Educators across the nation are working to improve their students' academic achievement, engage families and communities in learning, and maintain safe and healthy learning environments. But in Washington State's Tacoma Public Schools, educators are being held accountable for all of these responsibilities, not just their students' performance on tests. That's because the district is strategically aligning its accountability system with its overall purpose of supporting the whole child.
What percentage of students is it okay to let feel unsafe at school?
You, like me, probably answered zero percent. As an educator dedicated to a whole child approach to education, you recognize the value of each and every learner.
What if I told you we have allowed (albeit unintentionally in most cases), if not contributed to, an entire population of students feeling unsafe at school? A population of students you are most likely rooting for as they enter adulthood and pursue equal rights.
Get hands-on practice using the new FIT Teaching (Framework for Intentional and Targeted Teaching®) tool kit to help ensure high-quality teaching and learning. Join ASCD authors Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in a free webinar on June 4 to learn more.
The synergy of all the tools in a teacher's tool kit is what makes for high-quality instruction. Based on the work of Fisher and Frey, the FIT Teaching® tool kit provides teachers with these tools and skills around four essential elements to help ensure high-quality teaching and learning in every classroom. The essential elements are:
As the school year winds down, teachers are spending as much time reflecting on the past year as they are thinking about a summer filled with sit-down lunches, obligation-free evenings and weekends, and restful nights without dreaming about school.
Throughout the year teachers reflect continuously on particular interactions with students, a given lesson, or even a whole school day because they realize it is the key to improving their practice. At the end of the year, however, teachers should take time reflect on how things went overall to set themselves and their students up for success next year. Without a framework to guide teachers, reflecting on the entire school year can easily turn into spiraling self-talk with few results other than "this was the worst year ever" or "this was the best year ever." Nevertheless, teachers can engage in focused reflection that will truly help them to better meet the needs of the kids they will meet in September.
Post written by Lora M. Hodges for Northeast Foundation for Children/Responsive Classroom, a whole child partner organization.
Morale can be hard to define, but you know it when you see it. When you walk into a school and everything immediately feels calm, safe, respectful, rich with learning, you know you're standing in a school with high morale.
That's exactly how you'd feel if you were to walk in to one of the many schools in the nation using the research-based Responsive Classroom approach. You'd see and hear teachers showing patience, kindness, and respect toward each other and toward students. You'd observe engaging lessons in classrooms. Throughout the school you'd hear adults using positive language and drawing forth positive behaviors from students. You'd get the clear sense the adults like their jobs and the children want to be at school.
This is positive school culture. This is high morale. And this is indispensable to students' school success.
Morale isn't built in isolation ... and neither is it something tangible that we can point to and say, "There it is!" Rather, it is a force that builds and rises out of the ashes of our daily actions and interactions.
As educators and educational leaders, words such as data, accountability, and achievement have been ingrained into our daily vocabulary. We look for the tangible ... the visible, those things that we can monitor and measure. As educators, very seldom have we been able to avoid the words of W. Edwards Deming's famous quote, "In God we trust; all others must bring data."
Education Week's 2013 Quality Counts report investigated the effect of a school's social and disciplinary environment on students' ability to learn and the educators responsible for teaching them. Watch this video to explore some of the ways to configure school design to support a positive school culture. Discover how some schools are creating flexible, adaptable learning spaces that encourage collaboration and reimagine schools as student-centered communities of learners.
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." —Aristotle
Many at-risk students in schools are crying out for help with their real-life issues, yet many educators respond with an emphasis on academic proficiency skills. With today's stress on academic achievement at all costs with little regard for the mental, social, physical, emotional, or spiritual aspects of the whole student, many teachers teach tests and not students. Students become grade-point averages and not people. And many students tune out and drop out, literally or figuratively. What do our at-risk students need? What can you do to make a difference?
Teacher morale matters. So how can schools improve it? The February 2014 issue of Educational Leadership explores why schools must become happier places for educators and how they can make it happen. Articles in this issue discuss both the reality that educators feel underappreciated and the small—or radical—changes everyone connected to schools can make to give educators reasons for optimism.
In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes that it's easy to list problems that contribute to low morale, but what is it that builds high morale? How do we rise above the anger and apathy engendered by simultaneously being treated as objects of distrust and being expected to change the world?
ASCD continually seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that face educators of all levels. A recent ASCD SmartBrief ED Pulse poll asked readers asked readers what they feel is most important in building educator morale at a school.