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Posts Tagged ‘#IBelieveinCatholicEd’

There are so many things that come at us these days that it can be easy to get caught up in the unimportant things that can distract us.  Implementing the big ideas from Habit 3 Put First Things First – Work First, Then Play can really help us to stay focused and productive. There are four key elements to this habit:

  1. Focus on the highest priorities – We want to focus in on Quadrant 2 where our priorities lie that allow us to focus on items that are important but not urgent. Our highest priorities become our “Big Rocks.”
  2. Eliminate the unimportant – As best as we can, we need to try to stay out of the not important items that are a distraction and can waste our time.
  3. Plan every week – To help focus on the priorities, we need to schedule in the Big Rocks first.  Ask yourself, “What are the one or two most important things I can do this week?”  The next step is to schedule other things around your Big Rocks. For me, I like to do this every day and make a list of the 3 Big Rocks I am choosing to focus on the next day. This video is a good illustration of how we can get make things fit if we schedule our Big Rocks first.
  4. Stay true in the moment of choice – This sounds easy to do, but is actually harder to do we are in the moment being bombarded with things. I know for myself that I can get bogged down in Q3 but having my list of Big Rocks helps me to focus back into Q1.

For the month of December, we have two Big Rocks that we are prioritizing: Wellness and Faith. Both of these are our Wildly Important Goals that are in our Continuous Improvement Plan that you can find on our website under Resources & Publications – Reports and Plans. We decided to focus on our Faith for December as we are in the season of Advent.  Our Wellness Action Team felt that the past year has been difficult and wanted to prioritize fun before the Christmas break.

In looking at fun, we decided it was important for that to apply for our whole school community: students, parents and staff. The whole month is a points blitz for team points.  Students can earn points every day they wear something Christmassy.  The more items they wear, the more points they can earn for their team.  I know I am looking forward to wearing my Christmas sweaters, shirts and my beautiful Saskatchewan Roughrider Christmas hat.  On the 10th, we have our first assembly of the year where we will get to view the talent show winners. Thanks to School Council for organizing the talent show and 5/6 BW Cohort for organizing the assembly.  Wednesday the 15th is our wonderful Christmas Dinner provided by School Council. During that week Blaze will again make an appearance at the school to deliver the class gifts that our School Council has purchased for us.  This year we chose the gift of literacy and all classes will be receiving books for their classrooms. On Thursday we are excited to have Steve Harmer present 7-30 minute magic shows to our cohorts. Steve will include the values of Love, Joy, Peace, and Hope in his Christmas show. Our final fun activity takes place on the 17th where we will once again do a whole school bingo activity.  Students who get a bingo will run down to the office to verify their bingo and to claim a prize. We know that a piece of wellness for parents is seeing their children perform. As it has been a while since we have had a concert at the school, each cohort will be posting some whole class performances for parents on Spaces or Class Dojo. The staff has been working on a performance for our school community so stay tuned to our Facebook page for our gift of joy to you. We also have some special board office guests who were unlucky enough to visit our school and were kind enough to take part in our performance.

Advent is just a natural priority for us as it is the start of the new liturgical year in the Church. We will start off the season with mass at the school organized by 5/6 HV on Thursday at 9:00. All parents are welcome to join in our Zoom Link by clicking here or by going to the google calendar on our website. The rest of our Advent celebrations will be on Mondays: 6th at 9:00 and 13th at 1:30. Our big Advent project is Coffee for a Cause.  We are selling Cuppers coffee, our STC Advent Blend, for our adopted sister school in Tanzania: Mkono Wa Mara Primary.  For every $20 bag of coffee(ground or whole) purchased, we receive $5. Coffee for a Cause orders are due by noon on Friday the 10th and you can purchase coffee on School Cash Online. Orders will be picked up at the school from 12:00 on the 16th to 12:45 on the 17th. We have committed the next three years to raise funds to help them with their needs for water storage tanks, kitchen improvement and kitchen equipment.

To learn more about the school and its needs, please watch this short video. Thank you to everyone for helping support our sister school and spreading some hope, love, joy and peace.

During this season of Advent, apply the big ideas of Habit 3. It can be easy to get lost in the commercialization of the season, the decorating and buying of presents when our priority is to focus on preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. That is the Big Rock that we need to schedule all our other activities around.

