personal approach to education, and a firm commitment to academic excellence.
The most important aspect of any Catholic education is the development of Christian values and the transmission of Catholic heritage. We accept this task as the call of the Church and as the primary goal of our school apostolate. Our efforts to have religion permeate the school environment include directing religion and campus ministry programs with a pastoral orientation, modeling Christian values in dealings with others, providing religious activities in the school calendar and religious symbols in school facilities, including Church teachings and Christian values as essential components of instruction in all disciplines, and committing ourselves to service to others. In general, we aim to help students experience religion as being loved by a personal and loving God who cares for them and who is the ultimate source of true happiness and freedom.
We also believe that an orderly and disciplined environment is essential to teach love of God, love of neighbor, and love of learning. Our emphasis is on “friendly discipline” which admonishes and corrects, but at the same time teaches and encourages. While we expect and demand respect for authority and adherence to rules and regulations, we advocate discipline that is respectful of the dignity of the individual, is consistent and fair, and is based on a relationship of mutual trust and cooperation.
To promote an environment characterized by Christian concern and friendly discipline, we attempt to know our students personally and individually. We look for opportunities to be and work with students outside of class time and in less formal settings. Realizing our partnership with parents in the education process, we extend a warm and friendly welcome to parents. We give our personal attention to developing a spirit of openness and cordial relations with students and parents.
We view academic excellence as the development of each student to the maximum of his or her potential. We commit ourselves to this goal as a means of helping students become the whole and complete persons that God created them to be. To accomplish this, we pursue our own ongoing professional development, establish a demanding curriculum that emphasizes command of the basics, work at presenting well-prepared and interesting classes, and continually adapt our curriculum and methodologies to meet changing needs.
In summary, education according to the tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is holistic education rooted in religious values, structured through friendly discipline, nurtured by personal attention, and committed to academic excellence. While such an approach to education may not be unique to us, it is characteristic of us. This educational spirit consists of ideals and practices that we, through experience and reflection, have grown to value as essential to our school apostolate.
The following pages expand upon this general description of our educational spirit. They describe essential components of instruction, formation, and witness in the Brothers of the Sacred Heart educational tradition. They are not a comprehensive treatment of what is or should be, but explain those values and practices that are characteristic of our approach to education. Also included is an ideal profile of a graduate of a Brothers of the Sacred Heart school.
ROLE OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP
We view administrative leadership as an act of service to the school community. We choose for administrative roles those individuals who understand administration as service, who have demonstrated commitment to the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and who possess the proper administrative and leadership ability. The exercise of authority by administrators is an appropriate function of their roles and is a necessary part of maintaining a proper educational environment. As an act of service, administrators exercise their authority in a fair and consistent manner with their utmost concern being the welfare of the people entrusted to their care. They also exercise their roles in a collegial manner, consulting with appropriate individuals in areas of major concern.
1. The administration of each school establishes structures to allow for input from faculty, parents, and students.
2. School policies are clearly defined in appropriate handbooks and are duly promulgated. These policies are reviewed and revised regularly.
3. In assignment of duties and responsibilities, administrators avoid showing preferential treatment to any individual and ask all faculty members to carry their fair load.
4. The administration establishes guidelines for teachers, department heads, activities moderators, and staff members. Within these guidelines, faculty and staff members are granted the necessary latitude and discretion to carry out their duties.
5. Major policy decisions are made by the appropriate governing body only after consultation and discussion.
6. School leaders are charged with the responsibility of implementing the policies established by the governing body and are given the authority to make decisions necessary to carry out these policies.
7. Administrators structure their time so that they are available to faculty and staff members, parents, and students.
SELECTION AND FORMATION OF FACULTY
It is the responsibility of all faculty and staff members to form themselves in the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and to understand and to accept the religious and educational mission of the school. On a day-to-day basis, faculty members are the individuals with whom students have the most contact and who are in the best position to communicate the school's philosophy and values to the students. In hiring faculty and staff members, administrators seek out individuals who are receptive to a holistic approach to education and who can promote the religious, academic, and extracurricular goals of the school. Formation efforts are designed to enhance the faculty and staff members' understanding of their role in the religious and educational mission of the school. Through the supervision of instruction, administrators assist teachers in the development of pedagogical techniques and attitudes consistent with the philosophy of the school. Open and constructive evaluation of faculty and staff is seen as an important aspect of ensuring that the goals of the school are being met.
