As we strive to position our Catholic schools for greater academic excellence and long term financial stability, strategic planning is an essential tool. While we need to maintain the essence and heart of Catholic education, we must also adopt the best of modern practice and pedagogy, with a spirit of innovation that can help us to best serve the young people entrusted to our care.
One of the major innovations that we have embraced in our educational mission is the use of “personalized blended learning”. Simply put, this model blends traditional classroom instruction with an online diagnostic set of tools that allow teachers to understand the mechanics of how each student learns (personalized approach), allowing the teacher to give direct assistance in those areas that a student may find challenging, all the while allowing the same student to excel in areas that he or she can understand easily.
In the past, traditional classroom instruction tried to engage all students. However, what actually happened was that students who easily mastered the materials being taught got bored and those who could not understand were left behind. Web-based diagnostic programming now allows teachers to know exactly what a student may understand well, what is difficult for the same student and pinpoints the materials needed to help the student to overcome the difficulties. This innovation has been adopted throughout the country and we are introducing it into our schools with the hope of unlocking the full potential of every student.
An image comes to mind that can simply explain this innovation. If we are driving on a highway and we encounter potholes, our travel is slowed and difficult. If the potholes are filled, then we can travel as fast as the law allows. So too with education, for if the individual challenges or difficulties experienced by students are likened to potholes, then the more we can see them and “fill them in” for each student, the faster he or she can learn.
Change is never easy. We live in a world where change occurs at a faster and faster rate. True innovation in Catholic education does not make change for change sake but does so for the good of the students entrusted to our care.
The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos!