Tagged “School Culture”

Ember Conley

Promising Whole Child Practices in Arizona

Nestled between the Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian Communities 30 miles south of Phoenix, Ariz., the city of Maricopa had a population of 1,060 in 2000, according to U.S. Census Data. In 2010, the population was 43,482. This exponential growth of more than 4,000 percent created new challenges and opportunities, including transitioning a small one-campus school district into a successful medium-sized district. Today the district has nine school sites with state-of-the-art facilities, including top-rated athletic fields, a state-recognized performing arts center, and a community facility for large forums.

Using ASCD's Whole Child Initiative framework, the Maricopa Unified School District (MUSD) has reached a new level of success. The staff and community in Maricopa are focused on ensuring that each child in the district is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged with a written, sustainable plan to continue the students' success.

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Kay Wejrowski

It’s All About the Leadership

Recently, I dropped off more than 100 certificates for our principal, Mat McRae, to sign for winners in our high school's March Into Reading challenge. For the contest, students could draw or paint a new cover for their favorite book; create a book out of metal, wood, clay, or the medium of their choice; or create a graphic design that promotes reading. When all the entries were in, we had nearly 300 projects to judge, out of a school of 650 students. Our principal's response to the overwhelming participation in our school was, "It's all about the leadership."

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Paula Mirk

Set an Authentic and Respectful Tone at the Top

"Tone at the Top" is a key research finding from our Schools of Integrity research project, so we know the vital part leadership plays in the process of building school cultures. Having worked frequently with great school principals who are deliberate and responsible about that role, there are specific qualities we now look for in leadership at our participating Ethical Literacy schools.

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Steven Weber

Whac-A-Mole Leadership

One of my favorite arcade games is Whac-A-Mole. When you drop your token in the machine, you have a limited amount of time to "whac" as many moles as you can. In the beginning of the game, one or two moles pop their heads up and it is fairly easy to hit each one. About twenty seconds into the game, the moles start popping up three at a time and when you smash a mole with the mallet it may pop up again.

Whac-A-Mole is similar to the daily routine of a principal. From the time you arrive at school in the morning until late in the evening, moles pop up. Your job is to address each mole and to prioritize which one is most important. In this article, I am going to describe the "six moles" a principal must address in order to be a good leader.

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Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Leveling and Raising the Playing Field

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Addressing students' needs levels the playing field. Or rather, addressing students' needs is only leveling the playing field. If a child is hungry, then the need can be addressed by providing breakfast, lunch, and assistance as needed. The same applies if the child is unwell. Many schools have made great strides in addressing students' needs, but some schools have gone further. They have taken an issue that was initially a need and used it to enhance and improve what the school offers.

Milwaukie High School, part of North Clackamas Schools in Milwaukie, Oregon, and winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award, is an outstanding school where each student is engaged in literacy, inspired by their cultural diversity, and ready for active citizenship. Milwaukie's staff works tirelessly to improve their students' academic, social, and emotional growth; to expand their educational practices; and sharpen the administration's focus on staff professional development, all to meet the needs of the whole child.

In this episode, hosts Sean Slade and Donna Snyder and our guests discuss how to meet students' and staff's needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. You'll hear from

  • Mark Pinder, principal;
  • Michael Ralls, assistant principal for curriculum;
  • Tim Taylor, assistant principal for student management;
  • Donnie Siel, dean of students; and
  • David Adams, teacher leader (English and language arts).

How has your school or community taken a challenge and turned it into a win?

Klea Scharberg

Throughout April: Principal Leadership

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. Principals who have a clear vision; inspire and engage others in embracing change for improvement; drive, facilitate, and monitor the teaching and learning process; and foster a cohesive culture of learning are the collaborative leaders our schools need to fully commit to ensuring each student—and school staff member—is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Join us throughout April as we look at what 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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Fred Ende

Exceeding Needs Through a Partnership Perspective

As a coordinator of science for a number of districts in the northern suburbs of New York City, I have the opportunity to work with schools with a tremendous array of needs. For some, finances are the primary culprit in educational challenges they face. In others, high populations of language learners or mobile student populations make it difficult to provide for each and every student. In still other cases, a combination of factors makes meeting student needs an uphill battle.

What's the common denominator? That every district, especially in today's educational climate, is facing drastic challenges. What's different is how districts and schools are dealing with those challenges. Are they embracing and working through them? Or are they brushed under the carpet, in hopes that "magical thinking" will take care of everything?

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Dawn Imada Chan

Three Strategies for Encouraging and Developing Student Voice

Even though student-centered learning is the foundation of student voice, the complexity and demands of teaching often make focusing on student voice yet another "add-on" for educators. However, as Toshalis and Nakkula (2012) assert, "student voice is the antithesis of depersonalized, standardized, and homogenized educational experiences because it begins and ends with the thoughts, feelings, visions, and actions of the students themselves" (p. 23).

Based on my experience as both a teacher and administrator, I suggest three action steps that educators can take to further incorporate student voice into their classrooms and schools.

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Thom Markham

Only Whole Children Can Make Schools Safe

In the long term, there is just one answer to the problem of school safety: more love. The short term solution, on the other hand, lies in the unhealthy mix of force, fear, guns, security, locks, and other devices meant to barricade our children from a small, but obviously lethal, subset of the population.

I'll leave the short-term answers to parents and politicians. Instead, let's support advances in education that take us closer to the ultimate goal of raising, nurturing, and educating children who feel psychologically safe. That, really, is the sole purpose of whole child education.

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Sean Slade

Improving Schools: School Safety

This month we are focusing on school safety, where the initial thought is to discuss physical safety as a reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy. Yet, in looking back over the articles written recently, there is less about physical safety and more about positive school climate, supportive environments, open doors, and inviting the community into schools.

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