The Catholic Commentator

Catholic school teachers from throughout the Diocese of Baton Rouge became students for a few hours Oct. 6 as they shared ideas and challenges about their profession at an in-service training workshop sponsored by the Catholic Schools Office.

More than 125 teachers in math, science and technology gathered at St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge to attend sessions involving virtual labs, earth science activities, high school readiness, robotics, standardized test prep and “how to do a lot with a little.”

“This is to help us network with other teachers to get ideas, share ideas and improve our practices,” said Joanna Lemoine, a technology teacher for first through eighth grade at St. Aloysius School in Baton Rouge.

“This event gets teachers together who teach the same subject matter,” said Ellen Lee, principal of St. Michael.

“We have some outstanding teachers with some great ideas for the classroom and teaching is all about sharing our gifts with other people and other students. And, so, this is an opportunity for our teachers to share with each other.”

Besides sharing ideas, the workshops provided a place for networking and communicating.

“It’s a chance for us to come together and meet teachers from another school,” Lee said. “We don’t always have that opportunity so it’s important to be able to make that connection and exchange emails or phone numbers so that we feel comfortable sharing ideas just beyond today.”

Eleven schools served as host sites for the meetings, which were broken down by grade level and subject matter. St. Aloysius School, for example, hosted counselors and librarians, while Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Baton Rouge hosted music and art teachers and St. Jean Vianney School in Baton Rouge hosted athletics.

Wilbert Wilson, who teaches math and science at St. Francis Xavier School in Baton Rouge, said teaching math can be challenging some times, but it can be fun and entertaining when you “find activities that engage children in class.”

“It’s important to get teachers together to exchange ideas for curriculum purposes and to make sure we’re all on the same page across the diocese,” said Wilson of the workshops.

Lee said the topics covered in math, science and technology were submitted by the people who would be attending.

“We arranged to get volunteers to be facilitators, so they’re going to keep the conversation going and keep the teachers sharing, talking about their creative ideas, their best practices, how to get students to use higher-order thinking skills, those types of things,” she said.

Colby LeBlanc, a math teacher at Pointe Coupee Catholic High School in New Roads, lead the workshop discussion on math clubs. Those that attended agreed that it was tough to generate interest in something that competed with more popular activities such as sports and dance. Leblanc said one approach would be to include activities where kids don’t even realize they are doing math.

“They can get into heavy depth research where they don’t even realize math is being used,” said LeBlanc. “I know for example, when I was younger I enjoyed the TV show “Numbers” and in that show they were using math to solve crimes and it was loosely based off techniques the FBI uses today. So even if you’re doing a STEM fair or a math fair, that’s something they can use to broaden their horizons.”

The half-day workshops were a first for CSO. Assistant superintendent Michael Miller said the host site schools were chosen because of their central locations. The diocese employs 1100 teachers in grades pre-K through 12.

“It seemed to be something that went very well,” said Miller. “The faculty enjoyed getting together with colleagues from other schools and sharing ideas.”

“This event gets teachers together who teach the same subject and grade levels so they can have a conversation and share best practices, and just really networking and get the benefit of all the teachers in the Diocese of Baton Rouge,” said Lee.