1. The interview of prospective teachers and staff members includes questions concerning professional competence, pedagogical techniques, religious values, openness to embracing the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and the mission of the school, and willingness to assist with extracurriculars.
2. During the course of the interview, expectations with regard to proctoring duties, teacher substitution, participation in outside-of-school activities, assistance with religious activities, and other responsibilities are clearly explained to the prospective teacher.
3. In hiring decisions, administrators give priority to those professionally competent individuals who can model a Christian lifestyle to the students.
4. Faculty meetings, in-service programs, and days of recollection are held on a regular basis and are designed to seek faculty input, to enhance understanding of the mission of the school and the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, as well as to develop professional skills.
5. Administrators establish a procedure and pattern for the supervision of instruction that ensures that each teacher is observed and receives timely and appropriate feedback.
6. The principal has a conference with each teacher at least once a year in which there is a mutual evaluation of the teacher’s performance and contributions to the mission of the school with particular emphasis given to the school’s religious dimension.
7. No teacher or staff member is dismissed without just cause and, when appropriate, adequate notice and a reasonable opportunity to improve.
8. Administrators see a strong departmental structure as an important means to facilitate the communication of the school’s goals and philosophy through the curriculum and through the formation of teachers.
As the School Leadership Committee of the New Orleans Province of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, we are charged with articulating the rich educational heritage that we have received from generations of educators faithful to the charism of Father André Coindre. This charism is a living gift, constantly growing and developing as we adapt to the needs of the various communities we serve. Our commitment is to ensure that the educational institutions where we work remain living expressions of this gift, extending to others the philosophy and teaching methods characteristic of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
The intent of this expression of our educational mission and ministry is to share our spirit and rich tradition with all who join us in our educational endeavors. We present Educational Mission and Ministry not as the only way to educate, but as a way that has proven itself over many years and in varying circumstances. This document is vital to the ongoing formation of faculty, parents, and students.
We welcome dialogue that will further a mutual sharing of educational insights and gifts. Our hope is that our educational charism, blended with the heritage of other religious congregations and enriched by the contributions of lay partners, will enable us to offer the best in Catholic education to youth.
Charism and Mission
We see the role of teaching as a Christian ministry offering Christ's attention and sensitivity to young people through the teacher-student relationship. Through the Christian teacher's concern, Christ is made present to students. In addition to preparing and presenting material and engaging students in the classroom, the teacher is available and accessible outside the class.
We believe young people's self-esteem is enhanced by the development of their full academic potential and the achievement of a sense of personal competence. Good pedagogy can foster this goal by challenging students to do excellent work and to experience mastery of essential skills.
1. Teachers make efforts to know students personally and to understand important background and family influences.
2. The teacher’s full time in the classroom is devoted to working with students; personal work is reserved for other times.
3. Teachers take the initiative to confer with students who are having difficulty or who are causing difficulties. Teachers also take time to confer with the parents.
Try as we might, we cannot regulate our lives like a musical score; a performance always has a few sour notes. You do what you can. God invites a faithfulness…. When a person has done all that he can to the best of his ability, he has done all that he must.
Feb 25, 1826
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We believe young people’s self-esteem is enhanced by the development of their full academic potential and the achievement of a sense of personal competence. Good pedagogy can foster this goal of education by challenging students to do excellent work and to experience mastery of essential skills. We seek modes of assessment that will further those goals and effectively indicate, to parents and students, the progress, growth and development of each student toward those goals.
1. Effective teaching involves a diverse range of methods, including standardized testing, which seek to assess student performance. The teacher finds ways to evaluate students on the various dimensions of their learning, including the affective and imaginative, resisting the tendency to measure only cognitive processes. In testing cognitive processes, the teacher seeks to move beyond memorization to measure other skills such as synthesis and analysis in order to develop critical thinking.
2. Teaching and assessment strategies are developed in response to the group involved. We seek to differentiate our processes, adapting them to the students before us and challenging those students to excel. These strategies include both planned processes and responses to opportune classroom experiences (“teachable moments”).
