The Whole Child Blog

Whole Child Symposium

Lines of Thinking From the 2014 ASCD Conference

Post written by Jeffrey Benson and originally published on his blog.

The ASCD Annual Conference took place in Los Angeles from March 14–17. It was consistently thrilling to be among a diverse group of 9,000 educators. Everyone had stories to tell, aspirations to share, and good work to do. You just had to sit down next to anyone and say, "Where are you from? What do you do?" and an hour later you had another colleague.

I heard competing narratives about our students and the schools they need. One narrative concerns poor kids of color who come to school from the earliest elementary years already behind in basic skills. They need schools structures and teachers who are strong enough and sensitive enough to stand with the kids, and who have a pedagogical skill set attuned to their students' particular needs—especially in reading, writing and the traumas of poverty. If we don't provide a more rigorous and high-end curriculum of health care and basic skills for these kids, they'll never catch up; the lack of resources to more predictably turn these communities around is further proof of the institutional racism we still must fight. There is much call from these communities for longer school days and longer school years to bridge all the gaps.

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Melanie Olmstead

Building Support for Teacher Leaders

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.

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Klea Scharberg

Engage Students with Motivation 3.0

In this video, Daniel Pink talks to the Patterson Foundation about the need to upgrade our approach to motivation in schools. He uses the metaphor of an outdated computer operating system to characterize motivational practices that rely on punishments and rewards to elicit desired behavior. Although "carrots and sticks" motivation works well when the outcomes are simple tasks, this is not a suitable operating system for the complex, creative thinking required of 21st century students. Pink recommends upgrading to "motivation 3.0," or an operating system predicated on the principles of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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Whole Child Symposium

A Whole Child Education for Every Child: The Grand Unifying Theory of Education

If our goal is a "whole child" education for every child, here are some essential questions: How should a modern school be managed and led in a world where the ground keeps constantly shifting? How can a single educator piece together a coherent vision of "school today:" management, leadership, curriculum, teaching, tools? Does "21st-century learning" have any real and special meaning? What's certain is that the schools we're striving to create today are not your father's (or your mother's) schools.

I am not a huge fan of posts that start with a number and proceed to a command: "83 Things You Must Do To Be The Teacher You Want to Be;" "Thirteen Cs Your School Can't Survive Without." In general I find these overwhelming, dispiriting, and ultimately pointless; add them all together and you wind up with an infinitude of impossibility and a guilt-trip headache. I have used this pitch a few times, and I'm rather sorry I did.

I find my thinking on education and learning fragmented enough without reducing its elements to lists. When I've actually tried to do this, I wind up with a mental construct that looks like the Strategic Directions to Hell, a road paved in bullet-points of noble intention.

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Whole Child Symposium

Don’t Settle for the Okey-Doke in a Third Narrative of American Education

An independent school leader and public school parent, Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) is the head of the Upper Elementary School and academic dean at the Curtis School in Los Angeles, Calif., and founding director of its Center for the Future of Elementary Education. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools' advisory council on diversity, a member of the EdCamp Foundation's public relations committee, and a fellow of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Originally shared on his blog, these are Thinnes' remarks from the Whole Child Symposium Town Hall at the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference, inspiration from the Network for Public Education Conference, and reflections on an EdLeader21 PLC Advisory Group meeting.

"Sisters and brothers: Don't settle for the 'okey-doke'..."
Karen Lewis

"We don't support the status quo..."
John Kuhn

I just returned to Los Angeles after the honor of participating in one of the great conversations about the future of education, sitting around a table of district leaders engaged in writing what some have called a "third narrative" of public education in the United States. For days we collaborated in an effort to generate a theory of action, and made concrete commitments to a series of initiatives, that will have an impact on the experience of 2 million children in EdLeader21 member schools and districts in the coming years.

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Kevin Parr

March Madness: What Teachers Can Learn From Great Coaches

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is underway and millions of people are tuned in to root for their favorite team or more likely, to earn bragging rights via the office betting pool. No matter the reason, the fate of these fans' success rests in the success of the teams they are rooting for.

Conventional wisdom would tell us that the secret to a winning basketball team is simple; they have the best players. Although having skillful players does help, it seems that the skills and attitude of the coach plays an even more significant role in predicting the success of a team. The proof lies in the fact that great coaches turn losing programs into winning programs and they do it wherever they go.

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Kit Harris, ASCD Research

ED Pulse Poll Results: What Are You Doing to Develop Tech Skills Needed for Common Core Assessments?

ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers what their schools and districts are doing to develop the technology skills students need to take the Common Core State Standards assessments.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Lead the Next Change in Education

If you could change one thing about education, what would it be? How do you engage other educators? Are you ready to lead?

ASCD Emerging Leaders are accomplished educators with 5–15 years of experience who are highly involved in ASCD and the education community as a whole. The two-year program is designed to prepare younger, diverse educators for potential influence and ASCD leadership. ASCD now enrolls more educators in each class than ever before and includes an Emerging Leaders grant opportunity that will award selected participants in their second year of the program with grants of up to $2,000. All emerging leaders in the program are provided with opportunities to pursue various leadership pathways, including serving on committees, hosting networking events for educators, advocating for sound education policy, and contributing to ASCD publications.

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming an ASCD Emerging Leader? Applications for the class of 2014 are open until April 1. Learn more at www.ascd.org/emergingleaders.

Dru Tomlin

Staff Morale in the Middle

One of the 16 characteristics of an effective school for students ages 10–15 is that teachers, learners, and building leaders should be using multiple assessments to gauge success. Data is collected to gauge learning and instructional success, but there is one other piece of data that also needs to be assessed, analyzed, and acted upon in the middle level: morale. While sometimes elusive, morale is a critical ingredient in the middle school recipe because it affects every instructional dish that is served to our students. But how do we collect, disaggregate, and then act upon morale? How do we pin down such an enigmatic ingredient?

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Kristen Pekarek

March Is Middle Level Education Month

Whole child partner National Association of Secondary School Principals has joined with other organizations, including the Association for Middle Level Education, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, and the National Association of Elementary Principals, to declare March the official month to celebrate middle level education. This celebration looks to focus attention on students ages 10–15 and the importance of their academic success and well-being during this stage of their lives.

In acknowledgement of this month's designation, we've compiled a list of whole child examples that highlight schools that are positively affecting middle grades students. Each example highlights a program, focus, or achievement and includes links to more information. Take a look and get inspired for this year's Middle Level Education Month.

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