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

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The month of November is when plans are due in education which fits in with Habit 2 Begin with the End in Mind – Have a Plan. In the Alberta Education Ministry Business Plan for Education for 2021 – 2024, the Minister articulates goals for the province and then our Holy Spirit Board sets Strategic Priorities that align with the Business Plan. One of the key elements of this habit is to define outcomes before you act.  All things are created twice:  first mentally and then physically.  By defining outcomes before we act, we ensure our efforts are truly effective. We have been working on mentally and physically creating plans for the school year with staff during our learning team time and at our Professional Development Day on October 12th. We have been using The 4 Disciplines of Execution for Educators to guide us in achieving our Wildly Important Goals.  The following areas are the four pillars of our school’s improvement plan:

  1. Faith: Staff & students will grow in their faith and experience the richness of Catholic Education
    • Our focus is on spiritually growth for our school community through prayer leadership.  Through leading prayer or rosary; participating in liturgy ministry; creating prayers for announcements. Chalice or Legacy Lodge; and creating prayer cards, we are aiming to hit 2000 leadership activities for the entire school by the end of the year. 
  2. Learning: High quality instruction rooted in sound research & effective assessment practices to support growth for all learners
    • In this area we are focusing on finding and filling any gaps in numeracy and literacy skills.  For numeracy we have determined that basic number sense will be our focus.  Number sense is understanding the value of a number and how they relate to each other. We are going to look at how student progress in number sense and devise common interventions for those concepts.
    • With literacy we are going to be looking at the key skills needed for reading and how the progression that students make. We will be using Words Their Way to assess and then individualize instruction and interventions.
  3. First Nations, Metis & Inuit: First Nations, Metis and Inuit education for all
    • Our focus here is to ensure that staff and students learn about and understand five aspects of indigenous culture, history and/or traditions.  We started the year with the Legacy of Hope display to allow a better understanding of residential schools.  Working with our First Nations, Metis and Inuit support worker, our teachers will be able to better understand and infuse content into their lessons.
  4. Wellness: Foster a culture of wellness that is foundational to support learning
    • Our goal for this area is to have our students develop the skills to independently solve their problems.  Our grades 1-6 students have all been taught about Kelso’s Choices and are using this process to solve their small problems.  We will continue to develop skills and track the progress of the different choices being used by students. 

We have school goals and classes will make their own goals that we will track and celebrate throughout the year.  The next step is for our students to set their own Wildly Important Goals (WIG).  For this we will be using the SPACES portfolio platform.  Later on in the newsletter you will see our graphic for the implementation plan.  Look for your email invite to come out the week of the 15th. We will have a parent information night on the 18th and will have our goal-setting evenings on the 23 and 25 of November. Teachers will be working with students during the month to create their goals both mentally and physically.  We look forward to celebrating our goal and the learning we make throughout the year. 

God doesn’t require us to succeed. he only requires that you try.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

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September is a special month for us because the 5th is the feast day for our patron Saint: St. Teresa of Calcutta. She was known for her work with the sick and the poor, and she said many wise words throughout her life.  Many of her statements fit in quite well with the 7 Habits.  To start the year, the teachers are doing the “First 8 Days Program” and are introducing all of the habits to the students.  These are lessons centered on the different habits which involve creating a classroom mission statement and establishing classroom routines. After this, we will focus on a different habit each month and learn more about it. The following is a summary of each of the habits so that you can use the same language at home with them.

Habit 1:  Be Proactive – You’re in Charge

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind – Have a Plan

“God doesn’t require us to succeed, He only requires that you try.”

Habit 3:  Put First Things First – Work First, Then Play

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today. Let us begin.”

Habit 4:  Think Win-Win – Everyone Can Win

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”

Habit 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – Listen Before You Talk

“Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.”

Habit 6:  Synergize – Together is Better

“I can do things you cannot and you can do things I cannot.  Together we can do great things.”

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – Balance Feels Best

“Life is an adventure, live it.  Life is a game, play it.”

Along with our 7 Habits, we are going to be introducing Kelso’s Choice to our students.  Rhiece Cordes, Mental Health Capacity Building Facilitator, will be working at St. Teresa on Mondays and Tuesdays.  To start with, she will be delivering the Kelso’s Choice program to our grades 1-6 in September and to Kindergarten in October. Kelso’s Choice helps students to develop conflict resolution strategies and helps them to practice Habit 1: Be Proactive and Habit 4: Think Win-Win. Last year this program was introduced to our grades 1 and 2 students and we fell that the whole school will benefit from it too.

