Tagged “School Staff Wellness”

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates

News

Ontario Students Start Own Food Revolution: Some students from Ontario High School in southern California launched a campaign to improve the nutritional quality of the food at their school. Students stated that healthier food leads to decreased tardiness, increased attendance, better test scores, and higher graduation rates as part of their justification of their demands. (www.dailybulletin.com)

Canadian Program Teaches Students Empathy: Roots of Empathy, a Canadian program that teaches students social and emotional lessons by having a parent and baby regularly visit a classroom, has expanded to the United States. Mary Gordon, the Canadian educator who founded the program in 1996, said her goal was to teach students empathy to prevent issues such as violence and neglect later in life. Students watch parents interact with their babies, and studies show reduced aggression among students and improvement in how they treat others. (ASCD Worldwide Edition SmartBrief, 5/24)

Researchers to Study Effects of Teacher Stress on the Classroom: Researchers at the University of Houston are about to embark on a three-year study looking at how chronic stress among middle-school teachers can affect the classroom, including teacher well-being and student performance. Results from a preliminary pilot study showed that educators older than 55 were better able to manage their stress, suggesting a scenario where veteran teachers could be paired with newer educators in the classroom. (ASCD SmartBrief, 5/31)

Resources

Miss the Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference?: The archived sessions of the inaugural Healthy School Communities (HSC) Virtual Conference are currently available for free. Also, let HSC staff know if you have an idea for a future presentation by filling out the feedback form. (www.ascd.org/hsc)

Rate Your School's Readiness in Emergencies: The American Red Cross has just launched ReadyRating.org to help schools better prepare for emergencies. Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that can assist schools in determining levels of emergency preparedness deal and provides customized feedback on how they can improve their efforts. (ED's Safe & Supportive Schools News, 5/26)

Take Action

CVS Community Grants for Public Schools: CVS Caremark will provide grant funding of up to $5,000 for proposed programs that are fully inclusive for children with disabilities in early childhood, adolescent, and teenage programs that encourage health and rehabilitation or physical movement and play. Deadline is October 31, 2011. (http://info.cvscaremark.com)

Coca-Cola Company Supports Communities with Healthy Living: The Coca-Cola Foundation Community Support Program will fund organizations in these areas: water stewardship, healthy active living, community recycling, and education. Healthy active living includes providing access to exercise, physical activity, and nutritional education programs. Award amount varies. Eligible applicants must be tax-exempt organizations with 501(c)(3) status. Deadline: Rolling. (www.thecoca-colacompany.com)

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Focusing on Student Data and Community Involvement Are Keys for Local Schools that are "Beating the Odds"

This article originally appeared in the Michigan ASCD monthly online publication, The Source, in May 2011. Additional schools will be sharing their stories throughout the year.

There are real success stories in Michigan school buildings that are considered by some to have traditional barriers to academic achievement, the Michigan Department of Education reports.

Over 100 schools in Michigan are finding ways to overcome the identifiable risk factors to low student achievement, such as low economic status, race and ethnicity, or proficiency with the English language.

"These are schools that are doing remarkable things to help their students achieve, despite the odds being stacked against them," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. The Michigan Department of Education conducted two separate studies to identify schools that are "beating the odds." One study identified 63 schools that are performing above their predicted levels, based on risk factors. The second study identified 72 schools that perform better than a comparison group of schools with similar demographics.

Of the 135 schools identified, 20 schools including 18 elementary, one middle, and one high school, beat the odds in light of both studies' criteria and were interviewed and profiled for this release. Six additional schools met both criteria, however were not profiled because they are gifted and talented magnet schools. The schools represent districts from across the spectrum of the state, from large urban districts to suburban and remote rural schools.

