As We Learn, They Learn



As We Learn, They Learn

Deirdre Kinsella Biss


By Deirdre Kinsella Biss
Editor, Principal Connections

With the upcoming release of the latest issue of Principal Connections magazine, Editor Deirdre Kinsella Biss provides a sneak preview of what you can expect.  

Welcome to the winter publication of Principal Connections. In this issue, we shine a spotlight on the important role that Catholic principals and vice-principals have in helping students develop and contribute to humanity.

Traditionally, global human development has been measured by literacy development, poverty rates and financial sustainability. But human development goes well beyond academic achievements, health and income. Our students need to develop the necessary values, skills and attitudes for dialogue, collaboration and cooperation in order to live peacefully and lovingly within a community. At the heart of it, students must learn to exercise acceptance of one another. In its most profound sense, then, human development is at the core of Catholic education.

Our Catholic Graduate Expectations recognize the importance of shaping the whole person and nurturing humanity in our students. In his article Developing Humanity by Developing the Person, Michael Pautler, Director of the Institute for Catholic Education, highlights the importance of bringing the faith tradition to societal conversations.

Authentic dialogue creates deeper understanding of each other. In her article, Celeste Headlee, TEDTalker and TV show host, shares her message about the importance of having good conversations. She reminds us of “conversational competence” and the need to work on developing true listening skills. Presence to one another starts by listening.

Our students need to develop the necessary values,
skills and attitudes for dialogue, collaboration and cooperation
in order to live peacefully and lovingly within a community. 

In New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, Michael Fullan identifies the need for students to engage in deep learning. He shares insights about fostering knowledge building and learning between and among students, teachers, schools and community partners. Catholic school leaders from Ottawa, Ben Vallati and Laurie Dilabio, illuminate Michael Fullan’s thinking by sharing their story of how deep learning pedagogies help develop humanity in their schools.

Dr. Jean Clinton addresses the significance of connecting and engaging with students. She calls children “at promise” not “at risk,” and she identifies the most powerful attribute in the school – the educator who engages children “at promise.” Clinton challenges us to look at the environments we create in our schools and to pay special attention to the engagement we see in the eyes of our children.

Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian, Jean Vanier, sees developing humanity as a story of mutual growth. In his feature article, he writes about the values and attitudes necessary to become more human together. He also highlights the need for us to be present to each other in a tender and vulnerable way, and he reminds us that we become “more human together” by allowing ourselves to be transformed by those we teach.

As we approach Christmas, let us reflect on our students and the wonderful things they are capable of doing. Let us help them develop their own humanity and encourage them to have a sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others. Our children will show us the way.

We are called to serve our students. As our children learn from us, we learn from them too.

Merry Christmas, everyone.