Five Steps To Happy Catholic Teachers Any School Can Follow

Five Steps To Happy Catholic Teachers Any School Can Follow

Learning How To Create Change With St. John Chrysostom.

In today’s episode we discuss five steps to happy Catholic teachers that any school can follow. I share with you a five step process from St. John Chrysostom that can help any Catholic school staff begin to become a truly happy place. The pressure of modern Catholic schools, the problems of ambition and politics can derail a sense of closeness and fraternity. The good news is that there are simple things every Catholic school can do to create a better sense of charity and common purpose. In this episode we also start our journey of exploration of Dr. Ryan Topping’s important book on Catholic education. 


Jonathan Doyle

Jonathan Doyle

Jonathan Doyle is an international speaker, author, businessman and executive coach who has spoken around the world to more than 400,000 people on topics related to personal development, peak performance, leadership, Catholic school evangelisation, relationships and much more.

His recent keynote addresses include the NCEA National Convention in St. Louis Missouri to 10,000 delegates and he is a frequent keynote speaker in the US, Asia and Europe.

He is also the founder of an influential education and media business that delivers training content to hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals around the world on a weekly basis.

Jonathan holds an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Canberra, a Masters Degree in Leadership and Management from the University of Newcastle and has also undertaken post-graduate study in philosophical anthropology.

He is the author of numerous books on relationships and peak performance and each day shares these same ideas with a large global audience via The Daily Podcast with Jonathan Doyle.

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Each chapter offers inspiring stories, clear principles and actionable steps for identifying and moving forward in study, life, friendships and each key area of life.

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Five Steps To A Happy Catholic School Staff


Well, Hey everybody, Jonathan Doyle with you. Once again, welcome friends to the Catholic teacher daily podcast. Thank you for tuning in hope you’re doing okay. Wherever you are in the great big wide world of Catholic education. Hope you’re doing okay with the COVID thing. It’s different everywhere. Uh, we’re sort of doing okay where I live.

We’ve had, we have no cases at the moment which has been great. Life’s getting, yeah. Back a little bit to normal, uh, but other parts of the country still, I mean, different forms of lockdown. What a challenge, her really challenging time. But it’s interesting. I was reading a couple of days ago. I, the latest book by Ray Dalio, who’s one of the world’s preeminent funds investors. I find his work really interesting, and he was going through a very analytical sort of breakdown of all the challenges, the global economies facing, but he made the point and he said, you know, you have to remember that humans are just the most resilient species and we do increase productivity.

We do kind of find our way out of it all sorts of challenging history, Oracle moments. So he was really, I guess, clear on the idea that we are going to come through. There’s going to be some challenging times. No doubt. And we’re all living through those at the moment, but, uh, let’s have hope. Yeah. You know, some of the, uh, the best and brightest in the world are reminding us that, uh, we’ve enjoyed all sorts of challenging seasons before, and we will enjoy this.

There’s something indomitable about the human spirit and something double, double indomitable, indomitable. When the human spirit is inspired by the Holy spirit. So have faith friends, this challenging season is going to pass. Now today. There’s a favorite that I want to share with you. I, uh, I’m always looking to recreate, redo, tweak the Catholic teacher daily podcast to bring you as much value as possible.

And today I want to share with you something from the divine office, most of you will be familiar of course, with the divine office, which is the prayer of the church. It’s the bravery, it’s the daily prayer shared by, you know, Catholic teachers and priests and religious and lay men and women all over the planet.

And today there was an interesting reading from the homilies of St. John Chrysostom. Many of you be familiar with Saint John Chrysostom, one of the most. Eloquent speakers, writers theologians in the church’s history. And this is from the homilies of st. John Chrysostom on the devil 0.6. Well, that’s what he wrote when he wrote it, but that’s what it came down to us as.

And the theme of this is called the high roads to repentance. Now, why would I be sharing this with Catholic teachers? I want to share this with you quickly because. Let’s never forget that we’re obviously living in a community of people or at a Catholic school is a community of people. Uh, you know, if we took the educators and took the teachers and the faculty out of the school, it would be a place where students are wandering around trying to find something to do.

happy catholic teachersSo it’s really the teachers that make a Catholic school. I’ve said that in so many podcasts and the churches documents reinforce it, they talk about the sort of environment of a Catholic school, the very, uh, all the things. For things that make up an environment. There’s the buildings. There’s the two technology, there’s all sorts of different play equipment or whatever, having a school.

