Cardinal Mooney Bulletin for February 7th, 2021
Dear Parents and Students,
One of the most important tasks we work on as school leaders is to figure out how to balance traditions and innovation. Especially in a Catholic school, we know the importance of being firmly rooted in our core beliefs and values, and we express them through the traditions we have developed. Yet we also know that we prepare our students for their future, and that they will need to be able to adapt to innovations.
Using technology is an area that illustrates the ever-present tension between tradition and innovation in education. Just think of the ways we have had to educate differently in the past year due to the challenges we faced to figure out how school operates in a pandemic! Mooney’s overarching goal is to teach students to think critically and creatively in order to balance tradition and innovation as they lead lives of sanctity, scholarship, and discipline, now and in their future.
One of the most precious commodities that we have as we seek that balance is time. We wrestle with the question: What is the best way to organize the hours we have together to educate the students in our care?
After serving as principal at Mooney for a year, I believe that we need to take a serious look at how we balance tradition/innovation in the opportunities we can create for both students and teachers because of how we spend our time together.
A block schedule is a unique way to organize our daily, weekly, and monthly time. Longer time together allows teachers to create innovative and engaging lessons that allow students to go deeper in their learning.
We are dedicated to having a block schedule and that deep teaching/learning experience.
There are various ways to organize a block schedule. For instance, many schools today have found that using a schedule that includes block classes but extends them over the course of a full semester or year adds a chance for teachers to lead students to learn more thoroughly the concepts and skills of the course. We owe it our community to conduct an evaluation of our current practices.
As we explore with the faculty whether our traditional arrangement of the block best fits our needs today, we are also studying our current curriculum of courses to analyze and compare it with current curriculum standards.
Here are some of the questions we are exploring:
- Does our current use of time create a student-centered school that has creative teaching and learning experiences for students throughout each period?
- Is there flexibility in our current use of time to achieve our goals in the classroom as well as to allow time for all students to seek extra help outside of class?
- Does 9 weeks for a .5 credit course or 18 weeks for a 1 credit course provide enough time for students to master a course at a deep level?
- Does our current use of time promote the social/emotional growth of students?
- Does our current use of time create opportunities for students to learn to strike a good life balance in how they use time, or does it just pre-schedule them daily?
- Does our current schedule allow time for students to meet with counselors about school issues (scheduling, college advice, etc.) or personal issues without missing class time?
- Does our current use of time create opportunities for student engagement in clubs or activities by allowing time for meetings, etc. on a regular basis? Does it allow time for leadership development for students?
- Does our current use of time allow opportunities for the spiritual growth of students outside of class instruction?
- Does our current use of time include professional learning time for teachers to collaborate within and across departments in professional learning communities?
As we continue these discussions as a faculty, we will keep you informed. There is a faculty in-service on February 26, and we will be studying answers to these questions and planning.
Watch for more information after that. We also invite students and parents to share with us any questions or thoughts you might have. Our goal is to strike that balance between traditions and innovation that is at the core of our mission at Mooney so we can serve the needs of our students today.
Mary Anne Beiting, Ed.D.