I took a little extra time this summer before publishing the first issue of the eNewsletter. I thought the extra time would allow me to better articulate my thoughts & feelings regarding the ugly revelations which have plagued the American Catholic Church. But I can’t. We are still in the middle of this mess and can’t undo years of dysfunction and cover-ups in a few months.
One of the best books I read this summer was Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads (2016) by Tim Wu. He describes that the battle for our attention is playing out every day and explains the fascination many people have with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. As leaders, we are challenged to make our calendars match our priorities. Are we spending time on what’s important? To that end, let me direct your attention away from the ugliness in order to offer a path toward better leadership.
These are the best articles and links I came across this summer:
- “If Strategy is so important, why don’t we make time for it?” in HBR. It’s a great reflection on the problem we all face. Are we spending time doing what we know we need to do? Pair this article with “Strategic Thinking—Exercises & Tools for Creatie Thinking & Strategy” in brainzooming.com.
- “To overcome your insecurity, recognize where it really comes from” in HBR. Leaders are often unwilling to admit their own insecurity or are unsure what to do with it. This article made me uncomfortably reflective.
- “Training compassion ‘muscle’ may boost brain’s resilience to others’ suffering” from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Haven’t you ever wondered how you teach (in the sense of how you do something like throw a pitch or write an essay) compassion?
- Bishop McElroy describes Pope Francis’ pastoral vision in a kenote address to the Association of US Catholic Priests
- “How the Pursuit of Happiness Made Us Nervous Wrecks” from Wharton/UPenn. The anxiety epidemic doesn’t begin and end with our students!
- “As Catholic Options Dwindle, Middle Class Retreats from Private Schools” is a must read for every Catholic leader, board member, and especially every finance council member. We are losing the middle class in our Catholic schools!
- “School without grade levels?” in Hechinger Report. This is a great study of how multiage classrooms are proving effective (again) and are catching on—and not just because of enrollment reasons.
- “’Go to the Margins’: Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ visits ACE” is a great message that we should all heed.
- “Deductive vs. Inductive Reasoning: Making Smarter Arguments, Better Decisions, and Stronger Conclusions” from the Farnam Street Blog (one of the weekly blogs I faithfully read). This is a great example of the quality of articles which help you think about thinking. Another great example was this summer’s “The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything.” I thought about this process for a month or more.
- Archbishop Hunthausen passed away this summer. A Montana native and former bishop in Helena, he was the last living American Bishop to sit for all 4 sessions of Vatican II. Bishop Thomas provided a homily for the Stational Mass in Helena and Mike Ryan provided a colorful and poignant homily in Seattle. It’s a remarkable collection for a remarkable prelate.
- “What Happened When the Dean’s Office Stopped Sending Emails After Hours” is a great reflection on productivity and respecting people’s non-work hours. Do you send emails to colleagues after working hours? If so, read this.
- “How do you improve schools? Start by coaching principals, says new study” in chalkbeat.org. We need to move beyond a compliance model and to a formation model.
- Jack Peterson of Managing for Mission provides a toolbox of materials for Board Formation & Governance.
- “Creating Culture” by Andy Dunn in Medium was a concise and clear way to understand the way we build our school cultures. One of our great principals here in Montana has listed giving positive notes to teachers as a goal for this year in order to strengthen his school’s culture.
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry, I’ve decided to only publish a newsletter every other week. So I want to make sure you have enough reading material for two weeks!
Another change this year is the podcast. I’m calling it the “Catholic School Matters Radio Hour” and running multiple guests and segments this year. This Wednesday, the first episode of Season 3 will drop and will include a conversation with Dr. Kevin Baxter, the outstanding superintendent in the Archdiocese of LA, Rocco Palmo, the uber-blogger about bishops and the church, the dynamic April Garcia from ACE, and two outstanding presenters from this fall’s CLS, Dr. Jennifer Bigelow, the superintendent of Arlington, and Dr. Tara Rolle from the Drexel Schools in San Jose.
Another new feature is that I’m trying to put together scenarios/case studies for Catholic leadership. What are the moral challenges we face as Catholic school leaders? I’ve written a few and will be sharing one each month and asking folks to submit their examples to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m also going to try doing a virtual book club. This month, I’m encouraging folks to read Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson. Dr. Ericsson has agreed to come on the podcast so he’ll be a guest in early October and I’ll take questions from you! Stay tuned.