Editor’s Letter, Winter 2017: Supporting Families in Faith

As we prepare for the Christmas season, we are reminded of the gift of a faith-based educational experience. As Catholic teachers, it is imperative that we support families in the journey of faith formation. In this issue, Sr. Patricia McCormack’s article titled “Back-Door Evangelizing for Parking Lot Parents” shares reasons why families rely on the parish or Catholic school for primary faith formation.

Sr. Pat provides examples of “backdoor evangelizing” opportunities as stepping stones to engage or re-engage families in faith instruction, highlighting a parish game night with vocabulary games and a “Mary Marathon” to support families as missionary facilitators in the community.

I am particularly excited about the Parent and Teacher Support Tips, titled “Eight Keys to Self-Reliance.” As the mother of two sons who completed their early childhood years in a Montessori environment, I believe promoting self-reliance at a young age develops autonomous decision-makers. I vividly remember my older son’s teacher reminding us that our then three-year-old could do so much more than we were allowing him! His teacher’s advice helped us learn how to support our son as he grew as an autonomous problem solver. For example, she challenged us to put the onus back on our son when he had conflicts with his brother. As teachers, it is important to remember how much you can support a family in developing self-reliance and autonomy in children.

I was drawn to Grace Huang’s article, “Connecting with Difficult Students,” about the demands of working with students who exhibit challenging behavior. Her emphasis on making personal connections with students and talking with them individually remains key to improving student success in the classroom, and her point about finding the “wow” factor is a game changer when working with distraught or distracted students. You’ll find her example about bananas both hysterical and memorable!

As an instructor of a course preparing middle-school educators at Assumption College, I was taken by the article about
relationship readiness written for middle-school students. It probes their thinking about key attributes of having strong, faith-filled relationships with peers. Middle-school students often struggle as their peer interactions demand increased complexity, yet they have not been coached on how to navigate these changes. The article provides a series of questions designed to probe students on their relationship skills.

Many blessings this season,
Dr. Lisa D’Souza