3. Teaching and assessment processes challenge teachers and students to justice. Teachers are called to develop fair, open and clear modes of assessment related to their teaching. Students are challenged to ensure all their work is reflective of their own talents, knowledge and abilities, both in standard and in content.
4. All assessment and reporting systems seek to reward improvement and to document the cumulative integration of learning. They are designed to give students and parents accurate representations of students’ abilities and performances.
5. All students are expected to demonstrate integrity in their work, to give credit to others where it is due, and to abide by the Acceptable Use Policy of their school. Plagiarism and the inappropriate utilization of other resources are unacceptable. Given the advances of this technological age, education in integrity is an essential part of our education to justice.
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Teaching and Assessment
We believe that students should be formed to successive levels of responsibility and self-discipline. Our educational charism states that we are in partnership with the family. Thus, we believe that administrators, teachers, students and parents all have a significant role to play in the educational process.
1. Students, teachers and parents all participate in the process of educating our students and all have responsibilities within this process. We seek to support all of them in their roles, providing structures and formation where necessary and encouraging appropriate participation.
2. Our relationship with parents is an adult partnership, faithful to the core values of our charism, with the goal, the continuing education and formation of the child. As partners, the challenge is to ensure that the partnership is equal and open, including parents in all aspects of educating their children.
3. Collaboration on many levels is essential for the effective education of children. With parents, this collaboration includes developing complementary systems that support the child at home and at school. It also includes systems within the school community responsive to various needs and concerns including family difficulties, bereavement and academic failure.
4. Collaboration is built on mutual trust, open relationships and an understanding of the school as community. Through our relationships with all those involved in the formation of our students, we seek to build a community reflective of our values.
5. Networking with educational organizations and other educational institutions as well as with Church authorities provides unique opportunities to further our personal and professional formation and the formation of our students. This can include collaboration with professional organizations, other high schools, colleges / universities and other organizations in order to better understand, evaluate and develop programs that reflect best practice in all applicable areas.
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Beyond Methodology: Chapter 4 (“We Expect Ourselves to Work Collaboratively”), Pages 24 – 27
“We Expect Ourselves to Work Collaboratively.”
One of the difficulties for new teachers at times is a sense of isolation. In some settings they may feel disconnected from other professionals. Though there may be hundreds of students and many other teachers close by, the new teacher may feel alone in facing the daunting challenges of teaching. Mr. Craig Martin explicitly addresses this issue.
I think teachers have a tendency to hold things in and not share them because they do not want to be looked at negatively. They don’t want things they might share to be construed as a sign of weakness. I think it is a greater strength to admit that you’re not really sure what you might do in a given situation. You’re not really sure, perhaps, how to pace yourself. You’re not really sure how much time to spend on a certain amount of material. All one needs to do is ask and learn from those people who are more experienced. Experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you have all of the answers either, but at least a more experienced person has faced a similar situation a number of times. Maybe that person has some good advice.
--Mr. Craig Martin
Accepting the fact that we teach as a community and that no one teacher has all the answers is actually a liberating experience.
Collaboration with other professionals is essential for effective instruction for new teachers and veterans alike. We should explicitly expect ourselves to collaborate as teachers. When we say that we expect ourselves to work collaboratively, here are some examples of what we mean.
Working Collaboratively—Planning: No course should be taught in isolation. Each fills a niche in the school’s curriculum. It develops skills that are introduced in previous classes and further enhanced in subsequent classes. Instruction is most effective when it takes into account this seamless whole of content and skills. That happens when teachers work collaboratively in planning by:
- Planning daily instructional activities that are coordinated with the course syllabus and with the instructional activities of others teaching the same course
- Understanding clearly the particular skills students need to master in each course
- Understanding the relationship of the course with other courses in the discipline (thus, being an effective “team” player by contributing to the success of the overall curriculum)
- Recognizing the importance of meeting and even exceeding state and regional standards for achievementReinforcing organizational skills, effective work and study habits, and oral and written communication skills that are taught across the curriculum.
