The decisions we make today—for our systems, our schools, and our classrooms—will affect what all of our tomorrows will look like. This spring, ASCD hosted its inaugural Whole Child Symposium, a series of in-person and online events in which experts, policymakers, teachers, and students discussed education policies, processes, and practices and their influence on children, societies, and economies in the future.
Imagine in your mind, a map of your community. Nothing detailed; just the boundaries and general lay of the land. Got it? Now add in the major areas in your community where people live and work and play. You know, to give yourself some bearings with a few landmarks. Still with me? Good! Now convert this mental image into a heat map. You know, where the hot spots flare up in bright yellows, oranges and reds? Picture in your mind hot spots that indicate places people go to learn new things and practice skills that are important to them. Where are those heat surges? Athletic fields? Dance studios? Book stores? Parks and beaches? Art galleries? Theaters? How about school buildings? No? Why aren’t school building hot spots on anyone's heat map?
Building on the conversation started at the earlier Whole Child Symposium Town Hall and Live events, last week's Virtual panel discussions went even further to identify what currently works in education, what we need in the future to be successful, and how this can be accomplished. Watch the archived sessions below and let us know how we can improve the symposium experience.
To thrive in today's global society, children need personalized support, safe environments, good health, and challenging learning opportunities. Adequately preparing students for their future requires a more comprehensive approach to education that recognizes the crucial in-school factors and out-of-school influences that affect teaching and learning. Such an approach requires the collaboration and shared responsibility of families, schools, communities, and policymakers.
To support conversation, collaboration, and change, ASCD has released Whole Child Snapshots highlighting how well each U.S. state—and the nation—is meeting the comprehensive needs of its children. The snapshots feature data aligned with the five tenets of ASCD's Whole Child Initiative—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Together, the data provide a fuller picture of child well-being that extends beyond standardized test scores. The snapshots also suggest initial ideas for how communities can make targeted and innovative improvements to support the whole child and help their students become college, career, and citizenship ready. To see each indicator and the full Whole Child Snapshot for each state, visit www.ascd.org/wholechildsnapshots.
ASCD's inaugural Whole Child Symposium concludes this week with a series of virtual panels featuring school leaders, policy experts, teachers, and students. You can register, participate live, and join in the discussions on social media. Each panel will discuss what currently works in education, what we will need in the future to be successful, and how this can be accomplished.
Research shows that students with access to good nutrition have higher school attendance records, are better able to focus, and are consistently more engaged than students with poor nutrition. Even so, Congress approved and President Obama signed a farm bill reauthorization that cuts funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.
What do we need from education? How are we preparing students for the world they will enter?
This spring, ASCD is launching its inaugural Whole Child Symposium, a series of discussions to tackle these important questions. Through a town hall discussion, a live event, and a series of virtual panels, the symposium aims to push and expand conversations about effective education and education systems around the world. The 2014 theme is "Choosing Your Tomorrow Today," in which we explore how what we decide today regarding education policies, processes, and practices influences our children, societies, and economies tomorrow.
A fundamental societal need is to end the marginalization (and ongoing fragmentation) of efforts to transform how schools address barriers to learning and teaching and re-engage disconnected students. To this end, our work emphasizes embedding all specific initiatives into a broad school improvement framework that can guide development of a unified and comprehensive system of student and learning supports. Such a framework enables using the growing interest in the "whole" as a catalyst to effectively weave together the full range of existing school-home community resources.
In the United States, historically, the purpose of education has evolved according to the needs of society. Education's primary purpose has ranged from instructing youth in religious doctrine, to preparing them to live in a democracy, to assimilating immigrants into mainstream society, to preparing workers for the industrialized 20th century workplace.
And now, as educators prepare young people for their futures in a world that is rapidly changing, what is the goal? To create adults who can compete in a global economy? To create lifelong learners? To create emotionally healthy adults who can engage in meaningful relationships?
Teachers are increasingly embracing leadership roles that allow them to use their skills and expertise outside of the classroom. Yet many schools are facing challenges in implementing distributed leadership models that empower teachers to become influencers and decision makers. ASCD's latest Policy Priorities examines teacher leadership and the obstacles practitioners face from the classroom to the central office in cultivating programs that expand and enhance professional growth and leadership.