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Character formation is at the heart of Catholic schooling. Catholic schools - widely recognized for advancing the common good - explicitly commit to educating students holistically, nurturing their spiritual, ethical and moral virtues alongside academic knowledge and skills, and socio-emotional well-being. Yet little is known about the affordances and constraints of organizational learning to advance character formation in Catholic schools.

This three-year project addresses this gap, by answering the question: “How do networks of Catholic schools foster innovative and transformative pedagogies of character formation?” Pedagogies of character formation include the myriad structures, routines, and practices that contribute to educators’ efforts to form character. We purposefully chose three networks of Catholic schools with reputations for being innovative and transformative. Each operates as a community of practice (COP), pursuing distinctive missions and serving different school levels (elementary, middle, and secondary).

In Year 1 we closely examine 12 focal schools - four per network - examining how these COPs enact pedagogies of character formation, and the affordances and constraints of these COPs. In Years 2-3 we focus on strengthening the organizational capacity within and across these COPs, enhancing the capacity of educators within and outside these networks to enact pedagogies of character formation in their contexts. We will use two structures for supporting the cross-network learning: in-person summer institutes and virtual Pedagogies of Character Formation Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

The project will produce two durable products - multimedia case studies of each network and a PLC curriculum - as well as various presentations and publications. Collectively, these will help mission-driven schools across sectors leverage communities of practice to strengthen their pedagogies of character formation.