Working Collaboratively—Ensuring Supervision and Safety: Teachers’ responsibility for supervision of students and for their safety obviously exists in the classroom, but it extends beyond the classroom to many other areas and situations as well. Part of what we need to expect of ourselves is working collaboratively for appropriate supervision and safety of students by:
- Becoming familiar with the school’s safety plan, including procedures and escape routes
- Examining the work area for unsafe situations and making sure they are corrected
- Acting with serious calmness and following established procedures during any evacuation drill or actual emergency situation
- Promptly reporting anything that may compromise the safety or security of students to administrators
- Devoting total attention to supervising students when in a supervisory role
- Accepting the responsibility to supervise students at all times — while on duty or off duty, while chaperoning, at special events, between classes — in short, wherever students are found.
We are responsible for safety at all times and wherever our students may be found.
Working Collaboratively—Pursuing Professional Development: Part of working collaboratively means sharing expertise, skills, and techniques that will lead to our further professional development as teachers and ultimately to increased student achievement.
No single teacher can educate a child. The kids need a diversity of faculty members.
--Mr. Ed Powers
We don’t teach as individuals; we teach as a community.
--Sr. Jacqueline Crepeau, R.J.M.
Accepting the fact that we teach as a community and that no one teacher has all the answers is actually a liberating experience. It relieves us of the burden of always having to have the answer or solution and makes available to us the collective strength and wisdom of colleagues. This awareness is especially important for new teachers because they have so many things to learn at once about their new setting. Mr. Craig Martin comments on this sometimes frightening aspect of the new teacher’s experience:
You have to get to know your school first. You have to get to know what are the common daily communications going on in the school among teachers, between teachers and students, and between teachers and administration. You also have to familiarize yourself with textbooks and courses, with what is expected on a daily basis, and you have to establish a rapport with students and colleagues. It is a tremendous amount of responsibility all at once. The advice that I would give to new teachers is, “Take it all in stride. Do not try to do everything at once.”
--Mr. Craig Martin
Working collaboratively to foster professional development and student achievement includes:
- Eating with colleagues for informal, authentic, and spontaneous sharing of successes, concerns, advice, and support
- Visiting other teachers’ classrooms to witness and learn from master teachers at work
- Sharing teaching resources by letting other teachers know your effective techniques, lesson plans, assessments, and, likewise, being open to discovering new methods in the work of others
- Using the summer to reflect on what went well and what did not
- Offering your strengths to other teachers as a guest lecturer, team teacher, coach or mentor
- Seeking other teachers’ strengths for your own benefit by knowing your limitations and using the resources of other faculty members to compensate for those
- Learning what other teachers across grade levels and disciplines are teaching in order to know the full experience of your students . . . for example, a student’s work in history class on the founding of the United States can inform his/her learning in religion class about the development of the Catholic Church in America and his or her learning in English class about the growth of American literature.
Asking colleagues how they do certain things has given me many new ideas and informed me about new materials and resources.
--Br. Clifford King, S.C
If we communicate, we can arrive at some set of common standards and goals, and we can learn to appreciate the abilities and talents that we each bring to bear.
--Mr. Ed Powers
Chapter 4—We Expect Ourselves to Work Collaboratively
“Well then, our God needs soldiers who can endure the weariness of the day to day even more than he needs contemplatives who only honor him with their lips! Sword in hand, zeal for his glory, a desire to save, to teach, to edify one’s neighbor, that is what our God loves above all.”
(André Coindre, Founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart)
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Lord, sometimes you ask too much of me.
I just want to teach.
I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of paperwork.
My schedule is filled with meetings that aren’t as meaningful
to me as they are meant to be.
I’m tired of the endless committees, goal-setting,
and new buzzwords which are supposed to inspire me.
They tire me, Lord.
It would be so much easier if I could just close the door and do my thing.
I want to teach…to touch the future…to open young minds.
I could do this, Lord, if only they would leave me alone.
But I am not alone; I am a part of something greater.
Remind me, Lord, that you’re not calling me to work by myself.
Refresh me so I can remember that this school as a whole is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.
I am part of your body; I bring you more fully when whole.
I am responsible to not just learn from my colleagues but to give to them as well.
Together there is the strength of your mission,
of your vision.
Strengthen me, Lord.
I have a meeting I need to attend.