Catholic School Matters

August 20, 2017

Back to School Issue 2017

As we begin to welcome students back to school, it’s a stressful time for students, teachers, and principals. Parents? There is some stress, mixed with relief (see this video!). I should draw your attention to the most popular episode of the Catholic School Matters podcast I published last year: Advice from New Principals. It's full of great "from the field" advice for principals. A couple of things to remember before perusing the list below for worthwhile resources:


· Your students don’t care what you know until they know you care. This directly flies in the face of “Don’t Smile Till Christmas.” Don’t simply aspire to be liked, sometimes the love you show is holding them accountable and enforcing consequences.

· Your students need routines. Some of them live in very chaotic environments. The sooner you establish routines and procedures, the sooner your students will relax.

· If you’re a new teacher, find mentors. Maybe one mentor for writing lesson plans, another for class management, another for dealing with parents. Don’t look for just one!

· We need to model growth mindset. If you’re simply rolling out the same lesson plans and activities, you are sending the message that you don’t care to try. Try something new. Even if it fails, you’re trying and students notice. Fail fast. Fail forward. Keep trying.

· When something happens you don’t understand (e.g. schedule change, a student gets added to your class, etc) try to understand why first. If you still don’t understand, work collaboratively to change it. And keep it professional. Students notice if you complain and will copy your behavior.


Below are the resources I came across the past year. I didn’t include the links from last year’s edition of the Back to School Issue (August 2016).


Resources for the first day:

· 5 Mistakes Teachers Make the First Week of School by Vicki Davis

· Learning Students’ Names and Improving Classroom Management by lauraleemoss

· 3 Inspiring Quotes and a Video to Start the School Year! By Ross Cooper


Resources for New Teachers:

· Find Your Marigold: The One Essential Rule for New Teachers by Jennifer Gonzalez

· A New Teacher’s Big List of All the Little Things by Middleweb

· Tips for a New Teacher by Danny Steele


General Resources for a new school year

· 7 Questions to ask yourself as you prepare for a new school year by Educational Discourse

· 5 Questions to Ask Your Students To Start the School Year by George Couros

· How Was Your Summer? By spoonvision

· Back 2 School: No Drinking from the Fire Hose Please! By Oskar Cymerman

· How to Bring ‘More Beautiful’ Questions Back to School by Mind/Shift


As we begin the new year, I’d like to draw your attention to the following resources:

· Subscribe to the daily collection of resources from Twitter: Catholic Schools Daily

· Subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast

· Subscribe to my personal blog

· Subscribe to this weekly newsletter


Have a great start of the school year!


Dr. Tim Uhl

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What I'm Up To

I'm hard at work on the podcast, having recorded over 30 episodes for Season Two already. We'll kick it off next Monday, August 28th, with a two week blitz of conversations with thought leaders in and around Catholic education. Fr. Tim Scully, the co-founder of the ACE Teaching program at Notre Dame, will be the first guest. Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes.


Here's what I'm working on this week:


  • I'm continuing to develop a "Church Documents" podcast study series. I'll be recording episodes 6-10 this week, which means I'm busy immersing myself in pastoral letters et al. The series will kick off on October 30th and will trace Church documents on Catholic education from Vatican II until today. I recommend you order At The Heart of the Church so that you can read along
  • St. Francis School in Billings opens their brand new building on Wednesday. The school has feverishly worked to move out of three buildings and into the large, new one this summer. Ribbon-cutting is on Wednesday. Dr. Tom Burnford of the NCEA will visit Billings on Thursday to tour the school--part of his western tour of new schools after visiting the brand new St. Ignatius School in Meridian, Idaho.
  • Monday: Office (Helena); record future podcasts with principal Patricia McGann of Arlington, and the Church document on lay Catholics with Tom Schutte & Tom McDonald; followed by dinner with author/speaker Eric Sheninger
  • Tuesday: Office (Helena); record future podcasts with Lynne Lang of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and John Galvan (Diocese of San Diego) on The Vatican's document on education from 1988; travel to Billings
  • Wednesday: ribbon-cutting at St. Francis School, travel to St. Labre (Ashland) to visit with Ivan Small; record podcast with CLS speaker Harry Kraemer; From the blog: Wed book blog The Originals by Adam Grant.
  • Thursday: host Dr. Tom Burnford's visit in Billings; record future podcast with Dr. Kevin Baxter on the US Bishop's pastoral statement on education from 1990
  • Friday: Office (Helena); record future podcasts on Church documents with Sr. Mary Grace Walsh (Hartford) and Fr. John Belmonte (Peoria)


Miles this week: 943 road miles

Miles travelled in 2017-18: 3,825 road miles; 4,866 air miles

First Day of School Resources

Resources for New Teachers

General Resources for a New School Year

“In the Tub” Back to School — 50 Cent - In Da Club Parody

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

August 2016 Back to School Issue

What I Read Over the Summer


  1. At the Heart of the Church: Selected Documents of Catholic Education Ed. by Ronald Nuzzi
  2. Redeeming Conflict by Ann Garrido
  3. Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church
  4. Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action by Michael Fullan & Joanne Quinn
  5. The Council: Vatican II in Plain English by Bill Huebsch
  6. The Decrees and Declarations: Vatican II in Plain English by Bill Huebsch
  7. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
  8. Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic by Leonard Berry & Kent D. Seltman
  9. What Happened at Vatican II by John W. O'Malley
  10. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild
  11. Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King & Halee Fischer-Wright
  12. Originals by Adam Grant


Click this link for a full list of my professional reading along with links to Wed Book Blogs

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

  • Catholic Mutual safety surveys are due. These can be found on the Catholic Mutual website.
  • 11 people have signed up to offer breakout sessions in Butte for the Catholic Teacher Days. We could use a few more high school teachers! Here is the flyer advertising the Catholic Teacher Days October 19th & 20th in Butte, America
  • Here is the flyer for the Sophia professional development for religion teachers on October 19th in Butte, America
  • Make sure that all operations forms (i.e. field trip permission, etc) are up to date and ready for distribution
  • Monthly emergency drills should be scheduled
  • Asbestos letter & nondiscimination notices should be checked and updated
  • All PIR days should be scheduled