But ultimately that real community is formed by Catholic teachers. So st. John Chrysostom in talking about these high roads to repentance gives us five steps. And when I read these, I was quite struck by them. Cause I thought, you know, if we were to put these five steps in place in our Catholic school communities, in terms of our relationships as staff, then I have a feeling that we would start to create a pretty remarkable school environment.

So let me spend you through these quickly and I want to get onto something else. So the first step in st. John Chrysostom’s high road to repentance is for, she says, acknowledge your sins. And he says, the acknowledgement of our sins helps us to stop committing them. It’s really basic stuff, isn’t it. And I know you didn’t tune into the podcast to be necessarily convicted by me or anybody else have seen in your life.

But think about how this would actually play out in a Catholic school. If we acknowledged to ourselves, at least the sinful pattens of our attitudes, the way we speak or the way we might treat people. Now this can range from really out there stuff that we would be ashamed to admit and stuff that’s more subtle, but just little ways of seeing and being, and treating people, even students.

So the first step is that we acknowledge those areas of our lives as Catholic teachers, when we’re not bringing our a game, if that makes it easier to hear. So we start by acknowledging. Those things that we need to change. So this is crucial. I’ve just been doing a lot of stuff on Ignation spirituality recently, and this examination of conscience, this sort of daily habit of looking through the day and going, well, how did I do today?

So I want you to start getting in this habit, right? As a Catholic teacher, start looking through your day at the end day, where you go to sleep even. How did you do, was there a particular conversation that you wish you could change? Was there a particular interaction that you wish hadn’t happened? So it’s this acknowledgement of seeing this acknowledgement of, you know, what we’re doing that allows us to really grow.

catholic teacher wellbeingSo here’s number two, he says, forget wrongs and control your temper, forget wrongs. Can you imagine a Catholic school community where we almost all had amnesia where it came to, what people might’ve said or done to us? You know, the ability to literally forget that’s a grace to pray for them. Grace to forget the wrongs that have been done to us and then control our temporary out of that.

So I’m sure at your Catholic school right now, there are one, two, five, seven, hopefully not too many more people, uh, who you work with that you could probably say at some point in time have said or done something that was problematic. So the ability to, we need to pray for that grace to forget what people have actually done.

Now, our culture doesn’t like that because, well, we’re very, very much down the rabbit hole of justice at the moment in multiple areas of culture. So yeah, we’re really a culture that’s big on. Pointing out who might’ve done something wrong and making them pay as much as possible. Now I’m not being flippant here.

Of course, there’s a, there’s a case for appropriate justice, but also the bigger, the ability to forget injustice, to forget things that have happened to move beyond them is really important. So. What’s number one, acknowledging our sins. Number two is forgetting the wrongs that have been done to us because this is very counter-cultural isn’t it?

And it was written, you know, so many hundreds and hundreds of years ago, number three, he says prayer, let’s keep that really simple. He said, pray to us for grace. What I’m doing here is getting you to think about how this would look, how this would play out in a Catholic school culture. Lot of we’re praying regularly for each other, for the leadership for ourselves.

I had a spiritual director read recently said to me, Jonathan, he said, don’t forget to pray for yourself. Cause I like to pray the rosary most days. And I like to really intercede for people, but he said always remember, uh, you know, ask Mary to pray for you. So this prayer is important. Number four is arms giving, which you just see, you know, obviously being generous with what we have.

But in the Catholic school faculty or teacher context, this could just mean being gracious and generous with encouragement of our fellow teachers. It could mean just giving time to people. So we want to have that spirit of generosity and number five, I really liked this one. He said, uh, the number five in the high roads to repentance that we’re putting into play today in terms of what it would mean for Catholic school.

He says modest and humble behavior. You said this annihilates sin, as surely as any other method, modest and humble behavior. When I read that today, I thought I’ve said this many times, culture has a huge problem with modest and humble behavior. We are a culture at the moment that is obsessed with self it’s, obsessed with self promotion, it’s obsessed with sometimes overconfidence and brashness.

