The Whole Child Blog
Moses was my student in Brooklyn, N.Y. He came from Guyana, was 10 years old, and deaf. His mother, who spoke no English and knew no one in New York, had made the treacherous journey to the United States to give him the opportunity to go to school. He was the skinniest boy I had ever seen, with longer-than-long legs that he sometimes tripped over when he ran. Moses was not getting enough to eat at home, so I started bringing him food. Some days, he did not eat from the time he left me until the next morning at school.
Moses and his mother lived in one tiny room where the heat sometimes did not work. His mother worked two jobs and was rarely home for more than an hour when Moses returned from school. Yet here he was, at long last, in a school for the deaf where he could finally thrive and learn.
When we were students, it quickly became apparent who was "smart" and who was "not so smart." This writer happened to find himself in the latter category, especially when it came to math. How did we figure this out? Those who struggled with math, for example, simply interpreted the arrangement of the math groups: Group A students were often first to work with the teacher (and the first to finish). This was obviously the "smart group." Group B consisted of the "decently smart group" of students, and so on. "Smart kids" earned As in math. "Not so smart kids" didn't. "Smart kids" went outside during recess. "Not so smart kids" had to get extra help during recess. Most teachers know As say very little about a student's intellect. Unfortunately, most students don't.
Whether our struggling students know it or not, they have a unique gift. And it's up to us to unearth that special talent and find ways to empower them.
Post written by Pam Capasso, Sara Gogel, Tracy Knight, and Janine Norris of Holly Glen Elementary School in Williamstown, N.J.
Holly Glen Elementary School serves approximately 580 students with one-third on free or reduced-price meals. Our school houses English language learners, students with autism, and students from low-income housing. In the past, Holly Glen comprised various socioeconomic levels ranging from upper class to lower income.
The landscape of American education has changed. Since 2011, more minority children than white, non-Hispanic children are being born in U.S. households. As a result of this growing trend, we must look at the disparities within the education system that have implications for schools across the country. Once thriving communities are seeing population shifts, with students coming from inner-city, urban areas as well as students from impoverished backgrounds.
We're in the midst of an education paradigm shift. Are you on board? How do you know? More importantly, do you know what's driving it? Knowledge? Technology? The institution itself? We may have as many different definitions of the paradigm as we do of the shift.
I would argue the true paradigm shift is the move of focus from an individual to a communal orientation to society; a global view. This is a challenge in a culture where rugged individualism is a virtue. Our lore and legend are full of examples of strong individuals standing staunchly against adversity: Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Superman, Rambo. Then again, our historical heroes are also larger than life: Washington, Lincoln, Patton, MacArthur. They are revered for altering history against all odds. So how did this become our defining ideal, when the earliest settlers focused on the virtue of community? From colonizing in the new world to finding salvation in the afterworld, everything was achieved through communal life. How did we get from The Pilgrim's Progress to Walking Tall? It feels like a shift in paradigm and a paradox; a paradigm-a-dox.
Post written by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, a Medill School of Journalism candidate at Northwestern University concentrating in finance reporting and interactive publishing. Starting this month, she will be a business reporter for MediaTec Publishing in Chicago, Ill.
Yvette Jackson believes that the labeling of students and schools is a detriment to education. Having worked in schools labeled "underperforming" and with students labeled "underachieving," Jackson says that such negative constructs yield disastrous results for both teachers and students.
Post written by Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Success should be in the grasp of all children, no matter where they live. However, the opportunities available to children based on their neighborhood vary dramatically across the United States. For the 8 million U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, critical resources for their healthy growth and development—including high-performing schools, quality medical care, and safe outdoor spaces—are often out of reach. The KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation tracks the well-being of children and families in the United States and provides information for data-based advocacy. This means being the go-to place for data on children and families, and we do that by partnering with local child-advocacy organizations to track data on children at the national, state, and local levels.
In a new study released Tuesday, Mathematica Policy Research and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University rigorously evaluated the Playworks program and found that it improved outcomes in the areas of school climate, conflict resolution and aggression, physical activity, and learning and academic performance.
We know that when students are fully engaged in learning and school, academic achievement, attendance rates, and participation in activities increases. Students need to be motivated in their learning before they can apply higher-order, creative-thinking skills and, ultimately, be prepared for their future college, career, and citizenship success.