In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each school, in each community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged and prepared for success in higher education, employment, and civic life.
This past weekend marked one year since the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. During this time, we read, listened to, and participated in discussions on how to keep our schools safe and secure. And also during this time, at least 25 school shootings have occurred, including Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School in Colorado. School safety is a complicated issue with no single or simple solution.
Post written by Carla Tantillo and Lara Veon, Mindful Practices
Among the most heartbreaking moments as an educator is that of observing a student who doesn't believe in herself and sees a mistake—be it a social interaction gone bad or a failing grade—as a fracture of character instead of an opportunity for growth. Similarly upsetting is witnessing a student who experiences trauma and loss withdraw or act out in unpredictable and often disruptive behavior.
At moments like these resilience often seems an inconsistent trait. However, similarly to other social-emotional skills, the practice of helping students cultivate resilience can indeed be taught. It needn't occur in isolation and it should be taught with a whole child approach. Below are five strategies for integrating resiliency development into your classroom:
Educators may bear the brunt of school performance criticisms, but the public's opinion of educators is on the rise, with the majority of Americans believing that educators teach students well and keep them safe. More than 70 percent of Americans have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in public schools, according to the 45th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll (PDF) on the public's attitude toward public schools. Eighty-eight percent of parents feel their children are safe at school—the highest figure ever recorded by the poll—compared to the 66 percent who believe their children are safe playing in their neighborhood.
As demonstrated by the tragic events of not only the last few months in Connecticut, Georgia, and California, but also the last 10 years across the nation, school safety is a complicated issue with no single or simple solution. We have read, listened to, and participated in discussions on how to keep our schools safe and secure. From our homes, faculty rooms, school board meetings, and the halls of Congress, we are all moving from shock to recovery, fear to resiliency.
Post written by Martin J. Blank and Ryan Fox, Coalition for Community Schools
Walking through the halls of John C. Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles with senior Kevin Valiencia, one finds an unexpected inner city public school in one of the most maligned neighborhoods in the country.
A climate of cooperation, enthusiasm, unity, and endless possibilities permeate throughout school. A strong juxtaposition with the surrounding community in which neighborhoods blocks apart from each other are often at war. Kevin himself has seen a friend stabbed, drive-by shootings, and police raids near his home.
It's not that the troubles found in other schools don't exist inside Fremont. Less than 40 percent of its students graduate in four years and test scores still lag behind state averages. But the angst and conflict found in many other struggling urban schools is minimal at Fremont. The suspension rate at Fremont is far below the rates at other high schools in the district. While the dropout rate is still very high, those numbers are gradually improving. Nearly 85 percent of those that did graduate in 2009 and 2010 continued on to a postsecondary education.
"There's unity (at Fremont)," Kevin said. "We're all in this together."
Fostering trusting relationships between adults and students is the most effective way to improve school safety, a panel of experts told members of Congress during a recent House Education Committee hearing convened in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The quintessential role of educators is to provide safe environments for children to flourish emotionally, academically, and physically. As we discuss safety, it is important to consider care—a magic bullet in this conversation.
Creating a safe and supportive learning environment is a critical to a whole child approach to education. Usually when we reflect and work on implementing the Whole Child Tenets in our schools, we forget one critical component in making them manifest: the students. Students are as important as actors in creating a safe school as teachers. They can be actors in helping create a safe learning environment, and project-based learning (PBL) projects can be a way in which we harness that service and target learning in the content areas. Here are some project ideas I have done or have seen other educators create.
Much like that of educating the whole child, how to make our learning environments safe places in which to teach and learn is a rich and complex discussion in our current education landscape. Our Mindful Practices team teaches in schools throughout Chicago—in the most under-resourced neighborhoods to the most affluent suburbs. Although each community might actively address school safety in different ways, we've found that incorporating yoga as a social-emotional learning tool into the school day increases the sense of internal and external safety for educators and students, thus creating a better learning environment for everyone.
Below are five ways that yoga can help educators create safety in their classrooms and schools, including links to activities that anyone can start using today.