Tagged “Best Questions”

Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Someday Happens, Part Two

Four years ago on the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States, we titled our Whole Child Newsletter "Someday Happens," reflecting a T-shirt I saw at the ceremonies that day. Today, independent of political views, I'm wondering when someday will happen for the millions of kids promised a "free and appropriate public education." Although that phrase was first introduced in reference to children with disabilities, it applies too often to kids from all walks of life in all parts of the United States.

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: School Culture

We live in a parallel universe. Here at ASCD, we are committed to ensuring that each child, in each school and in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. And one of the things we know for sure is that for that to happen for kids, the adults around them must also be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. That parallel need is particularly striking this month as we consider the best questions about school culture.

Culture—school, community, workplace, political, and so on—is a direct reflection of adult behaviors. Where adults bully, children will bully. Where adults cheat, children will cheat. Where adults feel and act helpless, children will feel and act helpless. Where adults are motivated to work hard, children will work hard. Where adults are supported by supervisors and colleagues, neighbors and friends, children will be supported. It's exactly that simple and exactly that complex.

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Molly McCloskey

Fast, Free, Online: Because You Can’t Wait to Get Better

ASCD School Improvement Tool

All educators want to improve what they do for kids, but they need help doing so. On a daily basis, we’re thinking, planning, and taking steps to improve school climate and culture, provide high-quality curriculum and instruction, be leaders, assess meaningfully, engage our families and communities, support our own professional development, build staff capacity, and more. How do we balance these multiple school improvement priorities in our schools and with one another?

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Mental Health

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..."; no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

More than 20 years ago, I spent one school year as the full-time school counselor in an early childhood center in Washington, D.C. Our enrollment was 250 full-day preK and kindergarten students in an old, huge brick building with 20-foot high ceilings and massive center courtyard-like hallways. I spent the year in easily washable clothes and with my hair in a ponytail at all times because, as anyone who has ever worked in early childhood can tell you, fancy clothes and fancy hair don't mix well with peanut butter and finger paint. It may have been the best job (before this one at ASCD, of course) that I ever had.

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Supportive Education Communities

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..."; no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

The best questions are those we ask ourselves. Personally. Individually. They are not the rhetoric-laden, subtly fault-finding or responsibility-avoiding calls to action that permeate Twitter posts and website headlines, but the first-person singular translations of those thoughts. What will I do? What do I do? How will I change? Although we find comfort in collective action and group activities, the real change, the real progress, and the real meaning comes from individual action based on individual reflection.

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Good Schools

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..."; no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

One of the great misconceptions of public opinion research on education is that everyone rates the school with which they are most familiar as good and "all those other schools" as bad. Turns out, there is just a smidge of truth to that notion. There are, in fact, good schools everywhere. They exist in every state, province, and country, in every demographic, configuration, and social economic circumstance. And good schools are good schools no matter where they are.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Educating the Whole Child: Top 5 Strategies for Educators

In a teleseminar recorded earlier this week, Molly McCloskey, managing director of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, was interviewed by ASCD author and Rutgers University professor Maurice J. Elias. McCloskey shared information about specific initiatives and examples of how a whole child approach ensures that each child, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Listen to the interview. [Right-Click to Save]

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Engaging Learning Strategies

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

It's been a few months since I've revisited the central questions of a whole child approach in this column, but if ever a topic begged me to pop the question (engagement pun intended), it is "engaging learning strategies." Let's ask ourselves,

  • Are our kids engaged (in their learning, school, and community)?
  • How do we know?
  • What have we done to make it so?
  • What have we taught them to keep it so?

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: Assessment

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

I've been working within ASCD's Whole Child Initiative for five years or so, and on issues related to a whole child approach to education for nearly 20 years. In that time, I've heard all the comments about whole child education being antiassessment and antirigor, and I usually counter with the dangers of academic pity that a whole child approach takes on, the challenged tenet, or (if I'm feeling particularly snarky) a Dr. Phil shout-out along the lines of, "how's that almighty test focus working for you so far?"

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Molly McCloskey

A Whole Child Approach to Education and the Common Core State Standards Initiative

A whole child approach to education is defined by policies, practices, and relationships that ensure each child, in each school, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. It engages all stakeholders—educators, families, policymakers, and community members—in defying the "percentage proficient" culture of too many school reform efforts, to focus on each child. And it further raises the bar of accountability beyond narrow, single-issue "improvement" strategies to efforts that reflect the broad array of factors influencing long-term success rather than short-term achievement.

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