In honor of Catholic Schools Week, today I'm sharing the many blessings that come with teaching at a Catholic school!
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The staff meets for prayer before the school day. Students start the day in prayer. I start every class with prayer (in Spanish). The school day ends in prayer. Do I need to explain why this is awesome?
Integrating faith & content
Spain and Latin America have such rich Catholic history and culture. In fact, I learned so much about the Church and Saints in my many Latin American history classes in college (and I didn't go to a Catholic college). We had to learn and speak about them objectively, but I don't have to teach that way, I can openly share the beauty of the faith and my pride in my Catholic heritage while teaching these things. Amazing!
A family environment
Although this certainly isn't the case with all Catholic schools, the one I work at is a preK-8 school which gives it an incredible "family" feel. There are some families that have kids in preK, elementary, and middle school. The children get to interact with various age groups. Each class is paired with another class, so younger students have role models and older students have the chance to step up and be leaders to the younger ones. And step up they do! Seeing the 8th graders take preschoolers to Mass is incredible. You can see the most chatty 8th graders teaching their preschoolers about the important of being quiet. They teach them to genuflect. It's precious.
The students are great. They are polite and well-behaved (for the most part!). Most students realize what a gift their education is and they show a lot of appreciation for teachers, staff, and the education process. One of the best things about these students though is that they are INNOCENT! The middleschoolers don't date. At the school dance, no one is left out during slow dances, everyone has a partner and they switch it up each time. They get to be kids without pressure to grow up.
In nearly every education class I took, I was warned to stay away from the teachers lounge because it would be a hotbed of negativity. I can't speak for all schools, but this definitely isn't the case at mine! I love having lunch with the other teachers because they are so encouraging. Lunch is time to talk about families, bounce around ideas for helping students who struggle, and supporting one another through difficulties. There is no cattiness amongst the faculty. What a blessing!
Freedom to teach
I am trusted as a professional to develop lesson plans that best fit the needs of my students. I do have standards that I have to teach, but I don't have to follow a pacing guide. I can decide when and how I teach the content to my students. Of course, my teaching is evaluated and I am held to high standards as a teacher, but I have the freedom to teach, I don't have to teach to a test and I don't have to follow strict guidelines.
I get to end every work week at Mass with my students. The school Mass is amazing. Students (including preschoolers) are so well-behaved and reverent. The lectors, choir, and altar servers are all students. It's the only time I get to daily Mass and it's just wonderful.
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