So the ability to demonstrate modest and humble behavior in the Catholic school context. I mean really quite something. I listen to something on the BBC today, another podcast where some people from some of the world’s best business schools are looking at the dangers of overconfidence and the value of humility.

So it seems that our managerial and technological cultures are also starting to realize that there’s a great benefit. In being modest and humble and not seeking the praise and not seeking the highest place. Yeah. It’s funny. I think so. I think Jesus kind of said that 2000 years ago. Right. It’s amazing.

How much of the great wisdom of our culture cha is deeply embedded in the gospels. All right. So. There’s those quick five from st. John Chrysostom. Hopefully you can have a listen to those. Maybe again, acknowledges sins, forget the wrongs done to you. Remember the importance of prayer, arms giving generosity in terms of how you give time and attention and care to people and finally modest and humble behavior.

So thank you to st. John, Chris. , uh, hopefully we’ll get him in there. Thank you, John Chrysostom for it, sharing with us, uh, down. Yeah, through the centuries. All right. I want to finish up. With a little journey. I want to take you on over the next few days. I, uh, I’m going to take you through the new book by not a new book, a book by Ryan topping.

It’s been around for awhile. Uh, it’s a brilliant book on, uh, I guess the, the core of Catholic education. I want to walk through that with you over the next few days, and I’ll put some links here. Where I really want to suggest you get yourself a copy, but, uh, one of the start I’ve been working through Ryan’s book and there’s a beautiful, uh, introduction written by a sister, John Mary Fleming, who I think has stepped down now, but the, uh, the head of the United States Catholic bishops conference for Catholic education.

And she’s writing in the introduction, right? She says that must much, much, much of modern education is a product of bad philosophy. And this is going to lead us into Ryan’s work, because what he’s focusing on is the real core principles that drive Catholic education. Now, I want to talk quickly about why this matters.

I have been convinced for many, many years that we can, there’s not much point tinkering with the outside edges or the, uh, the aesthetics in some sense of Catholic education. What we really want to do is to transform cast that Catholic education we’ve got to get. Back to the absolute, absolute core purpose of it, why it exists.

And I’ve spoken about that for many, many years, but I think what dr. Topping has for us in this book is going to be really useful. All I want to leave you with today is what he writes about in his preface, where he talks about the first principles of education. He says, we’ve got to get back to these first principles or what we call in the philosophical language causes.

catholic principal wellbeingNow I don’t, I doubt that you woke up today can to yourself about the first principles or the causes, the philosophical causes of Catholic education, but why do the podcast and why? The way I do is because I think until we get regrounding in these deep currents of Catholic philosophy and theology around why Catholic education exists, we’re never going to be the salt and light.

We’re never going to be as effective as crossword Willis to be. So as I wrap up in the preface, Ryan is talking about four kinds of causes or purposes of Catholic education. Very interesting. They come really, I guess, through Greek philosophy, they come through Aristotle and then of course, into st. Thomas Aquinas, but they’re worth every teacher understanding these are going to keep them really simple.

So we’ve got final causes, efficient causes formal. And material causes. So it’s been through them really quickly. And then we’re done final causes refers to the actual purposes of learning itself. What is the final cause of Catholic education? What is the final cause of learning itself? Why does it exist?

Why do humans want to learn? Why do humans have the capacity? Why were we created with a desire to learn. My quick answer to that would be the being made in the image and likeness of God. He wanted us to learn. He wanted us to grow. He delights in us becoming fully who we are as our knowledge increases.

So that applies directly to why we have Catholic schools. We have schools so that young Catholic people, and even people from the come to our schools from other faith traditions. Can become fully who they are, that they can really truly learn that there’s something about them as human. That means that learning is a positive good for them, that they become more fully, who they were created to be the more that they learn.

ryan topping

Dr. Ryan Topping

So the first of the final cause of all education, Is to become fully who we are in the image of God. That’s, it’s a crucial thing. Let’s not let’s, you know, and I’ve been hitting up against this for years because the risk we seem to run is creating schools, cultures, where we’re just trying to get kids in into college.

That is not the final cause of learning. That is not the final cause of education. In fact, even a job is not the final cause of education. But you can see how many of us would have fallen. There. Many, many Catholic teachers all over the world would be thinking at some level that the really, what they’re doing is preparing young people for professional life.

