Catholic School Matters

October 9, 2016

Daring Greatly

One of the best books I’ve read in quite some time is Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. The book far surpassed my expectations and engaged me wholeheartedly. It challenged me to rethink my behavior and perspective. Three discussions in the book are particularly applicable to education: the scarcity mindset, gender roles, and wholehearted parenting. The scarcity mindset examines how in our culture there is a feeling of “never enough.”


We never seem to be good enough as teachers, parents, children, consumers, etc. Comparison dominates and we all share of fear of being ordinary and average.


From 9/11, multiple wars, and the recession, to catastrophic natural disasters and the increase in random violence and school shootings, we’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced them as tauma…Worry about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too mcuah, and rather than coming together to heal…we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats. (27)


Nostalgia also functions to feed the scarcity mindset because the present is never as good as the present. This scarcity mindset breeds perfectionism as we try to gather resources (or “likes” on Facebook and Instagram) in any way we can. We can’t let perfectionism become the enemy of good, however. We must not allow the scarcity mindset, nostalgia, and perfectionism infect our students, our teachers, and our schools. Can we find ways to breed contentment?


Brown discussed gender roles and how shame—which she defines as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”—manifests itself in women and men. Women are taught to be perfect in everything they do. Men are taught to be strong and never to show weakness. Not exactly groundbreaking, right? But when put into the context of the scarcity mindset, Brown’s analysis gains insight. For proof, read this article on Urban Meyer’s struggle with health issues while trying to be a successful coach and father.


Brown’s writing soared during the “Wholehearted Parenting” section. Substitute “teacher” for “parent” in this section and you’ll be reading one of the most insightful discussions on successful teaching. This section is eminently quotable. No need for analysis here, I will present Brown’s writing:


· “The question isn’t so much ‘Are you parenting the right way?’ as it is: ‘Are you the adult you want your child to be?’” (217)

· “If we want our children to love and accept who they are, our job is to love and accept who we are.” (219)

· “If we struggle with being, living, and looking absolutely perfect, we might as well line our children up and slip those little perfection straightjackets right over their heads…Perfectionism is teaching them to value what other people think over what they think or how they feel.” (222)

· “We need to separate our children from their behaviors. As it turns out, there’s a significant difference between ‘you are bad’ and ‘you did something bad.’” (224)

· “Shame is so painful for children because it is inextricably linked to the fear of being unlovable. For young children who are still dependent on their parents for survival—for food, shelter, and safety—feeling unlovable is a threat to survival. It’s trauma.” (225)


Notice how her challenge to parents (and teachers) isn’t placed on the mantle of the child. It’s up to parents! The challenge to me isn’t how to shape and manipulate my children’s behavior to promote compliance. It’s how to become the adult I want them to become.


We need to challenge the scarcity mindset, the emphasis on perfectionism, the traditional gender behavior patterns, and we need better parents and teachers. Daring Greatly will help you reexamine those paradigms in your life.


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

Big image

"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Last Monday, Episode #4 dropped and included an interview with Dr. Martin Scanlan of Boston College about two-way immersion in Catholic schools. Tomorrow (Monday, Oct 10th) my interview with St. Labre Executive Director Curtis Yarlott drops. Curtis speaks about the success of the St. Labre Indian School network and its special mission to children on the margins.


Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

Big image

RIP Joyce DeCrane

Joyce DeCrane, the longtime teacher's aide at St. Charles Mission School, passed away peacefully Tuesday. She was a popular and powerful presence at the school and will be missed. Her obituary.

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena)

Tuesday: Billings meetings

Wednesday: St. Jude WCEA visit (Havre) & OLL meeting (Great Falls)

Thursday: office (Helena)

Friday: UGF Board meeting (Great Falls)

Saturday: St. Charles Mission School 125th Anniversary (Pryor)


This week: 1,447 driving miles

Last week: 5,256 air miles

2016-17: 10,302 driving miles; 7,416 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen.
  2. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (finished)
  3. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  4. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  5. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  6. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  7. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  8. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. NCEA has accounced a corporate partnership with the Pacific Institute (TPI) which is a global consulting firm dedicated to mindset formation. They will be offering a series of online webinars to school leaders. Here is a signup link. I highly recommend TPI.
  2. For the Professional Development Days on Oct 20th & 21st, here are directions to Billings Central HS (Thursday) and St. Andrew School (Friday). The program starts at 9 am each day and will include coffee and rolls. There will not be a served lunch so attendees should plan accordingly. The program should end by 3 pm.
  3. Montana Catholic Schools now has a new Facebook page.
  4. Last week, the Great Falls Task Force presented this proposal to Bishop Warfel, who approved it and then sent it to the two school pastors for approval.
  5. I have sent out information for the annual NCEA data collection based on our October 1st count. Please fill out the online forms by October 24th.
  6. There have been a few changes for scheduled principal meetings this fall and spring. Make sure to check out the new calendar. The latest change is that the Pryor regional meeting has now been moved to November 15th.
  7. On the Horizon:

American Catholic News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Instruction

Miscellaneous