Catholic School Matters
November 15, 2022
Resources from the Summit
Last Thursday’s Diocesan Education Summit was a remarkable success. I found myself continuously amazed at the quantity and quality of participants in the day’s events. There was a positive attitude and sincere belief in our collective future. My hope is that this day is only the beginning of a determined effort to make our schools more vibrant and attractive.
Dr. Kevin’s Baxter’s slide deck can be found here. We were blessed to have such an inspirational, visionary speaker despite his affinity for Patrick Mahomes. Recall that Dr. Baxter talked about dropping a pebble into the hole each day instead of hoping that one day a huge rock will fall into it. Have you been dropping a pebble every day?
My slide deck and all the great links can be found here. One item that needs a little attention is this year’s Fall Diocesan Scorecard. We’re now going to start constructing the individual school scorecards.
What’s next? Our hope is that you’ll bring this information to each of your schools and begin the work of establishing each of your school’s unique value proposition. We need to get more people involved in ensuring your school’s sustainability.
Previous blogs can be found here. Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.
Dr. Tim Uhl
Kari Buchinger on Academics
Are you interested in STAR PD? We have the opportunity to participate in a Champions Academy which would allow one or two representatives from each school to spend three days learning everything you need to know about STAR testing and reporting. This is meant for the assessment leader in your building. That may be a principal, assistant principal, teacher leader, or technology coordinator. If you are interested please complete this form by Monday, November 21.
Science of Reading
I’m back with Amplify’s Primer Part 2! We’ve heard a lot about the need for early phonics instruction in order to support emerging readers. Primer Part 2 dives into the importance of pairing that strong phonics instruction with background knowledge. When given a story on baseball they found that students who had knowledge of baseball outperformed students who were good readers but didn’t know baseball. The research presented here suggests that background knowledge has a greater impact on comprehension than the reading strategies that are flowing through the pages of textbooks in classrooms across the diocese. When you take a minute to step back and think about this critically, of course it does. Students are often instructed to re-read when they don’t understand a sentence. But, if that sentence is about an animal, time period, or country they know nothing about that strategy may not lead to greater comprehension. Where does this background information come from? It comes from science, social studies, religion, and independent reading. Times in our daily schedule that often get cut or squished to squeeze in assemblies, field trips, visitors etc. I want to draw your attention to page 48, “Think of reading as a suitcase that requires two keys to open it. The first key is word-level decoding skill that becomes automatic, fluent. The second key is language, vocabulary, domain-specific knowledge, and the microcomprehension skills to build a good mental model.” Does your daily schedule allow you to prioritize both keys? Or, does it lean more towards decoding? Vocabulary? Are you constantly cutting out content courses and in turn holding students back from building background knowledge and vocabulary? The future scientists, historians, engineers, and explorers require access to both keys. What changes could you make in your day to ensure they get just that?
Siobhan has put together some spelling bee information for everyone. Please use this link to access some tips and find the spelling bee registration form. If you have any questions about the event please email Siobahn at email@example.com.
Katie from Catholic Charities was kind enough to pass along the Loving Kindness Meditation she shared last week. You can access that here. Thank you Katie!
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
To get registered for the Learning Platform, send Laurie W your staff emails and she'll get an account for everyone.
Here is the link for the Office Blog with the latest forms and information. This can be found on the website under "Blogs.
Chris Riso on Government Services
11/30/22 New NYS Health Care Worker Bonus (HWB) Program Deadline
BEDS Report Due This Friday 11/18/22: It looks like most schools have completed your shared BEDS Google Sheet; would the remaining few schools please complete that shared form? Email Laurie W. if you need help finding your BEDS Google Sheet. Although we are very thankful that you are sharing this Google Sheet with us, it is far more important that you submit your BEDS report online to NYSED using the “IRS Data Exchange” application on the Business Portal (http://portal.nysed.gov/) by this Friday’s deadline (11/18/22). Please call me if you are having problems accessing and completing your BEDS form at NYSED.
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
With basketball seasons right around the corner, reminder to all coaches that one change to the Athletics Handbook is the requirement that every player gets to play every game. We also hope that if there are cuts, they are based on lack of commitment or effort, not on talent.
Basketball schedules should be finalized this week. Principals, ADs, coaches, and parents should all see them this week.
Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information.
- Presentation on Black Catholic History from the Diocese of Buffalo's Office of Cultural Diversity.
- Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
- The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
- School Pastor's Administrative Guide
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
- New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Articles for Your Reflection
Fun Facts About Turkeys - And a Digital Turkey Project
We frequently have wild turkeys come through our backyard. And almost as frequently one of my dogs will chase them until they fly off. I was recently telling a friend about this pattern and he said, "I didn't know that turkeys can fly." That's actually a pretty common response if you don't live where wild turkeys live.
Setting the Stage for Advent & Christmas Moments
My children's choir's two favorite words every year? "Christmas concert." Though we practiced every week in preparation for one Sunday Mass a month, working on Christmas songs for the concert was what fueled their participation during the slowly darkening evenings of late fall.
Making and Leading Virtual Tours With Expeditions Pro
Many of use lamented the loss of Google Expeditions because it was a great tool for leading students on virtual reality tours of all kinds of interesting places around the world. Similarly, many of us were disappointed when Google shuttered Tour Creator because it was a great tool for students to use to create their own virtual tours.
Catholic School Matters Podcast
With so many events planned in October & November, the podcast is going on a little hiatus. This season's Catholic School Matters podcast episodes:
- Dr. Kevin Baxter, the co-editor of Conscience & Catholic Education and the keynote for thisf all's Diocesan Education Summit. We discuss the book and how it pertains to current issues in Catholic education. Here is the direct link to the podcast episode.
- I spoke to Shaka Rawls, the principal of Leo Catholic HS on Chicago's Southside. He is a dynamic leader of this predominantly African-American Catholic high school who describes the mission of the school as one which serves the community. Here is a direct link to the podcast.
- I talk with Greg Richmond, the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In his second year, Greg comes from the charter world and shares his unique perspective on this new position which he loves.
- This week's podcast gives us a chance to hear the perspective of a person fired from her position at a Catholic high school due to same-sex marriage.
- Season 7 kicked off with a great conversation with Rich Clark of Cleveland. He helped found a Cristo Rey High School and played a pivotal role in Partnership School's Expansion to Cleveland. Our interview was recorded on September 2nd and Rich passed away on September 20th.
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
My Last 5 Books
- Leading Change (1996 ) by John P. Kotter
The White Noise of Survivorship (2022) by Tara Rolle
On Change Management (2011) HBR's 10 Must Reads
On the Edge: Your Catholic School Guide to Student Recruitment & Retention (2013) by Daniel Horn
Jesus' Alternative Plan: The Sermon on the Mount (2022) by Richard Rohr
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.