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.
Safety is and always will be a fundamental concern for schools. Students who aren't or don't feel safe at school cannot learn, and schools must ensure that their environments are both secure and supportive. The current debate on school safety brings with it a renewed interest in addressing safety, school climate, and mental health concerns at schools and promises to improve school policy and practice.
Yet while the current debate has engaged the nation in communitywide discussions, it also has the potential to overlook the voice of educators. Join us throughout February as we look at what educators (teachers, administrators, and counselors) believe is crucial to making our schools safe—not just physically safe, but also safe places to teach and learn. What can educators do to implement and reinforce the conditions for learning where students are physically and emotionally safe; learn to manage their emotions and relationships positively; and are connected to the school, community, and caring adults?
Establishing a thriving learning environment is instrumental in students obtaining personal success. We must be strategic in how we develop our classroom communities at the beginning of a new school year. The setting must support the whole child, adapting to the needs of the group as everyone settles in for the yearlong learning journey. The environment must specifically be designed to support the health and safety of our students, strengthening the emotional well-being of each individual. Providing an atmosphere that supports learning endeavors from every angle offers students many opportunities to be truly engaged and challenged.
But how do we guarantee that we WILL develop a solid foundation that supports the whole child?
Byrne Creek Secondary School opened its doors to students for the first time in September 2005. The school was planned and built to solve an overcrowding problem in the south part of Burnaby. Planning and opening any new school has challenges; Byrne Creek was faced with additional problems. The community had the highest number of refugee students in the metro area of Vancouver, with the majority of refugees from Afghanistan and Africa. Many were functionally illiterate in their own language and had faced hardships such as famine, war, and other atrocities in their own countries. Two inner city elementary schools in the Byrne Creek neighborhood had been trying to support these families and were very helpful in making recommendations. In addition, the neighborhood is a low income and working class income socioeconomic community. The issues being faced by the elementary schools foreshadowed the challenges that the new Byrne Creek Secondary would face.
Post submitted by whole child blogger Caroline Newton, a sophomore at Temple University. Newton is studying journalism and writes for Jump: The Philly Music Project magazine.
Studies show that 30 percent of high school graduates must take some type of remediation at the college level. What is it about the current structure of education that is failing students? The Whole Child Tenets aim to assist educators in creating a system that caters to each student's individual needs and prepare them for lifelong success. At ASCD's recent Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., Molly McCloskey, managing director of ASCD's Whole Child Initiative, was joined by Bill Hughes, superintendent of Greendale School District in Greendale, Wis., in a discussion of the whole child approach.
Ten years ago, ASCD created the Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA) program to recognize creative and committed teachers and administrators under the age of 40 who are making a difference in children's lives. Since 2002, the OYEA program has combed through thousands of applications to identify young educators who embody a whole child approach to education and are leaders in the classroom as well as in their communities.
Post submitted by Elham Palestine executive director Huthayfa Jalamna and communication specialist Alla Atari. Elham is a nationwide program extending throughout Gaza and the West Bank that aims to improve the physical, mental, psychological, and social well-being of Palestinian children and enhance their learning environments to become more conducive to that well-being. It is the Middle East setting of whole child partner Learning for Well-Being and focuses on the principles and framework developed by the Universal Education Foundation.
Imagine growing up under one of the most controversial political conflicts in the world. Today millions of Palestinian children are spending their childhood living in unstable and harsh environments to the detriment of their learning and development. Palestinian principals, teachers, counselors, and even students are striving to provide a healthy and stimulating learning environment despite the lack of resources and the stressful atmosphere.
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 community, is healthy, engaged, supported, and challenged and is college-, career-, and citizenship-ready. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2011.
Post submitted by Monica A.F. Lounsbery, PhD, professor and director of the Physical Activity Policy Research Program, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas.
Schools, through recess, physical education, and other programs, provide opportunities for children to accrue their recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Of these settings, physical education is perhaps the most important because it is a required part of the education curriculum and provides the only opportunity some children have to engage in vigorous activity and learn movement skills that will last a lifetime. Participating in physical activity during recess is voluntary, but nonetheless many children are active during it, especially when it is held outdoors.