Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

March 15, 2015

Modeling & Mentoring

In schools, we should always try to put students first. Our decisions and behaviors should work to support student learning. Adults should model the behaviors that lead to success. But there is confusion about which behaviors are needed. Schools often focus on compliance to rules and work ethic as the most essential traits. I argue that there are traits of mindset and outlook which are more important.

Those of us in schools can tend to have a chronological view of mindsets and maturity. The younger students need to grow the most through elementary school, the high school students are approaching maturity, and the adults have matured. From my perspective, all of us struggle with the same mindsets and until we realize that we share the same struggles, we won’t be able to support student success.

What do students of all ages struggle with? Demands on their time and their attention. They can’t control their time, do what they want, and there’s never enough of what they want. Too many rules! Teachers are control freaks! And those parents don’t know what they’re talking about! There can see themselves as victims and their economy as scarce—never enough time, never enough freedom, never enough (fill in the blank).

When I became a principal, I realized that teacher complaints sounded a lot like student complaints: no control over their activities, not enough time, not enough resources, lack of freedom, too many meddlesome parents, and the burden of school rules. And those principals don’t know what they’re talking about! I thought it ended there.

When I become a superintendent, it was déjà vu. I realized that complaints from principals sounded familiar: no control over their activities, not enough time, not enough resources, lack of freedom, meddlesome parents, and the burden of Diocesan rules. And that superintendent doesn’t know what he’s talking about! And the trend continues because now I hear my fellow superintendents complain about not enough time, not enough support, not enough money, meddling bishops, etc.

If we want to help our students succeed, we (the adults) need to model better behavior. We need to quit complaining and focus less on the resources we don’t have. Instead, we should focus on becoming more gracious, optimistic, and resourceful.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Sunday: return flight to Helena from Philly

Monday: Chancery meetings (Great Falls)

Tuesday: Missoula meetings

Wednesday: Billings School Board (Billings) & Butte Central Advisory Council (phone)

Thursday: return to Helena; Helena meetings

Friday: office (Helena)

This week: 3,202 miles

Last week: 3,122 miles

2014-15: 34,787 miles

Notes for Principals

  • We currently have two principal openings for next year: De La Salle Blackfeet School (Browning) and St. Mary's (Livingston)
  • Mark the dates for the New Teacher Retreat August 17th (beginning at 10 am) through 6 pm on August 18th. The retreat is designed for new teachers, not just first-year teachers. On August 18th, the principals will meet. We will meet at the Ursuline Centre in Great Falls and Roy Petitfils (national speaker) and Doug Tooke (the Diocese of Helena Faith Formation Director) will be presenting.
  • The agenda for the principal regional meetings (Mar 23rd @ St. Labre, Mar 24th @ Great Falls, Mar 25th @ MIssoula):
  • 1. School Updates (3-5 minutes on your successes & challenges)
  • 2. WCEA Action Plan updates (3-5 minutes each school)
  • 3. Teacher evaluation process
  • 4. Principal evaluation process
  • 5. Whizfish school app presentation
  • 6. Smarter Balanced testing
  • 7. NCEA dues
  • 8. Asbestos manual (bring to discuss)
  • 9. Title I & II monies
  • 10. religion curriculum update
  • 11. Formation of Diocesan School Boards

Montana Catholic Schools

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

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Educational Leadership

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Chrome Extensions for Teachers:

iPads in elementary grades:

Word Walls:

Google tools for your classroom:


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