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Posted in Module 6

How God Invites Us to Grow

In module 5 we read the Stages of faith written by James Fowler. The article, grow.jpg describes his model. For the reading in module 5 I reflected mostly on myself, my own faith and what stage I currently am at. This time, I read How God Invites Us to Grow keeping my students in mind.

This article outlines in an understandable manor the ways in which people are affected by their faith. It was especially pertinent to read because it helps me better understand the ways that faith develop and therefore different ways in which I can guide students through their own development. These elements are important to consider in schools to not only help us understand our students but to also allow the students to better understand their own faith.

In todays society students are faced with more and more peer pressure and it is essential that students are able to develop their own personal faith based on their own thoughts and beliefs without being influenced by what others say or do. By gaining deeper meaning through Scripture, students will be able to create a personal connection and allow their faith to develop.

Something I found particularly interesting in this article is when it states that interfaith shouldn’t be seen as a threat and more as “an opportunity for new understanding. Recognition of the sisterhood and brotherhood of all people also intensifies one’s commitment to the well-being of all humankind.” This is a important lesson to teach students because it reminds us to respect everyone, especially in a country like Canada where multiculturalism is so prevalent. Furthermore, it allows us to see the similarities between different religions and cultures in a manor that brings people together.

 

 

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Posted in Module 6

Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teaching

Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teaching

It was interesting and enlightening to read The 10 Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teaching. In this article William J. Byron states “many Catholics do not adequately understand that the social teaching of the Church is an essential part of Catholic faith.” The importance of learning these social teachings in order to truly understand and exemplify the values and beliefs of the Catholic church is even more essential for us as educators. According to Byron, the 10 building blocks are the following: Human Person, Human Life, Association, Participation, Preference for the Poor Solidarity, Stewardship, Subsidiarity, Equality and Common Good.

The building blocks Byron lists can be rearranged or have a different tittle, the essential message of each one is what we need to take away from this reading. They are significant for us as teachers and for our students to help us understand more about the catholic faith, thus bringing us closer to God. I found it great that he highlighted the main teachings of the Catholic faith. We could easily integrate any of these building blocks into our curriculum. I think it would be fascinating to make each one of these building blocks a “Big Idea” that changes each month.

For example, from the first building block Byron listed, “The Principle of Human Dignity” he states that, “Every person–regardless of race, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, employment or economic status, health, intelligence, achievement or any other differentiating characteristic–is worthy of respect.” In the month of September, the “Big Idea” could be Dignity or Respect. This is a great way to start the year showing students, right from the beginning, the importance of how we treat others.

These building blocks are certainly values we can teach our students to carry on even outside of the classroom and the school. It will teach them to find ways to bring their Catholic faith within their community and around the world. School already raise money to help the less fortunate, this is another example of one of Byrons building block, “The Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable”. Linking these types of activities, that we already do, will create a deeper bond for the students with their faith and helping them truly understand what it means to be Catholic.

Posted in Module 5

Stages of Faith Development

According to James Fowler, there are seven “stages” or types of faith. These stages “attempt to describe the way faith generally develops, but do not prescribe how faith must or should develop in any individual.” It is a gradual process, that happens along the continuum, as an individual grows and matures. In other words, you can move from one stage to the next however, a certain situation may cause you to return to the previous stage.

The first stage is primal faith which occurs in young children (birth to age 3). “This stage establishes a fundamental but pre-conscious disposition which will eventually enable the child to believe that there is a God who loves and cares for them.” I personally don’t remember this stage however; I do know my dad use to read a Bible for kids before bed.

The second stage is imaginative faith which occurs between the ages of 4 and 8. This stage is a blind trust in their family’s belief. It is based solely on what the parents say and do. I grew up in a Catholic house hold and that was where my foundation started.

The third stage is literal faith which occurs between the ages of 6 and 12. At this stage, children become less naïve and begins to think critically. This is where they begin to create their own image of God “as something like a divine superhero” that “create order and justice”. I remember at that age, my parents use to always tell me to be good because God was watching and he sees everything. Which led me to believe Santa Clause was God because “he knows when you’ve been bad or good” and I would get presents if I was good for Christmas!

The fourth stage is conventional faith which occurs at the age of 13 and older. At this point in a child’s life, the need to belong and be accepted among peers and friends has great importance to them.  God is now seen “as an authority figure, like a judge […].”  Around the age of 20 the fifth stage occurs, personal faith. They describe this stage “as a period of rebellion or withdrawal” In my case, I feel like the fourth and the fifth stage became meshed together. When my friends became more important to me, no one seemed to be religious. It was seen as “not cool” which drew me away from God. The older I got, the more I worked on the weekend, the less I went to Church and the further I got. In the last couple of years, I started to face more difficult situations and found myself talking to God. I could see how they would say some young adults refer to it as “spiritual but not religious.” Upon deeper self-reflection of writing this assignment, I think this is where I am currently at and making my way to the next stages.