Michigan ASCD has invited these schools to share their stories with you. In this first installment in the series, read how Deerfield Elementary School in the Novi Community School District has worked to create a school with soul.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates

News

Combining Academics and Exercise Improves Children's Test Scores: Children who participated in a 40-minute, five-day-a-week physical education program that also incorporated academic lessons had improved scores in standardized reading tests after the initiative, according to a study presented in the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. "These data indicate that when carefully designed physical education programs are put into place, children's academic achievement does not suffer," study coauthor Kathryn King said. (ASCD SmartBrief, 5/3)

Nutrition Guidelines Are Important for Bag Lunches, Too: Schools are providing more nutritious lunches with lower levels of fat and sodium because of federal regulations, but lunches that children bring from home often don't measure up, says registered dietitian Kate Dorr, who studied the issue in several schools in New York State. She said healthy packed lunches should include sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, fresh fruits and veggies, and milk or 100 percent juice, with an eye toward low levels of fat and saturated fat and high levels of iron, calcium, and fiber. (ASCD SmartBrief, 5/4)

Resources

USDA Encourages the Purchase of Local Agricultural Products for Child Nutrition Programs: The full text of the final rule for the Geographic Preference Option for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in Child Nutrition Programs is now available. For answers to common questions on the application of the geographic preference option in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products, please see USDA memorandum SP 18-2011. Contact the Farm to School Team for additional questions or information. (www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth)

Free Book on Reducing Teen Sexual Risk: Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk is a new book by Douglas Kirby that offers a research-based, step-by-step guide to understanding seven sexual-psychosocial factors that affect sexual behavior. Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk helps program planners, policymakers, district administrators, and youth-serving organizations design, adapt, and select curriculum-based programs to effectively address critical factors that affect teens' sexual decision making. (www.etr.org/pub)

Department of Education Releases 2010 Digest of Education Statistics: The U.S. Department of Education has released its Digest of Education Statistics for 2010. The digest compiles statistical information related to American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. Chapter Two particularly focuses on elementary and secondary education, with statistics on student support professionals. (ED's Safe & Supportive Schools News, 5/5)

Take Action

Register for the Inaugural Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference: Please join ASCD's Healthy School Communities from May 10–13, 2011, for the first-ever Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference. Take part in this free conference to learn more about health and learning. Topics will include

  • Aligning health and education in the school setting.
  • Improving school lunches and nutrition.
  • Physical activity and physical education across the school day.
  • Social, emotional, and mental health.
  • Staff wellness.
  • The Healthy School Communities model.

Join Healthy School Communities staff, mentor and mentee sites, ASCD authors, invited speakers, and guests to find out more about what's working across the United States and Canada and share health and learning stories. Registration is free, so register now! Space is limited for each session. (www.ascd.org/hsc)

Ontario's Healthy School Recognition Program: Ontario schools are invited to participate in and accept the Healthy Schools Challenge. Participating schools will be recognized with a certificate and pennant to display in their school. To participate in the program, a school community first pledges to do a healthy activity and then must actually do it. See what other schools who have successfully participated have done to accept the challenge. (www.edu.gov.on.ca)

Ask Your U.S. Senator to Attend Congressional Briefing on School Climate: A briefing
entitled "Enhancing Conditions for Student Learning and Academic Achievement Through Social Emotional and Character Development," will be held in Washington, D.C., this Thursday, May 12, 2011, at the Senate Dirksen Office Building (Ground Floor, Room 11, 10:00 a.m.–11:15 a.m.).

Contact your U.S. senators' offices and ask them or one of their staff to attend. Whole child partner the National School Climate Center suggests the following steps:

  • Inform them you are calling about an upcoming briefing related to an education issue important to the schools nationwide or schools in your community.
  • State you would like to speak to the staff in the senator's office who works on education legislation issues about inviting them to the briefing. This is usually the legislative director and education legislative assistant.
  • If you are not able to speak to the staff at this time, ask how to e-mail or fax information about the briefing. You do not want to use the U.S. mail, as it takes too long to get to their offices.
  • Follow up with an e-mail or fax with the briefing information. In your follow-up, always give a short specific WHY it is important to have national support for social, emotional, and character development in your schools and a thank you. View a sample letter you could use to send as well as a formal invitation. Note: If possible please add a small paragraph to the letter of a specific example of why this is important to your community or local school.
  • Follow up with a reminder to attend the briefing on May 9 or 10.

Ask for support of continued funding for the Safe and Supportive Schools grants and the inclusion of language in support of social, emotional and character development in current U.S. Department of Education programs. Contact Linda McKay if you need help in obtaining specific Senate office contact information or have further questions. (www.schoolclimate.org)

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

Healthy School Communities

Aligning Health and Education in the School Setting

HSC Model

How do we go about aligning health and education? How do we set out to overlap and link these entities that have traditionally been divided and siloed? The first step is belief. The second is action.

