What was the key takeaway from this year's Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted by the Department of Education?
It's not a revelation that we need to focus on the big picture, not just the incident. We need to be deliberate about influencing the environment and culture that allows bullying behavior to take place.
ASCD conducted its second Whole Child Virtual Conference in May. This free conference showcases schools, authors, and research about implementing a whole child approach for a worldwide audience. View and share archived session recordings, presenter handouts, and related resources at www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference.
Gain further insight into ways to support a caring and positive school climate through these presentations:
"Today educators are interested in the whole life of the child. They are aware that experiences in school affect not only the child of today, but also the man of tomorrow. No longer is 'book learning' the total aim of the days and years of classroom attendance.
There is also the recognition that the health of the child determines his ability to deal with his school tasks. The next step toward understanding man at his various stages of development is being taken by recognizing that only the mentally healthy child can make full use of the tools for living handed him in school."
This quote is tailor-made for our look at what it means and takes for children to be mentally healthy. It was also written 63 years ago, in May 1949, by Dr. Mabel Ross, director of Prince George's County (Md.) Mental Health Clinic in ASCD's Educational Leadership magazine (read the article [PDF] and the full issue).
Post submitted by Jill Vialet, founder and CEO of whole child partner Playworks
A healthy, positive school environment transcends what goes on in the classroom. In fact, what happens at recess holds a crucial key to developing the whole child. A school that provides time and space for students to run, talk, and play helps ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Experience and research tell us that active students learn better, and daily recess is proven to help students focus in the classroom.
Unfortunately, recess can also be a headache. Elementary school principals say they face the most behavior issues at recess. Recess supervision can be challenging, compounding the stresses on a staff already spread thin with other responsibilities. And the demands on the schoolyard really are greater than we remember, with students often relying more on adult support in solving conflicts and many children stepping onto the playground knowing fewer games than did previous generations.
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.
Interestingly, yesterday's ASCD SmartBrief came out with the results of an Ed Pulse survey on which school health issue is of primary concern for schools and districts. The results showed physical activity and movement during the school day as a key concern among ASCD SmartBrief readers, second to bullying and other safety concerns. Just over 20 percent of respondents listed physical activity as their primary school health issue.
Post submitted by Katie Test, a communications specialist at ASCD. She has been an education reform advocate through public relations and communications for a variety of education organizations and school systems, including D.C. Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Public Schools and Durham (N.C.) Public Schools. Connect with Test on Twitter @ASCD or by e-mail at email@example.com.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and we at ASCD believe a whole child approach to education is the way to create safe and supportive school climates in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Bullying often is the unacceptable result of an unhealthy school climate. A whole child approach builds a positive school climate, which in turn reduces bullying and improves student attendance, engagement, empowerment, ownership, teaching, and learning.
Why do we have a month devoted to anti-bullying? Do we have a math month or a language arts month? OK, I take that back— it turns out we do have a "Math Awareness Month" and it is in April. Who knew?
So why do we have these months dedicated to an issue, or a subject, or an idea? It's because there isn't enough attention paid to the issue or it's because an issue exists. So what should our aim be for this dedicated month? Simply it should be to do away with the need for an Anti-Bullying Month altogether.
The study of ethics requires asking "What is right?" and "What is good?" In one form or another, most children ask these questions of themselves and their surroundings on a regular basis. As they mature into adolescents, justice issues—especially those that affect them—become a prominent part of this questioning process. For this reason, we consider ethics a great teaching opportunity.