Author Archive

Sean Slade

Improving Schools: Relationships, Personalization, Learning

Repeated refrains of the 2013 ASCD Whole Child Virtual Conference, held just two weeks ago, were the importance to form relationships with students, develop a personalized approach to teaching, and enhance learning. These concepts are all around us in education today:

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Sean Slade

Improving Schools: Principal Leadership

The role of the prinicpal is many things to many people. Maybe we need a name change?

  • Principal? This adds weight to the role of key decision maker.
  • Head teacher or headmaster? It certainly echoes the need for the "head" of the school to be an overseer of instruction.
  • CEO? Some would agree, but are our schools mini-businesses? Or rather, do we want them to be?

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Sean Slade

The Evolution of School Health

The first tenet of a whole child approach to education is healthy. Each student, in each school and in each community, should enter school healthy and learn about and practice a healthy lifestyle. We know that if students aren't healthy, they can't learn; therefore, health is the most basic of the tenets of education.

For the past decade, ASCD has been working on strengthening the links between health and education. These two essential sectors must align and work collaboratively if we are to truly support students and their growth and learning. If we are serving the same students in the same location and for the same needs, it makes sense to work together.

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Sean Slade

Improving Schools: School Safety

This month we are focusing on school safety, where the initial thought is to discuss physical safety as a reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Yet, in looking back over the articles written recently, there is less about physical safety and more about positive school climate, supportive environments, open doors, and inviting the community into schools.

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Sean Slade

Safer Schools for Living, Growing, and Learning

Often when people talk about the basics of education, they refer to the three Rs: reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic. However, an even more foundational aspect to educating students is ensuring that schools are safe.

If a school isn't a safe place, then it can't be a school as we know it—a place to learn and grow. If a school isn't a safe place, it becomes reactive to incidents, and teaching and learning become a secondary or forgotten imperative.

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Sean Slade

What’s in Our Control: Safer, Connected Environments

Almost no one has been unaffected by the events in Newtown, Conn., last week—especially if they are a teacher or parent or have kids who go to elementary school, as many of us do. It's hard to discuss and even harder to make any kind of sense out of what happened.

Today we highlight posts from our archives, the ASCD community, and our partner organizations that speak to how we can make our schools and communities safer and more connected. While we cannot immediately change policies that affect our schools and larger communities, we can strengthen our resolve to make sure that we create environments for our kids that are welcoming, supportive, and caring. The immediate reaction is to hunker down; however, as we hear so often, the best next steps are to open doors, re-engage and reconnect.

We hope the following pieces may resonate or help. Standing strong together and reminding ourselves that a connected community is a safer and friendlier community may be the best action we can take right now, and it's something we can have some control over.

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Sean Slade

Education: A System for Sorting or for Learning?

Caught up in the middle of the debates and discussions about education reform over the past few years lies a fundamental difference in how people view education. Is it a system designed for sorting or is it a system designed for learning?

Many of the reforms and innovations that are proposed appear to slot education into the sorting category rather than the learning category. Whether it is an emphasis on high-stakes testing or the expansion of fast-track teacher training programs, both of these education trends appear to be designed to test and label rather than to help them learn and grow.

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Sean Slade

Are We Teaching the Academic or Are We Teaching the Whole Child?

This question was tweeted out from the recent Australian Council for Educational Leaders Conference in Brisbane and sums up one of the key questions being asked not only Down Under, but also around the globe. It is one of the bigger questions that must we must ask before we try to answer others around merit pay, large-scale testing (NAPLAN), national curriculum, and school rankings.

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Sean Slade

Do We Need to Burn Our Violins and Close Our Swimming Pools?

"To compete with China in education we will need to burn our violins and close our swimming pools."

Author Yong Zhao said this last week in Melbourne, Australia, at the 2012 Joint Australian Primary Principals Association and New Zealand Federation of Principals Trans-Tasman Conference. Zhao presented a keynote at the conference, as did ASCD Board of Directors member Pasi Sahlberg and author Andy Hargreaves. Interestingly, the themes each speaker touched on have relevance to not only Australian audiences, but also those around the world who are going through similar discussions.

Call them the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) discussions.

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Sean Slade

The Whole Child Is Going Down Under

Whole Child Down Under

Over the next two months, we will be hosting a webinar series designed specifically for Australian educators. It has become obvious over the last year that the discussions being conducted in Australia about education reform reflect many of the same conversations held here in the United States. Whether it is the debate on the development and expansion of a national curriculum, the basis for funding for states and schools (Gonski), or even the premise and unexpected baggage that accompany initiatives that rank schools by—among other things—academic test scores (My School), there are lessons that Australian educators can learn by reviewing what has occurred in the United States. Larger than all of these discussions, yet embedded into all, is the fundamental question of "what do we want to achieve out of our education system?" Do we, as Australian Minister for School Education Peter Garrett stated, on reviewing the 2009 PISA Results, "prioritize English, Maths, and Science or see the Arts as fundamental to a fully rounded education? What do we learn from looking overseas?" (April 12, 2012).

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