To better align, coordinate, and link health and education in the school setting, we must expand the conversation to include educators (teachers, school staff, and administrators) and community members (families, businesses, and agencies). A new publication, The Healthy School Communities Model: Aligning Health & Education in the School Setting (PDF), describes the actions that schools and communities need to take to realize systemic change that improves the health, well-being, growth, and development of their students, staff, and schools. The actions are divided into nine levers of change:

  1. The Principal as Leader
  2. Active and Engaged Leadership
  3. Distributive Leadership
  4. Integration with the School Improvement Plan
  5. Effective Use of Data for Continuous School Improvement
  6. Ongoing and Embedded Professional Development
  7. Authentic and Mutually Beneficial Community Collaborations
  8. Stakeholder Support of Local Efforts
  9. The Creation or Modification of School Policy Related to the Process

The Healthy School Communities model proposes a change in the way we have typically viewed health and education and schools' role in the development of the whole child. Great strides have been taken and implemented through the coordinated school health model; however its effect up to now has too often been sporadic, temporary, or marginal.

Comments and discussions concerning this publication can be directed to the ASCD EDge HSC discussion board. Join Healthy School Communities staff, mentor and mentee sites, ASCD authors, invited speakers, and guests this week at the first-ever (and free) Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference, May 10–13, 2011, to learn more about health and learning. Register today!

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates

News

Color-Coded Lunch Trays Teach Students About Nutrition: Jessica Alonzo was named one of the teachers of the year in her Long Branch, N.J., school district for her proposal to help students make better nutrition choices by using color-coded lunch trays that correlate with proper proportions of healthy foods. Also, an area preschool created a vegetable garden to help teach young students about healthy eating, and another school asked the PTA to substitute fruits for less healthy snacks.

Read more »

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Embracing the Whole Child in the Middle Grades

Post written by Rick Allen and was originally featured in Education Update.

When the community of O'Fallon, Ill., decided that it needed a second middle grades school to serve a growing population, district education leaders saw it as an ideal opportunity to construct a whole child school from the ground up. In fall 2009, the Amelia V. Carriel Junior High School received its first enrollment of more than 700 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who, like their teachers, were delighted by the state-of-the-art facility.


Floor plan by FGM Architects

ASCD began the Whole Child Initiative three years ago to refocus the conversation among state and national policymakers on more integral ways to view learning and reform education. Nancy Gibson, superintendent of O'Fallon School District No. 90 and a current ASCD board member, explains that Carriel Junior High adopted the whole child design and instructional strategy to meet the academic, physical, psychological, and social needs of its young adolescents. To prevent reducing schooling to a narrow focus on curriculum and test scores, a whole child approach promotes the development of children who are healthy and safe in the school environment, engaged in learning and community life, supported by caring and qualified adults, and challenged academically so that they can succeed in college and the workplace.

Gibson says she used home visits, coffee klatches, and other public meetings to engage parents in understanding the importance of addressing all aspects of students' learning through the whole child education approach. The district serves 3,500 students in five elementary schools and two junior high schools.

School Design Reflects Student Needs

The physical environment of Carriel Junior High reflects the core elements of the whole child approach. "We wanted the building to be designed around educating the body, mind, and spirit: the 'mind' being the academic wing; the 'body' being where physical education, fitness, nutrition, and health are taught; and the 'spirit' being the inner core of the building—which has a theater; rooms for art and music, band, and chorus; and the library," Gibson explains. The school's painting scheme also reflects the different aspects of a student's entire learning experience: blue-green and copper represent the mind, eggplant tones for the body, and gold for the spirit.

Gibson views the school's central core as the hub that ties together all three areas. For example, the combination cafeteria/theater, called a theatorium, seats 500 in three terraces before a stage and also provides a much-needed public space for community groups and school events. For example, last fall the junior high jazz band held a junior high-senior citizens swing dance and jazz concert that had both groups dancing.

Preparing Students for the 21st Century

At the national level, middle grades advocates are reminding policymakers that their grade levels should be recognized as the crucial bridge between elementary school and high school. Because students often become disaffected with school in the middle grades, resources spent on promoting and implementing best practices at the middle school level positively impact high school outcomes, experts say (See the July Education Update article, "Caught in the Middle").

