Tagged “School Culture”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Survival Tips for New Principals

Post written by Ashley Allen, a master's student in communication management with an emphasis on marketing at the University of Southern California. She received her bachelor's degree from San Jose State University last spring and hopes to use her writing skills to make a difference.

Susan Kessler, April Snodgrass, and Andrew Davis of Nashville (Tenn.) Public Schools discussed the struggles of being a new principal and shared valuable insight for surviving the first year during their 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session "When Do You Sleep: Surviving the First Year as a Principal." The dynamic trio each shared tips that have played an integral part in their own success.

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Podcast Whole Child Podcast

ICYMI: Principals Share Advice on Whole Child Podcast

Principals are the key players in developing the climate, culture, and processes in their schools. They are critical to implementing meaningful and lasting school change and in the ongoing school-improvement process. There is also no doubt that the role—or roles—of a principal has changed dramatically in recent years and will likely change even more in upcoming decades.

In a 2013 episode of the Whole Child Podcast, ASCD's Sean Slade and Donna Snyder are joined by Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school), and Jessica Bohn, principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina and an ASCD Emerging Leader, to discuss the qualities principals in today's (and tomorrow's) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders.

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Jeffrey Benson

Four Frames for Principals, New and Experienced

I was working with an elementary principal. One of the school's 3rd grade classes had given him a list of responsibilities they assumed formed his job. He showed me the list and chuckled, until he got to an item that he said made him shudder far more than smile: "You fix everything."

That overwhelming mandate contains a big piece of the truth: almost everything that happens in the school is ultimately the responsibility of the principal. What is equally valid is the reality that one person cannot know everything, be everywhere, prevent all problems, and fix everything.

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Kevin T. Goddard

Motivation Matters

Middle school kids are a different breed. If you aren't motivating them, they are not learning. In fact, they are probably tearing something up if motivation isn't in the picture. During my years as a middle school principal, I figured out that building a school culture with character education, fun, and a sense of belonging was key to improving student achievement.

The year before I arrived at a junior high of 510 students, teachers sent students 5,090 times to the office for disciplinary infractions. Discipline was handled in three different ways: kick the kid out, let the kid sit on the bench outside the office and go to their next class with no consequence, or paddle them. The school board was very adamant that this building culture change.

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Roxanne Dove

Education Support Professionals: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

Jean G. Fay has no typical workday. Whether it's working one-on-one with a child with special needs, helping out in the cafeteria at lunchtime, sewing costumes for the school musical, or leading 40 2nd graders in the Crocker Farm Elementary hip-hop crew, she does it all! Jean is also known at Crocker Farm for her homemade cookies. Her kindergartners love to munch on them while they listen to her read "Junie B. Jones" stories. She wants to bring her love of reading to them every day, whether it's reading Simon James' "Baby Brains" books or poems by Emily Dickinson or T.S. Eliot.

Over the last 15 years, she has taught children to read, write, and do basic math; comforted children who were feeling sad; encouraged students in their social interaction; and helped them with all of their first steps in education. She has been there for them just as they begin learning to be learners and mastering the skills that they will need to be successful in life. On Thursday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays, she heads to her second job, at JCPenney at the local mall. Working at JCPenney has meant more than just paying the bills, though. She has used it as a way to help students and their families. Using her employee discount and the Massachusetts Child grant program, Jean has been able to buy clothes and school supplies for her students. When the father of one of her students passed away and the mother was struggling financially, Jean was able to use the Massachusetts Child program to purchase clothes for the children for their dad's funeral. Jean continues to be connected to this family today.

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Jason Flom

Keeping a Hidden Population Safe at School

What percentage of students is it okay to let feel unsafe at school?

  1. 0 percent
  2. 1 percent
  3. 5 percent
  4. 10 percent

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.

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Klea Scharberg

FIT Teaching: The Tool Kit for High-Quality Teaching and Learning

FIT Teaching: The Tool Kit for High-Quality Teaching and Learning - ASCD Summer AcademyGet 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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 4:30 p.m. eastern time
Register now!

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:

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Kevin Parr

End-of-Year Reflection: Think About the Whole Child

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.

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Whole Child Symposium

Sir Ken Robinson: Reclaiming the Elemental Purpose of Education

Post written by Laura Varlas

Sir Ken Robinson - 2014 ASCD Annual ConferenceLike most teenagers, Sir Ken Robinson had no idea what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"Life is a constant improvisation. How many of you, at the age of 15, accurately anticipated the life you've had?," he asked at his ASCD Annual Conference general session presentation last month.

"Your résumé conveys the myth that this was all planned. The last thing you want to do is convey the actual chaos you've been living through."

The path through your life appears as you take it, he explained, and finding your element implies tuning your ear to that inner voice that guides you along the journey. "It requires looking both beyond yourself and more deeply inside yourself to plot a course through your own talents and interests," Robinson noted.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Engaging Curriculum: A Foundation for Positive School Culture

Post written by David Hunter

As a curriculum designer who advocates for project-based learning, I strongly believe that curriculum plays a major role in the school culture but can often go unconsidered when developing a vision around that culture. At first glance, curriculum and culture may seem to be separate issues, but when you look deeper, curriculum can be a foundation for the culture because it's representative of how students are interacting with learning on a daily basis. To that end, creating a positive school culture requires that students play a part in curriculum design and implementation.

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