Episode 4 features an interview of Fr. Donald Reilly O.S.A., D.Min., newly appointed Head of School at Malvern Preparatory School. Our R.A.D.D. letter that guides our conversation is A for Attitudes. The topics are “Building a Culture of Leadership,” “Designing a School Leadership Structure,” and “The Importance of Values in a School’s Mission.” You can connect with Fr. Donald Reilly on Twitter via @FrReilly.
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This is a guest blog post from a talented educator, Mr. Brendan D. Towell. I hope you enjoy his insights and perspectives as much as I did. We are lucky to have him on our faculty.
By: Brendan D. Towell (Theology Department)
At the end of each academic year, the student body of St. Augustine Prep has an opportunity to anonymously review their teachers. I am not so sure if the Administration ever gets reviewed by the students… but that’s a question for another day! Regardless, our reviews can be quite illuminating. I will spare you the minutia of how the process works, yet I will say that the comment section is by far the most revealing and helpful for me as an educator. I have found that affording a teenaged boy the opportunity to anonymously comment on one of his teachers results in a brutal form of honesty more helpful than any peer evaluation. Through this unfiltered honesty, I have come to find that one recurring point was how genuinely surprised the boys were to find that Theology class could actually be relevant in their lives today. Continue reading Chronological Snobbery: A reminder of the importance of a Liberal Arts Education
Lunch was over. My stomach was full. My eyes were straining to stay open, and I was going to need a cup (or an IV drip) of coffee to make it through the looming afternoon session of professional development. You know exactly what I mean— you’ve been there. My mind wandered from the PD session. The presenter then asked something that we all, educators or not, have likely been asked more than once in our adult lives. Who are your teaching heroes? Quick Kevin, think of an eloquent and engaging answer about the people in your life who cared for you, who made a difference, who pushed you to be your best…
Wow, it’s a long list.
I began to identify those who impacted me, but this time, for whatever reason, I focused on the why. In this moment, I suddenly realized how this question could help me to be the teacher that I needed when I was younger and how it could help me now to be that teacher for my students. Continue reading An IV Drip, A Brick Wall, and a Dead Man Walking
Continued from Is Consistently Crazy Good Enough? post.
Part III, of III: I am eager to know what personal milestones and struggles await me next year, whatever they may be. In the midst of them, I always want to be the educator that our students desire, and I feel certain I can accomplish this by being a consistent personality who can relate both myself and my instruction to our students.
Two weeks ago, the President of our school, an Augustinian priest, asked me if I had listened to Drake’s new songs. Wait. What? Did I mishear that? Drake? Continue reading Yes, Drake. This Drake.
“Innovation is the change that unlocks new value.” – Jamie Notter
The classroom is a sacred space. Like most educators and administrators, I believe this wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, this mentality can lead to the classroom being a closed sacred space. Just as one might feel like an outsider in a church of a different denomination, or like an alien landing in a strange, new world, classroom observations often have had a similar feel for me. I am the administrator, the interloper, in someone else’s sacred space. I have done many observations and too often, it’s the same dynamic: I am in the back of the room, the teacher is on display, the teacher is curious and/or worried about what I am thinking, and we close the cycle with a perfunctory follow-up meeting.
No one won in this experience, and I was certain there was a better way. Continue reading Unlocking New Value In Classroom Observations
We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey, Educational Theorist
As an extrovert, I rely on others, especially in the midst of struggle. My reflections and thoughts become most constructive when I share them. For me, this is never more evident than at work, and this latest challenge proved to me the importance, not just of relying on others, but the importance of relying on the right others. As I wrote yesterday, I believe that having a steadfast circle to count on is essential to successful school leadership. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 3 of 3)
What if every element surrounding the problem was off-base? What then?
At first this question seemed daunting, too daunting. I was spiraling, but I let this thought sink into my mind. Naturally, that led to other ideas and worries, but I forced myself to return to this thought again and again. What if this issue existed because every element surrounding the problem was wrong? A shaky foundation yields shaky results. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 2 of 3)
Have you ever wondered, “What are my students thinking today?” Recently, I have found myself considering this, and it leads me to more questions. Are they enjoying class? Do they feel like it’s meaningful? Are they even present in the moments in which I think learning is occurring? Is this class beneficial for them, both now and in the future? What distractions exist in my classroom that affect my students? How can I help them be present? Continue reading Today’s Lesson Plan: Do Nothing
I love to eat, but regrettably I am not a great cook. Many of my favorite childhood memories start with the smell of my aunt’s cooking at our shore house. My Aunt Eileen is one of my favorite cooks. She makes the best meals and, in particular, the best sandwiches. I often try to replicate them but always fall short. I never know exactly where I went wrong, but what I do know is that something is off. Perhaps I am rushing. Perhaps I am not using the right ingredients in the right amounts. Or perhaps something is missing. Much like my futile attempts to replicate my aunt’s sandwiches, a young man’s future success will not be fully satisfying when something is missing. Continue reading “Faith It ’til You Make It”