The Whole Child Blog
The following is a response to the excellent articles in a recent issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine. I am a Montessori school principal living and working in Sydney, Australia, over the past 17 years. I am a long-term ASCD member and have worked as a teacher in schools with primarily non-English speaking migrant families, as a counsellor and principal in an international school where kidnapping and terrorism directly affected a number of families, and headed a highly academic school where the majority of students continued studies outside of school every day of the week. My current position has brought me to a place of understanding of education I had never been able to reach before, despite the diverse environments in which I served earlier. While no school is free of difficulties, I write this response after finding the "secret ingredient" in building resilience in children.
How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. Ensuring personalized learning for all students requires a shift in thinking about long-standing education practices, systems, and policies, as well as significant changes in the tools and resources. To address students’ abilities, interests, styles, and performance, schools need to rethink curricula, instruction, and technology tools to support giving learners choices and schools flexibility.
Join us as throughout December and January as we take a look at how personalized learning has the promise to ensure equity, engagement, ownership, and achievement for each child, in each school, and in each community so that she is college, career, and citizenship ready and is prepared for success in our global, knowledge-based society.
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. Recently, the ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll addressed the need for and the interest in multicultural competency training in education.
What does it mean to master a subject? And how can schools help students get there? The December 2013/January 2014 issue of Educational Leadership focuses on how educators can help students achieve mastery as they learn. But what does mastery mean? And how can teachers be sure students have achieved it? Authors in this issue consider these questions from a variety of angles, offering definitions of mastery and discussing how a focus on mastery might transform classroom practices.
In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes that the concept of mastery is difficult to grasp, but that the concept of mastery learning is relatively straightforward. It's the idea of setting clear objectives, providing students with opportunities for practice, checking for understanding, reteaching in different and new ways if needed, and, finally, giving students more than one chance to demonstrate the attainment of the goal. Mastery learning puts students first.
PISA assesses the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The results should be used as one measure of a country's overall evaluation of its education system and not serve as a league table. Yet information and greater understanding are there if we care to look and discuss the results honestly.
Whatever differences we may read in the PISA results that were released today, here's a sampling of quotes from the U.S. report (PDF) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to put things in perspective. Each could be a blog post on their own and each serves up some interesting pieces of information.
With more states adopting the Common Core State Standards, it can be overwhelming for U.S. schools and teachers to consider "adding" anything else. But character education isn't about adding, it's about integrating with all that you already do. In a new position paper from whole child partner Character Education Partnership, authors Kristin Fink and Karen Geller make the case that the Common Core State Standards are good for education, but Common Core integrated with character education is even better.
A friend of mine's daughter took a picture of herself using his phone. She is 18 months old. He should be glad she didn't do something else with it. He captioned it, "Caden's first selfie." We call these pictures "selfies" because it's a picture taken of yourself, by ... yourself. I thought his daughter looked adorable with her big smile. I am not a fan of my own selfies because I think they bring out my worst qualities (too many to list).
'Tis the season for the social media firestorm of thankful messages, and, as cliché as it is, I think there is something to be said for pausing and being grateful. Yet it can get overwhelming. A few years ago, I did a new "thanks" message on my Facebook page for the 10 days leading up to Thanksgiving. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end, mostly because I felt the need to be entertaining while not bragging, which is a fine line to walk. Like many of you, I have so much to be thankful for, and I find it's easy to take it all for granted. And if you're like me, you save certain things to remember the good times. Maybe it's a wedding program, a special note from a student, the ticket stub from your first concert, or any other tangible item that you can post on a bulletin board or pull from a drawer when you need a pick-me-up and take a moment of pause.