With an eye to their students' futures, O'Fallon school officials sought to promote and hone 21st century workplace skills such as teaming, speaking and presentation, and interdisciplinary studies. Carriel Junior High has 21st century rooms with computer projection screens on the first floor linked to each grade-level wing. With lots of windows to let in natural light and located to face the wooded area and creek behind the school for access to outdoor education opportunities, the oversized 21st century rooms can serve two or more classes for interdisciplinary lessons.

In addition, teachers undergo extensive professional development that combines training in integrating technology and workshops in backward curriculum design and differentiated instruction. The technology training allows teachers to check out and use devices such as interactive whiteboards and tablet PCs and other wireless devices to drive and enhance their lessons in the 21st century rooms, Gibson says.

Interdisciplinary teacher teams plan weekly. To emphasize the importance of collaboration, teachers' personal desks, file cabinets, and computers are located in teacher planning rooms.

"The best thing you can do is to get professional educators to sit down and talk about kids on a regular basis," says Carriel principal Douglas Woods.

Previously, principals received training to foster professional learning community staff development. The district has also laid the groundwork for a response to intervention model, to start in the fall, that will emphasize teaming, data-based decision making, and collaboration on monitoring and interventions for students.

Seeking School Equity

Edward A. Fulton Junior High School, O'Fallon's other middle grades school that was built 10 years, also underwent a $2 million remodeling to mirror aspects of the new sister school, Gibson says. Fulton students are now clustered into grade-level "houses," and teacher teams have common planning time. Like Carriel, Fulton also has a new communications lab, which will allow students to create television and video projects, and separate grade-level computer labs.

"Our parents wanted equity, and we did too, for the kids," Gibson explains. In O'Fallon both middle grades schools engage parents, expand students' learning opportunities, and provide innovative and creative strategies for reaching and teaching the whole child.

Photos by Mark Ballogg

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Muddle-Free Middle Schools

Samuel Dasher

Post written by Samuel Dasher, principal of Louisville Middle School in Louisville, Ga., and a member of ASCD's Emerging Leaders Class of 2007. This post was originally featured in ASCD Express.

I am one who believes that there is no "muddle in the middle." Middle schools have taken the brunt of the attack from critics of education for as long as they have been in existence. The reason for the criticism is that most critics (and people in general) really don't understand how a middle school child functions and, as a result, misunderstand the purpose and strategies that make middle schools work.

Middle school children are like no other students the average educator will come in contact with. (Is that a chorus of "Amens"?) They are a massive bundle of raging hormones pent up in bodies that are growing faster on average than they have since infancy, struggling to come to grips with the rigors and responsibilities of young adulthood. While all of this is going on, they are fighting for social independence and, at the same time, maintaining a death grip on their families. Middle school students can be summed up in one word: confusing. However, despite the daily challenges and frustrations of working with middle-graders, middle schools do work.

For a middle school to function efficiently and effectively, it needs to have several factors in place. I am not listing these elements as a specific recipe for success, but I believe that they certainly improve the possibility for the success of any school.

A Truly Dedicated Staff

I was told early in my career that the best middle school educators have a little bit of middle school student in them. I believed it then and swear by it now, with a slight modification: I believe it takes a certain kind of teacher to understand the middle school child. As a school administrator, it is my responsibility to make sure that I have a staff that is dedicated to understanding, working with, and ensuring the success of every child in their charge every day.

I have been blessed with a staff that goes above and beyond on their own initiative—calling students at home to go over homework, accepting my open-door policy for parents without complaint (and encouraging parents to attend classes), staying after school or coming in early to work one-on-one with struggling students, and the list goes on and on. I am very proud of the work the teachers do, and they, along with the parents, are the greatest reason for our success.

A great deal of what my staff does is intrinsically motivated and the result of hard work to change the professional climate of the school. Teachers have the support of other teachers and the school's administration, and there is extremely effective communication among all levels of school personnel. Teachers are also afforded the opportunity to see administrators model our expectations when we are invited into classes to teach and coteach. This support allows teachers to feel free to strive for higher standards through innovation and creativity, without fear of undue criticism. We do ask teachers to explain what they are doing, but in the questioning, we create a true professional learning culture within the school that benefits both educators and students.