The sixth stage is mystical faith which occurs in some adults around the age of 30. They are aware of God as the Holy spirit, of his presence in everything around them.  The last stage is rare and may occur after middle age. “The rare individuals who reach this level live lives of totally self-less love, uncompromised by concerns for personal status, comfort or security.” This last stage made me think about my grandparents in Lebanon. The way their entire life is centered around God and their faith.

It is clear to me that it is impossible for me to share all my experiences that linked me from one stage to another but as you can see, I can relate closely to them. Reading this article and self-reflecting on my faith has been fulfilling. I know my journey in my faith is still ongoing and I can’t wait to see where it brings me.

Bibliography

Stages in Faith Development. (2016). Waterloo Catholic Faith Formation Commission. Retrieved 16 October 2016, from http://waterloocatholics.org/stages-in-faith-development

Posted in Module 5

The Encyclical of Pope John Paul II

I choose to read the Encyclical of Pope John Paul II. It was fascinating to read a kind of letter concerning Catholic doctrine, sent by the Pope himself. I feel as though it allowed me to gain new insight into Catholic faith more importantly, new insight I will be able to pass on to students.eucharist1

This particular Encyclical discussed the importance of the Eucharist. It taught me what the Eucharist mean within our faith and how it stands as the heart of the church. Pope John Paul II states “It is this fruit of a transfigured existence and a commitment to transforming the world in accordance with the Gospel which splendidly illustrates the eschatological tension inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Christian life as a whole: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).” He continues to discuss its profound relationship with Mary because she is directly related to the Eucharist. I had never thought of Mary having such a large relationship and affect that the Eucharist would have on the church as a whole. He finishes the Encyclical illustrating the Eucharist as a mystery that we must experience. “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church’s mission, every work of pastoral planning, must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery and in turn be directed to that mystery as its culmination.”

This reading helped me discover the importance of  in the church and that I must transmit this message to my students. As a primary teacher, it is possible that I have students who will be having their first communion and it is crucial that they understand the important the communion. I can use insight from the reading to explain to my students the true meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice and further understanding of the true meaning of the Eucharist, bringing them closer to God.

Posted in Module 4

How to Understand the Bible

In module 3, I discussed one way to promote Catholic identity within our classrooms and schools was to continue to seek personal growth for our own spirituality and faith even as adults. Reading this article made me think about that point further. This article states that it “unlocks the hidden secrets of understanding the Bible for yourself.” Which made me think about how the last time I went to a Bible study was when I was a child. The article reminded me that The Bible contains “the most difficult and controversial topics imaginable, yet they agree. They do not contradict one another.” Which made me realize I should study these controversial topics now as an adult in order to better understand.

One of the questions that stuck out to me the most was “If God is so good, why is the world such a mess?” This is a question I myself have always struggled with. I often forget to rely on the word of God to answer these types of question. As a Catholic educator, I must keep this in mind because it is my responsibility to teach this to my students. This will certainly affect my future vocation because at times I will be faced with difficult situations or students will come to me with difficult questions and I must remember to rely on the words of God. “God’s Word is like a flashlight. When you are in a dark place, the flashlight’s beams penetrate the darkness, providing light on the path ahead. The Bible enlightens our understanding.” We must therefore learn ourselves to understand the Bible in order for us to teach our students to understand.

Bibligraphy

Lesson 1 – How to Understand the Bible. (2016). Itiswritten.com. Retrieved 14 October 2016, from http://www.itiswritten.com/search-for-certainty-lesson-1-how-to-understand-the-bible

Posted in Module 3

FULLY ALIVE: FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION

The current document we use is the Ontario Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document, Grades 1-8: Family Life Education. This document can be used to integrate family life education “with aspects of learning from other areas of the curriculum.” (Institute for Catholic Education for the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, Toronto, 2012) This document is what we as teachers need to refer to in order to identify the expectations for each grade. The curriculum is organized into 5 strands, (1) Created and Loved by God, (2) Living in Relationship, (3) Created Sexual: Male and Female, (4) Growing in Commitment and (5) Living in the World.

fully-aliveFully Alive is a Family Life Education program that mirrors the Ontario curriculum. It intends “to pass on a distinctively Catholic view of human life, sexuality, marriage, and family.” as does the Ontario curriculum, by encouraging students “to become the people God wants them to be — to be fully alive.” (“Fully Alive – Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario”, 2013) This program mirrors the curriculum with the same five themes. What I loved most about this program is the way in which it promotes parents’ involvement. It states that the learning experiences the students have at home are informal lessons and that parents can use the Fully Alive program as a source of advice, encouraging parents to have faith in themselves, in their children, and in God who is always with them.

