Virtual professional development focuses on “Open Wide Our Hearts”, culturally-responsive teaching

Educators at a virtual professional development conference

Along with teaching, Catholic school educators also spend considerable time on their own learning. A recent virtual professional development day is just one example.

On Oct. 25, teachers examined the U.S. bishops’ recent pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts”. They reflected on the pastoral letter as it relates to culturally-responsive teaching, the concept of considering all students’ cultural backgrounds in our instruction. This professional development also connects with our ongoing study of Theology of the Body, a rich teaching on what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness.

Related: Teachers embark on studying Theology of the Body

The day involved online modules which included discussing personal reflections and classroom responsibility to teach about the evils of racism. Additionally, St. Paul the Apostle Principal Michelle Morrow led introductory-level explorations of culturally-responsive teaching as described by researcher Zaretta Hammond. Learning how to consider students’ different cultural norms is helping shape how we teach inquiry-based strategies involving critical thinking and problem solving skills.

As Catholic school teachers, we are blessed to take on this work through a Catholic lens. Continued formation in both faith and educational practice prepares us for nurturing the whole child: mind, body and soul.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are an alliance of 31 vibrant learning communities (26 elementary and five high schools) serving more than 6,340 preschool through 12th grade students throughout West Michigan. Our schools inspire young people to grow in Catholic faith and grace, achieve more in school and life, develop creativity and character, and feel welcomed and cherished for their unique gifts. We partner with parents to awaken the whole child to a world of light and life — that grows better and brighter when children reach their potential.

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