That is not the final cause of Catholic education. It’s just not. And I can stand on that from church teaching, from the church documents and education from philosophy, the purpose of a Catholic school is to help a young person become fully who they were created to be in the image of God. That’s the final purpose of Catholic education and learning.

So now he talks about these efficient causes. So if you’re not, if you haven’t done a lot of philosophy, efficient causes are, I guess you could say the causes or the realities or the requirements that brings something about that efficiently. Cause it, that, that make it happen. So what sort of things do you need to, to have to reach that final course?

So the efficient cause relates to what dr. Topping says here is questions of pedagogy. So how we teach our philosophy. Of education. What is it that we educate? What’s a human person. How do people learn effectively? So I’ve got a final cause, which is the full formation of the human person. We’ve got our efficient cause, which is our theory of education, our theories of knowledge.

That’s more epistemology, but you know, this theory of how we learn and how we teach and how we should present information to you, people in a way that’s really engaging that they can really learn it. And finally we have these formal and material causes, which refer to the actual curriculum itself, the actual nuts and bolts of what we decided to teach, you know, and these formal and material causes are really important.

You know, think, for example of often say how much ugliness our young people are exposed to through commercial culture, right. Through music and YouTube. And, but I remember when I was teaching, um, you know, taking students through the 18, 12 overture. And, you know, you’ll all know that piece of music and, you know, choosing this special piece of music to talk about the war of 1812, you know, and, and to actually, you know, help them understand this rich moment of history and bring them into the drama of it.

Now you can see that that’s touching on all aspects of education. I’m presenting a rich sort of musical historical presentation, because I believe that it is good for the human person to understand history, to understand their place in the cosmos and the world. And we’re using a particular thing. We’re using music, we’re using a particular aesthetic reality to bring about that.

Learning for young people. So I don’t think we’re thinking about this stuff very much and really what I want to take you on this journey of the next few episodes is following dr. Toppings thought, I want to take you deep into what he has to offer us and let’s get us thinking about this stuff. We can’t put these kinds of things in the tool, hard basket, or we need to know why are we teaching?

What is it that we teach, not content, but. The person, what sort of thing as a human person, what do they benefit from? What helps them to flourish? What helps them to grow? And then finally, we’re gonna look at the actual ways that we do with the either formal or material aspects of curriculum. So friends we’ve covered a lot.

This is longer than usual. We’ve talked about how to build a more humble, loving staff community at your school. Cool. We’ve talked about, uh, you know, the, the causes of education, the purposes of education. So that’s it for me today. Please come and check out the website. One Catholic. one Catholic

This lockdown is killing me. I can’t travel. I can’t speak. I was supposed to be speaking in San Francisco next week to 900 teachers. It would have been awesome. I can’t travel and let alone missing out on the keynote at NCA Baltimore, which would have been, you know, just so good. So I’m, I’m carrying some grief friends.

I’m carrying some grief about having my wings clipped. And not being able to get out on this scraping planet, especially my American friends. I’m really looking forward to getting back to your great country and, uh, and speaking across the U S again, so many wonderful memories for myself and the family of, of your hospitality and your goodness.

And, uh, So looking forward to that now. So check out the website, one Catholic and a resources page there. Please check out the, uh, going deeper resource. My new books are there. And, uh, last thing, if you’re not subscribed, please do it. Uh, Spotify, Google music, play podcast, wherever you’re listening, Stitcher Spreaker, radio public.

My Lord. There’s so many of them now, uh, make sure you’ve subscribed. And the last thing we’ve, I’d love it. If you could share this with some Catholic teachers, Hey, I just want to encourage you. That’s why I do this. I do. I just want to say thank you for what you do as a Catholic educator. If you’re listening to this in the car on the way to school, God bless you.

May your day be full don’t forget friends, please. If you’re listening still, don’t forget the amazing beauty and gift and power and significance and importance of what you do every day as a Catholic teacher. All right, friends, that’s it for me. My name is Jonathan Doyle. This has been the Catholic teacher daily podcast.

And I’ll have another message for you tomorrow. .

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One Catholic Teacher exists to inspire, encourage and support Catholic teachers around the world. Each day Jonathan Doyle offers a short dose of formation and encouragement via The Catholic Teacher Daily Podcast. Jonathan is also a global speaker and author on all issues related to Catholic Education.