St Michael’s motto is Teach Me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge but when you think about it, it is one of the areas we devote the least explicit focus on in the school. We hope it will be absorbed by osmosis. Knowledge is thoroughly inculcated everyday through teaching, essays and tests. Discipline is also integrated in classrooms, homework and extra-curricular activities which require extraordinary commitment. Goodness is addressed by the service commitment but seems less emphasized by comparison I would recommend an increased focus on what Goodness means to every student, every year.
One idea would be to integrate it into religion class and here is a possible way to do that:
• First class religion class: all students would be given a set of questions or “examination of conscience” to help them to think about what it means for them to live out Goodness. For example:
o What does Goodness mean in my faith life?
o How I treat others at school?
o How I stand up for vulnerable?
• The students would set concrete, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound) goals for themselves guided by this Goodness questionnaire
o They would discuss their goals with a partner
o The class would share good examples from the partners
o There would be regular check ins during class time with their partners on progress. The check ins would be to celebrate successes and trouble shoot areas of weakness – check-ins could be end of September, first week of January, after Spring break and year end
• Students would submit and be graded on goals and short paragraph updates at check ins
o Might be 20% of weight of overall religion mark
o Marking could be simple: 80% for reasonable effort, 90% plus for above average effort and 50% for those who make no effort
• Grade 12’s could do an additional exercise based on Clayton Christensen’s Harvard Business Review Article “How to Measure Your Life” sent separately by email
The other thing I think we need to do is acknowledge Goodness in the same way we do other accomplishments. I may be out of date on how SMCS does this but we used to have an athletic awards banquet and I think there are prizes for high marks. In a Catholic institution, Goodness recognition should be at least as prominent if not more so than academics and athletics. There should be recognition for members of every grade. Nominations should be open to student body and staff as well as a vetting process to ensure secret bullies are not rewarded. It would be an important symbolic message if the awards were bigger than the academic awards. It could also incorporate a donation portion by the school to a charity of the student’s choice.
Happy to help in developing something like this.