All educators want to improve the work they do for students, their families, and the community. Whether it's instruction, school climate, leadership, family engagement, or any of the other issues schools face on a daily basis, all educators need tools to help them improve their actions and methods. A whole child approach sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success.
ASCD's third annual Whole Child Virtual Conference is a free, online event that provides a forum and tools for schools and districts working toward sustainability and changing school cultures to serve the whole child. Built on the theme, "Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture," the conference will be held May 6–10, with international pre-conference sessions held on Friday, May 3, for Australasian and European audiences. The conference features presentations from renowned speakers, educators, authors, and education experts who have successfully implemented a whole child approach in schools around the world, including ASCD Vision in Action award-winning schools and Whole Child Network schools.
Below, we hear from Finnish educator, ASCD Board member, and Whole Child Virtual Conference presenter Pasi Sahlberg, whose session, "The Finnish Experience and the Whole Child," will be held Wednesday, May 8, 10:00–11:00 a.m. eastern time.
Two powerful and seemingly competing themes dominate today's educational landscape: innovation and accountability. Many educational leaders are drawn to the promise and potential of new ideas and technologies while working in the reality of an age of high-stakes tests. Although some see this as a historical pendulum swing from one end to another, educational leaders might instead see the two as intertwined. Principals are uniquely poised to help bring these two facets together in a way that benefits students and staff alike.
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?
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.
Four years ago on the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States, we titled our Whole Child Newsletter "Someday Happens," reflecting a T-shirt I saw at the ceremonies that day. Today, independent of political views, I'm wondering when someday will happen for the millions of kids promised a "free and appropriate public education." Although that phrase was first introduced in reference to children with disabilities, it applies too often to kids from all walks of life in all parts of the United States.
Whether you are a parent, educator, or community member, you can help turn political rhetoric about "investing in the future of our children" into reality. Join ASCD in helping your school, district, and community move from a vision for educating the whole child to sustainable, collaborative action. States and school districts across the country are adopting policies and practices to better educate the whole child, but we can do more.
Updated with critical research and real-world examples of education policies and practices that ensure students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child (PDF) is a free advocacy tool that you can use as you work with policymakers, the media, and other groups. You can also add your local statistics and success stories so that decision makers in your community understand the difference a whole child education can make.
My sense is that most educators view the Common Core State Standards as another inconvenience, yet another requirement to meet in our classrooms. However, I would argue that the standards present us with an incredibly unique set of opportunities if we choose to embrace them as a collective opportunity. Knowing that we may have to restructure what we do and how we do it, we have the opportunity to truly reexamine our practice and adjust it accordingly to better meet the academic needs of our students. Additionally, and perhaps more crucially, we don't necessarily need to limit our focus on our students' academic needs.
Teachers matter. They have an extraordinary, positive, and lasting effect on their students. Students with high-performing teachers can progress three times as fast as students with low-performing teachers, and each student deserves access to highly effective teachers in every subject.
So, how do we know which teachers are effective? All teachers deserve a fair and accurate assessment of their skills, how they perform in the classroom, and how they can improve. Teacher effectiveness is dependent on these accurate and fair evaluations that are based on multiple measures, including—but not solely based on—their students' performance in the subjects they teach.
What is shared and different about evaluation systems that rate teachers' skills and evaluation systems that raise teachers' skills?
In this video, Educational Leadership Editor in Chief Marge Scherer talks with Bob Marzano about what's driving renewed interest in teacher evaluation and how evaluation systems differ if their primary purpose is rating teachers, versus improving teaching. Learn more with ASCD Express.