Back-to-School Tips from a Sister of Mercy

August 31, 2017

By Sister Katie Mindling

Besides having time for vacation and/or travel, most high school students have been very busy over the summer with projects and programs, activities and apprenticeships, as well as sleeping late and enjoying a break from school bells and classes. There are some in sports camps and training programs; others have jobs that range from lifeguarding to lawn care; still others are giving hours of volunteer service, including short-term activities and service trips in different states and countries.

With classes resuming, students and teachers are headed back to the familiar settings where there will be unique opportunities to engage with one another in learning new and exciting materials. Let’s keep these tips in mind as we return.

Use technology wisely.

In this 21st century when so much knowledge comes through technology and can be discovered by tapping our fingertips, students are called to integrate their learning and be actively involved in discovering ways to incorporate their knowledge to grow into strong, value-centered individuals. So, let’s make the commitment to use technology wisely and never let it take the place of having valuable time with each other.

Listen to the Holy Spirit—and to the experts.

Students today need to develop skills on how to filter out from a sea of knowledge those facts that are true and noble. So, let’s listen to the Holy Spirit as well as to the experts who guide us to the best sources and who want us to bring out of each learning adventure ideas that will help foster our growth and help us find ways to be leaders in our society.

Be prepared.

Shopping for school is very different in this day of iPads and other electronic devices—and much kinder to the Earth. So, let’s be sure we know how to take and backup our electronic notes, ensure that we submit our assignments on the new learning management systems (LMS), like Canvas and ANGEL, now the standard for so many schools, and download the texts and apps that will be the basis for integrated learning.

Make mercy real.

Let’s approach teaching and learning with some of the attitudes so very present in the lives of the Sisters of Mercy: joy in our ever-more-common intercultural realities; dedication to deepening our relationships with God and with others; willingness to care for creation; capacity to speak and act with integrity, especially on behalf of those who are oppressed; and commitment to strong attitudes of nonviolence and anti-racism. Come to think of it, this is good advice for everyone, whether in the classroom, the workplace, among our families and friends, in our communities, in our world.

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