The fifteenth Ethics Camp for new Catholic school teachers took place at Santa Clara University July 31--August 2. This camp focuses on moral development and character education and the implications for the entire curriculum, especially instruction in religion and school liturgical and prayer experiences. It includes demonstration of teaching strategies and positive school climate.
Fifty teachers attended the three-day workshop and reflected on their teaching practices for the upcoming school year. As noted by one of the participants, Danielle Short, “The various presenters, topics, and collaborative discussions with the colleagues provided a great deal of knowledge and perspective about what it means to be a Catholic school educator. It means teaching the whole child with a focus on weaving in faith, values, and character development into daily instruction. It means being a model of faith, integrity, and kindness. I am confident that what I learned will translate to my classroom and make a positive impact on the students I teach.” Another teacher, Christopher Goetz told us he appreciated getting a framework to “assess and intentionally plan my classroom culture, and the culture of the school as a whole.”
Character education requires kindness and compassion in the classroom. Teachers need to recognize the talents in every student as they help them grow. As Fr. Tony Mancuso reiterated to participants: “Don’t expect them to be good, help them be good.” Participants discussed in groups the core values they want to promote in their classrooms and pedagogical approaches that foster moral development. As teacher Yen Dinh noted, “Dotty McCrea's workshop on the Catholic identity reminded me to recognize the genius in each of my students [e.g., sense of humor, inventiveness, and curiosity], and give them opportunities to be heroes/heroines in the classroom.”
Ethics Camp focuses on the promotion of virtues ethics through faith formation. Teachers explore their interactions with students and presentation of moral topics from the perspective of religious and whole child development principles. A middle school science teacher, Katherine Rodriguez recognized the importance of this teacher preparation program to student learning: “My hope for this year is to create relationships with each of my 180 students built on trust that I am here to both believe in and support them socially, emotionally, spiritually and academically. I want these young scientists to graduate knowing that they can use science ethically to serve and change the world."