Feeling safe at school translates into higher academic achievement, increased student well-being, and greater engagement. Children who don't feel safe can't concentrate on their studies, don't connect with their classmates, or don't go to school at all.
Schools and communities committed to educating the whole child work together to ensure the physical, social, emotional, and academic safety and security of students and adults. They consistently assess comprehensive safety issues to foster effective conditions for learning.
Ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged requires us to continually ask questions and examine evidence related to implementation. ASCD's indicators of a whole child approach provide a guide for continual school and community improvement and serve as a definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires. Download the set of safe indicators (PDF).
From the Whole Child Blog
From specialty schools to courses and programs of study within larger school offerings, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education is an interdisciplinary approach where academic learning is matched with authentic projects. Engaging students in these practical, kid-centered projects develops critical thinking and problem solving skills, fosters creativity, and inspires innovation. Examples of STEM implementation demonstrate new and creative ways to bring education meaningfully to life for students with hands-on, real-world applications.
On this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, ASCD's Walter McKenzie and guests explore what it means to be a "STEM school," its place in a supportive and challenging whole child approach to education, and share working models. Listen to the episode below or download.
Jackie Gerstein is an independent thinker and advocates for providing students the education they deserve. She has been teaching in-person and online for several decades and currently teaches master's-level online courses in educational technology for Boise State University, American Intercontinental University, and Western's Governors' University. She believes that one of the responsibilities of the 21st century education is to share resources, ideas, and instructional strategies with other educators. Connect with Gerstein through her blog, User Generated Education, and on Twitter @jackiegerstein.
(Mark your calendars for the 2015 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Houston, Tex., where Gerstein will copresent a session titled "The Flipped Learning Toolkit for the Busy Teacher: Tips and Tricks for Practice" on March 21. Go to annualconference.ascd.org to learn more and register.)
- Pamela Moran has served as superintendent of Albemarle County (Va.) Public Schools since January 2006. She oversees a division with an annual operating budget of $151 million, with more than 1,100 teachers educating 13,000 students in 26 schools. During her tenure, Albemarle County Public Schools has become one of the top performing school divisions in Virginia with an on-time graduation rate of 93 percent. Moran has long had a commitment to providing broad-based and innovative learning opportunities for students, believing that excellence in multiple disciplines provides students with the skills essential to becoming successful as citizens, in the workforce, and in post-secondary education. Connect with Moran through her blog, A Space for Learning, and on Twitter @pammoran.
- Amanda Siewert is a passionate new educator who teaches at the Colorado STEM Academy. She began working with Colorado ASCD during her senior year of undergraduate university study and has been active since. Her mission statement is this: "Inspire each child to reach their full potential." This mission carries over into her interest of creating opportunities for teachers to grow as educators into their full potential. Connect with Siewert on Twitter @msaes14.
What does a focus on STEM look like in today's classrooms and across content areas? What are the implications for teaching and learning now and in the not-so-distant future?
Whole Child Examples
Lusher Charter School is one of the most sought-after public schools in the city of New Orleans.