We do have a few more activities planned for the month of September.  We are planning a virtual Meet the Teachers Night and more information will follow on the details.  We have our opening mass on the 16th at 9:00 which will also be virtual and we will email out a link for parents to join us.  Our first School Council meeting will be on Monday the 20th at 6 pm. All parents are welcome to join us in the link sent out by email.

Let us follow the guidance of our patron Saint this month, a symbol of love and compassion, and Lead with Love.

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I did a google search on Mary to find out if she was called as a peacemaker. I found a Wikipedia page about the Titles of Mary that were more numerous that I realized. The titles differ from early titles to devotional titles to those associated with images or apparitions.  Yes, I did eventually find that in the Roman Catholic Church she has the title of Our Lady of Peace, Mother of Peace, Queen of Peace or Our Lady Queen of Peace. In this month of Mary, I wanted to talk to you about the Kelso’s Choice program we have introduced which believes that every child is capable of being a peacemaker.

Earlier in the year, we noticed that students were coming up to the adults on supervision to tell them about their problems and then the adult would solve the problem for the students.  Our school counsellor, Miss Ann Elise, suggested Kelso’s Choice conflict management skills program to us which has been effectively used at various schools for over 25 years. We wanted students to Be Proactive (Habit 1) and solve their own problems and conflict. The philosophy of the program fits well with the 7 Habits as it believes that each child is smart enough and strong enough to resolve conflict.

When students are faced with conflicts, the first step for them is to decide if it is a small or a big problem.  A big problem is one that they need adult help to solve and they can make students feel scared, worried or frightened. Examples of big problems are if someone is in danger, a student is hurt or some students are fighting. A small problem is one that students can solve on their own and they can make students feel annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed or have hurt feelings.  Small problems may be the following: not sharing a toy or equipment, pushing or cutting in line, saying you are not out when tagged or arguing about which game to play. In order to solve the problem, Kelso has a Choice Wheel where students can try out a couple of choices to solve their conflict.  If, after trying a couple of choices, the problem isn’t solved then the students can talk to an adult to help them solve it.

The choices on the wheel give both verbal and non verbal options and fit in with what we teach the students with the 7 Habits. The following are the choice the students can make to solve small problems.

Habit 1 Be Proactive: You’re in Charge

These choices remind students that they are free to choose their reactions and are responsible for themselves.  We are asking students to choose to react like water not soda.  If you shake up a water bottle then open it, nothing happens but if you do the same thing to soda, it will explode all over when the cap comes off.  These choices help students act proactively like water.

  1. Tell Them to Stop
  2. Walk Away
  3. Ignore It
  4. Go to Another Game
  5. Wait and Cool Off

Habit 4 Think Win-Win: Everyone Can Win

These choices explore the ideas of fairness and mutual benefit.  We are asking students to consider other people’s wins as well as their own. In using these choices, the students are trying to come up with solutions that benefit others as well as themselves.  They are practicing and learning how to Lead with Love.

  1. Make a Deal
  2. Apologize
  3. Talk It Out
  4. Share and Take Turns

Currently only the Grades 1 and 2 students received the Kelso’s Choice lessons and have practicing the skills.  Next year we are planning on teaching the skills to more grades in the school as we have seen success.  Now, when students come up to us with concerns, the first thing we do is ask them if this is a big problem or a small problem.  We help guide them through the process as needed instead of solving their problems.  The website has a parent page with some information so that you can use the same language at home.  You too can help them to learn to peacemakers at home.

Kelso’s Choice Wheel

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November is a month that is associated with remembrance and memories.  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, remembrance is the act of remembering and showing respect for someone who has died or an event.  It is also a memory of something that has happened in the past.

As we move into November we have three celebrations that take place right away.  On the first is the Solemnity of All Saints Day. It is celebrated by Catholics all around the world and connects us to the communion of saints.  We look to the Saints, we celebrate their lives and ask them to pray for us. Mary, also known as St. Mary the Virgin, is our patron Saint and on this day we can ask for her help in bringing our prayers to God. The next day, the second, is All Souls Day where we remember all those who have died but may not yet be in heaven.  We pray for them and ask God to take them to heaven. On that day please take a moment and say a prayer in memory of a friend or loved one or say the prayers on the prayer cards below.