My school also provides several types of rewards and fun activities for our staff. They can be rewarded with passes to skip certain duties, which administrators will then pick up for them. The administration often cooks for teachers, with appreciation lunches in the teachers lounge, and twice a year we have a cookout on an early-release day. Our teachers and students have also developed a healthy sense of competition, with each grade level striving to achieve higher levels of academic achievement across content areas. In addition, we have pep rallies and teacher–student basketball and dodgeball games. Remarkably, teachers consider these activities as much of a reward as students do.

Discipline

I consistently tell my teachers that nothing comes from chaos except more chaos. With this idea in mind, when my leadership team and I accepted the challenge of turning around our school, discipline and the curriculum were top concerns.

For all their blossoming independence, middle school students (like anyone else) just want to know what is expected and what their boundaries are. They will test them, but they want to know how far they can go. Once those boundaries are set, all you need to do is enforce them. There will always be those who try to beat the system, but the overwhelming majority of students will stay within the set boundaries.

Freedom and Respect

These principles apply to both students and teachers. Middle school is a time of exploration as students begin to map out definite ideas and plans for their futures and develop their own unique identities. Students have to be allowed to feel like a part of their education and to make some decisions about what they will do in the future.

Giving students this limited freedom and deserved respect will go a long way toward helping them mature and showing them the same respect we expect as teachers. Teachers have to be respected and trusted as professionals to do what is in the best interest of the child within the confines of the curriculum, standards, and policy. Teachers who are given professional respect and freedom will often return results well beyond expectations.

Hard Work

There is no miracle cure for what may ail a middle school, but there is a plan: hard work.

When I arrived at my school, we were in our seventh year of "needs improvement," according to state mandates, and the climate of the school left a great deal to be desired. At the end of my fifth year as principal, our school can lay claim to the following: We have made AYP for three years in a row. We have watched discipline referrals fall to a fraction of the number they were the year before my assistant principals and I arrived. Teachers have become leaders and taken an active role in the successful operation of the school. And, most important, we have all watched young men and young ladies succeed academically and take the initiative to control their futures.

Middle schools can work, and many of them work extremely well; we just have to take the time as educational leaders to understand them.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates

News

Can We Really Do Without School Nurses? Education budget cuts are forcing districts to prioritize which non-mandatory programs they can do without. Unfortunately for many public schools, the school nurse may be one of the first victims of the cutbacks. According to Parenting.com, less than half of U.S. public schools have a full-time registered nurse available to students.

Partnerships Help Colorado's School Health Clinics Grow: The number of school-based health clinics is rising in Colorado, partly because of a decision by officials years ago to secure funding through partnerships with private organizations. The state first established school-based clinics in 1978 and has since seen a steady growth in the centers.

'Chefs Move to Schools' Helps Improve School Meals: A part of Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative, the Chefs Move to Schools program brings volunteer chefs into schools to encourage healthier eating through menu changes, cooking demonstrations, and school gardens.

Resources

Little Evidence That Zero-Tolerance Discipline Policies Are Effective: A new Child Trends brief highlights rigorously evaluated, nonpunitive alternatives to zero tolerance that have shown promise in improving school safety and student outcomes. The brief, Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-Based, Nonpunitive Alternatives to Zero Tolerance, also finds a lack of rigorous research on the effectiveness of zero-tolerance school discipline policies and that the existing research shows no evidence that these policies decrease school violence.

Prepare for Children's Mental Health Awareness Day 2011: National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a day to join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), communities, organizations, agencies, and individuals nationwide in raising awareness that positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. This year, the national theme will focus on building resilience in young children dealing with trauma.

Take Action

Save the Date for the Inaugural Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference: Please join us May 10–13, 2011, for the first-ever Healthy School Communities Virtual Conference. Take part in this free online conference to learn more about health and learning. Topics will include:

  • Aligning health and education in the school setting;
  • Improving school lunches and nutrition;
  • Physical activity and physical education across the school day;
  • Social, emotional, and mental health;
  • Staff wellness; and the
  • Healthy School Communities (HSC) model.

