The Patrick and Anthony Wright Formation and Education Fund has pleasure in announcing the following successful applications in the 2019 round of funding.
Spiritual direction as a resource for teacher formation, wellbeing and resilience
Detailed description of project:
Teacher education courses focus largely on curriculum content and pedagogical knowledge and skills. The greatest resource in the cultivation of wellbeing and enhanced learning outcomes for students, the teacher’s self, is given scant attention. Yet, we teach who we are, for better or worse. The complexity of the work of teachers continues to grow. Teachers carry high expectations from their school leaders, parents, their students, the wider community and themselves. They carry heavy, demanding workloads. In such a climate it is easy to see that without a robust sense of vocation and the nurturing of this, teachers suffer from high stress, become disillusioned, disconnected and ultimately leave the profession.Spiritual direction is a practice that enables a person to be connected to their authentic self which can, in turn, foster and strengthen a sense of purpose and vocation. This project seeks to explore how spiritual direction can support and enhance teacher identity and wellbeing, leading to a deepening of vocation and capacity for longevity in the profession.
The project involves the following process:
Case Study: In-depth role analysis of a spiritual director already working within a school environment, with a view to understanding any complexities and challenges for the role of a spiritual director in schools. Teachers who have received spiritual direction from this director in their school context will be interviewed. This data will guide the establishment of criteria for Stage Two.
Preparation of spiritual directors for Stage Three will involve formation in the areas of organizational role analysis, systems theory, and leadership theory. We will draw on the learning from Stage One in developing this training.
Across twelve months, spiritual direction will be provided to teacher participants across a variety of schools (eight sessions given monthly). Teacher participants will be asked to complete a survey prior to participating in spiritual direction in which quantitative and qualitative data will be collected about their experience of themselves in the role of teacher. They will be given the same survey at the end of the project. Spiritual directors who have been working with the teachers in schools will participate in focus groups during the project. Teacher participants will be interviewed nearing the conclusion of the project. No identifying data will be collected.
Data analysis and recording of results. An outcome of this work will be the production of two papers for two audiences: the spiritual direction community, and educators and leaders in the educational field. It is also proposed to develop a training course for spiritual directors who choose to work in an educational context.
Lavalla Catholic College
Awakening the Soul: Spiritual Direction and Staff Formation for Mission in Lavalla Catholic College, Traralgon: An Action Research Project
Detailed description of project:
The college mission is “to make Jesus known and loved”. However, to accomplish this mission effectively one must know and love Jesus.
While identifying specific challenges to Catholic Identity, the “Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project” (ECSIP, 2011 & 2016), also revealed a hopeful trend; students, staff and parents supported the Catholic identity stance and desired more relevant and contemporary spirituality and prayer experiences.
“Awakening the Soul” addresses this felt need for adults.
The Principal is the sponsor of the project; the undersigned is the Animator of the project. All adults in the college community are invited to take part. Participants will give regular feedback to the comunity and so involve them as well, albeit indirectly.
Forming the Group
The Principal, Deputy Principal (Staff Development) and Director of Mission interview applicants and select up to ten participants representing a range of stakeholders for the project.
1. to introduce selected staff to Spiritual Direction and accompaniment for individual and communal spiritual growth.
2. To create conditions to become more aware to the presence of a loving God in daily life.
3. To enhance Catholic Identity in the college by becoming agents of change.
4. To establish an intentional community of faith.
The project intends that the participants:
- develop skills of prayer, silence, stillness and reflection
- develop skills of discernment of God’s presence in daily life
- develop a deeper Catholic/transcendent worldview
- form an intentional faith community for transformation and mission.
The Project in Operation
Selected members are commissioned at the start of the academic year in February 2020. Each participant meets the spiritual director(s) fortnightly. In addition, they meet four times as a group to reflect, share, affirm and support each other on the journey.
The project concludes in November 2020.
Participants use a variety of methods to record their interactions, thoughts, reflections, growth, setbacks etc. The records are collected, collated, analysed and disseminated by 31 December 2020.
After the Project
The findings inform decisions about ongoing formation programs at the college.
The college explores ways of establishing Spiritual Direction as an integral part of the formation strategy for the future.
Participants continue their lifelong spiritual journey supported by the college as needed.
The group of participants model “to know and love Jesus” in action through their relationships with the college community.
In turn, they take the lead in promoting the mission of the college.
The desired result is a momentum shift in college culture towards a more relevant Catholic way of being.
Spiritual Directors International (Asia/Pacific)
The publishing of a two volume anthology and essay competition
Detailed description of project:
Based on the successful running of the first research symposium in Melbourne in August 2019, which saw over 20 papers submitted and presented in the form of roundtables and panels, we would like to further extend the conversation and scholarship. We propose publishing a two volume anthology of works together with an essay competition.
The first volume will draw upon the material presented at the Melbourne research symposium as well as symposiums being run in 2020. The Melbourne symposium showcased an impressive array of subjects and areas of research. It is intended to create a high quality anthology highlighting the depth and breadth of research being undertaken in the Australia/Pacific region. Examples of topics may include; Indigenous spirituality, trauma and spiritual direction, challenges and opportunities of offering spiritual direction across new technologies and intersections between theology, psychology and philosophy.
An important area for development which arose from the conversations at the research symposium was the need for an athology for those undertaking research in the area of spirituality and spiritual direction. The second volume of the anthology would include methodologies, theoretical frameworks and research approaches that lend themselves well to research in these areas. Too often research relies on grounded theory or autoethngraphy, however there are many other suitable approaches. This handbook would be applicable at all levels of post graduate studies and make a significant contribution in the area of academic research and scholarship.
Alongside this publishing project of the two anthologies would be an essay competition to encourage participation in this conversation. This competition opens the way for people from across the region and for those who weren’t able to attend or present papers at the symposium to contribute to this important project.