On November 3rd, we celebrate Catholic Education Sunday in Alberta.  The theme from our Bishops this year is to be “United in Prayer and Grateful for Catholic Schools”. It is a reminder for us to celebrate Catholic Schools in the province and to be grateful for the gift of publicly funded Catholic education. Archbishop Smith, on behalf of all Alberta Bishops has shared a short, three-minute video message regarding Catholic Education Sunday. Please click on the Video Link to view the message.

On November 11th we remember our veterans from the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War who sacrificed for us so we could enjoy our freedoms and live in peace. To honour these men and women, we wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance and freedom. As we pause in our minute of remembrance on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month, let us not forget to pray for the men and women who have served, those who have died in service and those who are currently serving in our armed forces.  Please come join us for our Remembrance Day Celebration on the 8th at 11:00 in the gym.

Sometimes our lives can become so busy that we do not take the time to think about those who have gone before us.  Take some time on the 1,2,3 and 11 to pray, reflect and remember.

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Have you ever had events happen and then, when you reflect back on them, you realize that God was working in your life and things turned out the way they were meant to be? I have experienced this numerous times in my life; the most recent being with this message.  I had great intentions of being early and having it ready to start the week, but that did not happen.  As I sit down to write it on the last day of May, I think that God intended it to be that way so I could talk about World Catholic Education Day which we celebrated on the 30th. Each Thursday in May we have been praying together as a division for Catholic Education which culminated with a staff led Liturgy of the Word where the whole division was praying together around 11:00 am.  As I walked through the halls yesterday, I saw a bulletin board celebrating World Catholic Education Day where the students shared their thoughts about the blessings inherent in Catholic Education.  In the words of our students, I love my Catholic school because

  • I can talk about how much I love God and Jesus at school and at home.
  • We learn about God almost every day.
  • Our relationship with God can grow.
  • We can talk about God.
  • We can pray and able to talk about God.
  • We get to learn about Jesus and his many miracles.
  • We go to Church, have Religion and we learn about all of the saints.
  • We get to learn about God and strengthen my Catholic skills.
  • I am able to pray.

On World Catholic Education day, the school division and the ATA local premiered a video that they worked together to create that celebrates Catholic Education.  If you have not already seen the video Public Education:  The Catholic Way I do recommend watching it. The video is approximately twenty minutes in length and was a great way to cap off the month long celebrations.

Now that May is finished we are looking ahead to June and it is a busy nineteen days.  Teachers have been busy planning year end field trips and I am sure that the students are sure to enjoy the wide range of activities that fit in the science, social and physical education curriculum. On the 6th at 6:30 we have a parent meeting to discuss preparations for grade six camp in September. Our Kindergarten students will celebrate their accomplishments with a family celebration on the 12th at 5:30. We are also celebrating First Nations, Metis and Inuit culture with our Division Pow Wow at CCH West on the 5th at 5:30pm.  All families are invited to attend.  Our school celebration will be on the 21st where we are lining up story tellers, traditional games, dancing and smudge activities.  The last week is jam packed as we go to Henderson Pool on Monday, have sports day on Tuesday, celebrate our grade sixes at our year end Mass on Wednesday and finish the week with an assembly, slide show and talent show.

In addition to all these activities, we will be planning for next year.  We are currently working on our class configurations and teaching assignments for the fall.  Once we have this information confirmed, we will communicate it to parents and then we will start working on class lists. I will be meeting with the teachers to place students in classrooms this month.  Much deliberation goes into these assignments, such as, student needs, male/female ratio, academic balance, behaviour needs, class size, student relationships, educational assistant assignments and students new to OLA.  Parents have a wealth of knowledge about their children and if there is any information you would like to share with me about your child that will help the staff to place him or her in the best education environment possible, please contact me, stop in at the office to make an appointment or just drop in as my door is always open. Thank you for trusting us in making sound educational decisions in the placement of your child. 

To our families that are leaving us at the end of the year and to those who we are welcoming in the fall, we wish God’s blessings on you. We pray that our school community has a blessed summer vacation, and we look forward to seeing you in September.

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