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The Role of the Teacher and Leader

 

The following draft material is provided for your use as we renew the Religious Education Curriculum Framework.

 

The Role of the Teacher and Leader of Religious Education in a Catholic Learning Community

Every person in a Catholic learning community – parents, leaders, teachers and students – is already deeply connected to others and to God by their very nature of being made in the image and likeness of God. This belief forms a strong basis for the relationships that are at the heart of all learning.

 

All of you who work in the Catholic school, as members of a learning community enlivened by the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ, share in the responsibility for the religious dimension of school life. As teachers and leaders, you intentionally build a community of learners, bringing five vital components of your role to bear as:

 

  • Witnesses: living with integrity, presenting the Catholic Tradition in the context of a faith community as a lived and attractive option, with a humble and supportive attitude
  • Moderators: bringing students’ issues, diverse experiences and thinking into dialogue with the Catholic Tradition
  • Specialists: offering deep knowledge of matters concerning Christianity, Catholicism, and other religious and philosophical traditions
  • Co-inquirers: modelling an inquiry disposition, truth-seeking and passion for transformative learning
  • Designers of learning: planning and implementing clear, differentiated and engaging learning paths with, and for, students that progress their learning in Religious Education in line with the achievement standards.

 

You participate in the learning community first and foremost as witnesses, sharing something of yourself and your faith with those you encounter.

 

Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness… Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one. (Evangelii Nuntiandi n.21)

 

As teachers and leaders in Catholic schools, you have the responsibility of bearing witness, not only to your faith, but to who you are as teachers and learners. As partners in the learning of parents, peers and students, your witness in the learning relationships encompasses all aspects of your role. You are co-inquirers, modelling lifelong learning through your own ongoing search for meaning and truth. You collegially design rich learning pathways with, and for, students in Religious Education that empower students to make meaningful connections between life and faith. You moderate student dialogue, creating spaces for diverse views to come into contact with the Catholic Tradition. As specialists, you inspire others with your deep knowledge of aspects of the Catholic Tradition and other faith traditions. These roles are supported through regular collegial dialogue, which can act as ongoing faith formation for you, as teachers and leaders, as you engage in planning and teaching.

 

Discussion questions

How does this description of being a witness resonate with me? What challenges me? How might being such a witness impact my teaching and learning?

What is not seen, that I dare not imagine, that inspires hope in me? What might it be for my students?

 

Leading for Learning in Religious Education

As leaders, you create structures that support ongoing learning and professional dialogue with, and for, teachers, developing a culture that fosters deeply valued stances of Witness, Moderator, Specialist, Co-inquirer and Designer. As leaders, you understand that witness is at the heart of your role.

 

As Religious Education leader, you work in the broader context of collaboration with the parish priest and principal and in support of parents to nurture the religious learning and faith of the community. Your witness provides a model for all those who lead and teach and, in particular, for those who contribute to the Religious Education of all learners in the school community. 

 

Discussion questions

How might a leader work with the learning community to foster these valued stances?

What does this ask of us as a school community? What does it ask of me?