Tagged “School Connectedness”

Kevin T. Goddard

Motivation Matters

Middle school kids are a different breed. If you aren't motivating them, they are not learning. In fact, they are probably tearing something up if motivation isn't in the picture. During my years as a middle school principal, I figured out that building a school culture with character education, fun, and a sense of belonging was key to improving student achievement.

The year before I arrived at a junior high of 510 students, teachers sent students 5,090 times to the office for disciplinary infractions. Discipline was handled in three different ways: kick the kid out, let the kid sit on the bench outside the office and go to their next class with no consequence, or paddle them. The school board was very adamant that this building culture change.

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Roxanne Dove

Education Support Professionals: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

Jean G. Fay has no typical workday. Whether it's working one-on-one with a child with special needs, helping out in the cafeteria at lunchtime, sewing costumes for the school musical, or leading 40 2nd graders in the Crocker Farm Elementary hip-hop crew, she does it all! Jean is also known at Crocker Farm for her homemade cookies. Her kindergartners love to munch on them while they listen to her read "Junie B. Jones" stories. She wants to bring her love of reading to them every day, whether it's reading Simon James' "Baby Brains" books or poems by Emily Dickinson or T.S. Eliot.

Over the last 15 years, she has taught children to read, write, and do basic math; comforted children who were feeling sad; encouraged students in their social interaction; and helped them with all of their first steps in education. She has been there for them just as they begin learning to be learners and mastering the skills that they will need to be successful in life. On Thursday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays, she heads to her second job, at JCPenney at the local mall. Working at JCPenney has meant more than just paying the bills, though. She has used it as a way to help students and their families. Using her employee discount and the Massachusetts Child grant program, Jean has been able to buy clothes and school supplies for her students. When the father of one of her students passed away and the mother was struggling financially, Jean was able to use the Massachusetts Child program to purchase clothes for the children for their dad's funeral. Jean continues to be connected to this family today.

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Laura Varlas

Turning Around the Teen Brain by Building Effort

Neuroplasticity means humans have the ability to change their brains through repeated, adaptive practice. Buy-in, however, can be a huge hurdle in getting students to invest effort in the actions that will grow their brains.

"If the brain's not buying in, then it's not changing," author Eric Jensen noted in his 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain."

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Whole Child Symposium

Russell Quaglia: From Dreaming to Doing

Post written by Laura Varlas

Russell Quaglia - 2014 ASCD Annual ConferenceHow would you rate your ability to put your dreams into practice? How would you rate your students?

Aspirations—having goals and being inspired in the present to pursue them—challenge us to match our dreams with actions, explained Russell Quaglia at his lively 2014 ASCD Annual Conference general session. But for many students, he added, aspirations get lost in the limbo between dreaming and doing.

"We have a lot of dreamers, but not a lot of doers," he said. "The disconnect between kids' hopes and dreams and how they're going to reach them is profound." Drawing on MyVoice surveys of more than 1 million students done by the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), Quaglia argued that this gap is symptomatic of a student population in which about half feel disengaged and disconnected from their school community.

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Stephen Sroka

Getting to the Heart of Education: Listening to the Whole At-Risk Student

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." —Aristotle

Many at-risk students in schools are crying out for help with their real-life issues, yet many educators respond with an emphasis on academic proficiency skills. With today's stress on academic achievement at all costs with little regard for the mental, social, physical, emotional, or spiritual aspects of the whole student, many teachers teach tests and not students. Students become grade-point averages and not people. And many students tune out and drop out, literally or figuratively. What do our at-risk students need? What can you do to make a difference?

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Kristen Pekarek

Strong Relationships Are Key

Strong Relationships Are Key - Whole Child Blog

Relationships have not only proven to be good for our physical health, but our spiritual and emotional health as well. It is through relationships with other human beings that we grow and evolve, as well as deepen and expand our love and meaning in life. As many of you are aware, today is Valentine's Day. Whether or not you like this holiday, it comes each year to provide time for each of us to reflect on and grow our personal and professional relationships.

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Kristen Pekarek

Celebrate School Counselors This Week

National School Counseling WeekNational School Counseling Week, sponsored by whole child partner the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), is being celebrated this week, February 3–7, to focus public attention on the unique contribution professional school counselors have on students and school systems everywhere. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Free Webinar—Hanging In: Working with Challenging Students

Jeffrey BensonHanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most, for an exciting, free webinar on what you can do now for a challenging student in your school.

Thursday, January 30, 2014, 3:00 p.m. eastern time
Register now!

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Klea Scharberg

Have We Made Our Schools Safer?

This past weekend marked one year since the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. During this time, we read, listened to, and participated in discussions on how to keep our schools safe and secure. And also during this time, at least 25 school shootings have occurred, including Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School in Colorado. School safety is a complicated issue with no single or simple solution.

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Start Empathy

Empathy and Racism

Post written by Madeleine Rogin for Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative, a whole child partner organization.

Leading education theorists, such as Howard Gardner and Tony Wagner, have written about the importance of cultivating our students' abilities to communicate across "networks"—skills that are crucial to success in our new global reality. And indeed, there's already been a popular acceptance that teaching around the topics of race, racism, and communicating across differences is an essential part of education in the 21st century. But in many classroom conversations, racism is framed as something of the past rather than a present reality. In addition, white children often think of slavery or the Jim Crow laws as something horrific that happened to "them," but do not see these events as something that is bad for "us" as a whole. To avoid this mistake, we can focus on empathy in the classroom as a way to prevent exclusionary behavior and "othering," which may move students to stand up against bias and prejudice.

Looking toward the future, the next step is to ask ourselves, as educators and parents, how do we go about these conversations in a way that promotes values such as inclusivity and empathy?

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