This will relate to my future vocation because it helped me see the importance between the school, the church and the home. Connecting these three placed will foster a better learning experience for our students. At times we are faced with challenging subjects for students at such a young age and Fully Alive is a great resource that teaches us how to make appropriate connections accordingly to the students’ grade level.

tribes trail.gifLast year I took a course on Tribes Learning Community. Reading more on Fully Alive, I imagined how I could pair both resources together in building a classroom community that promotes inclusiveness, human growth and learning experiences for my students. The goal of Tribes TLC is to engage all teachers, administrators, students, and families in working together as a learning community to support and participate in the learning experiences of all students. This is why Fully Alive made me think about Tribes TLC because it promotes involvement from everyone in the community. I plan on integrating the two programs in my future classroom.

 

Bibliography

Fully Alive – Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. (2013). Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario. Retrieved 14 October 2016, from http://acbo.on.ca/fully-alive/

Institute for Catholic Education for the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, Toronto,. (2012). Ontario Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document, Grades 1-8: Family Life Education (pp. 1-17). Toronto: Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.

Tribes, A. & Schools, T. (2016). Tribes Learning Community – A New Way of Learning and Being Together. Tribes Learning Community. Retrieved 14 October 2016, from http://tribes.com/

Posted in Module 3

Identifying Catholic Identity

catholic-identity-strategy-iconIn the school Catholic identity is always being promoted. We start our day with a morning prayer after the national anthem and say a prayer before we eat at lunch. In addition, we attend mass as a school community once a month, and there are displays, pictures and often a religious table where items, such as the bible, can be found. However, all those components are a small fraction of what promotes Catholic Identity in our classroom. It is our responsibility as teachers to complement those things. After doing a little bit of research on what others think on this topic, one blog really stuck with me. Melley explains that “a school’s Catholic identity flourishes when teachers model faith regardless of the subjects they teach.” (Melley, 2016) In fact, it can’t just be the religion teacher that models Catholicism. When I look back I my education and the different teachers I had, some interactions were more meaningful and stronger than others.  Therefore, it is important that we all use our various passions to inspire and bring passion to our various fields and excite Catholic learnings.

As a future teacher, I like to look back on the different ways my teachers use to promote Catholic identity within my classrooms and try to use them in my classroom. It is important to keep in mind that we will use different methods depending on the age group of the students in your class. One method we can continuously no matter the age group is by finding ways to integrate Catholic educations into your other teaching subjects creating cross-curricular connections. When we make cross-curricular connections the student has a deeper learning experience where the heart, mind, body and soul are engaged and the subject becomes applicable in their every day life.

Another one of my teachers use to begin the day with a quote from Scripture based on the virtue of the month. We would have a small discussion on the quote at the beginning of class keeping in mind how we can use what we learned throughout the day. This teacher would also you the virtue of the month as her big idea in her lessons.

Additionally, it would be great to decorate the school in spiritual artwork from each grade and the artwork could change depending on the different celebration such as Christmas and Easter. This artwork could even help decorate the gym or the perish where mass is held. This will help foster a positive relationship among the students and church by making them feel involved. With that being said, another idea would be to have the masses led by students, inviting the students into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

On a larger scale, something I did when I was in high school was I participated in an international mission program in the Dominican Republic. Pope Francis’s words were brought to our attention, that “It is not enough to offer someone a sandwich unless it is accompanied by the possibility of learning how to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that leaves the poor person as he is, is not sufficient. True mercy, the mercy God gives to us and teaches us, demands justice, it demands that the poor find the way to be poor no longer.” The trip we made to the Dominican paid for our flight there and the opportunity for one student to go to university. Living by the words of Pope Francis, we might have played a small part in the community but because of us twelve students were able to go to university that year bringing the possibility to find a way out of poverty. This experience in the Dominican was life changing for me and it would only be appropriate to share my experience with my students. It’s also important to remember that we as teachers can seek personal growth for our own spirituality and faith even as adults. Melley also says, “As adults we must relearn who God is and encounter anew the treasures of our tradition. This is a natural step in the life of an educator.” By keeping a sense of connection between myself, the church and the school, I believe I can promote a Catholic identity within my classrooms and my school.

How can we ensure we are continuously learning and developing our own Catholic identity as teachers?

Bibliography

Melley, K. (2016). Every Classroom Alive with Faith. Todays Cathohlic Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.catholicteacher.com/every-classroom-alive-with-faith/