Join HSC staff, mentor and mentee sites, ASCD authors, invited speakers, and guests to find out more about what's working across the U.S. and Canada and share health and learning stories. Check back on April 19 for registration information. Space is limited.

Show Your Support for Healthy School Meals: Ensuring that schools offer only healthy foods and beverages is critical for reversing the childhood obesity epidemic and safeguarding the health of U.S. children. The Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a new initiative launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, will support efforts to improve the nutritional quality and safety of school foods. Ensuring that provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are rigorously enforced is a primary focus of the two-year project.

Through April 13, U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on its proposed changes. Comments can be conveniently shared through the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project website.

Tools for Providing Active Physical Education: Participate in the next SPARK webinar, and learn why active physical education is so important (and how to assess it), strategies for achieving it, and where to go for resources that support HOPE (Health Optimizing Physical Education). This free 45-minute webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, 2011, at 3 p.m., PDT/6 p.m., EDT. Register now!

ASCD Is Accepting Proposals for the 2012 Annual Conference: ASCD is encouraging members of the education community to submit proposals for next year's ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The event will be held March 24–26 in Philadelphia, Penn. Proposals are due May 12, 2011.

ASCD's Outstanding Young Educator Award: ASCD is seeking nominations for the Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA), which recognizes a teacher who is developing and using best practices to ensure all children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged in his or her school or district. Maximum award: $10,000. Eligibility: K–12 teachers under age 40; self-nominations accepted. Deadline: Aug 1, 2011.

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Teaching a Balance

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Meagan Nance

At 5:10 p.m., the events of the action-packed first day of the ASCD Annual Conference were starting to weigh heavily on the eyelids of the participants as they entered room 133 of the session halls. Each newcomer searched the room for the closest available seat or a familiar face, while those already seated awaited the beginning of the session.

Although the first day of the conference was drawing to a close, the intriguing description of "The Well-Balanced Teacher," presented by Mike Anderson, lured in even the most exhausted person. The room was full of educators of all shapes, sizes, and shades, yet each were there with the same objective in mind: to discover what it means to be a well-balanced teacher.

Mike Anderson stood front and center amongst the crowd of educators and nervously observed his growing audience. Every so often, Anderson casually glanced down at his watch, not saying a word, until the clock said 5:13 p.m. The corners of his mouth lifted into an anxious smile as his strong, stern voice amplified in the room.

Anderson admitted his overwhelming nervous butterflies he was feeling before his first presentation of the balance movement to a live audience. Yet, his refreshing candor and humor eased the progression of the entire session and helped the audience engage in an active interaction with the speaker as well as others around them.

The Well-Balanced Teacher concept is the conscious decision to implement a healthy program for teachers that creates a balance to their lives and enhances their daily teaching experiences. Anderson developed the system of healthy balancing based on his own decisions that neglected self needs in favor of the needs and wants of his profession as a teacher.

Anderson began his search for balance based on an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that had accumulated during his first years of teaching. He felt a desperate need to evaluate the feeling of exhaustion and its effect on both his students and his relationships outside school. After calculating a daily log of the hours of instruction his 4th, 5th, and 6th graders lost during the regular school year—and finding that the total came to an astonishing 33.41 days—Anderson knew that a change was needed. The idea of losing his personal life and losing his instructional time led him to construct the Important Components of Balance.

As he also addresses in his new book The Well-Balanced Teacher: How to Work Smarter and Stay Sane Inside the Classroom and Out, Anderson advocated increasing fulfillment of basic needs (food, hydration, exercise, sleep, and spiritual renewal); belonging; significance; competence; and, most important, fun.

Anderson asked the audience to choose partners and use the blank form given to them at the door to make notes on how to set goals for creating a healthy balance of work and personal life. The once shy and hesitant educators became social butterflies as they shared their ideas and concerns for a balance in their life. Time flew by, and by 6:15 p.m. the once-heavy eyelids were wide open and filled with the excitement of the change to a well-balanced life.

 

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Cracking the Whip: Dealing with Bad Behavior

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Hunter Holcombe

Close to 300 attendees filed into a Marriott ballroom Saturday afternoon at ASCD's Annual Conference to soak up a discussion on a frustrating topic for many: dealing with bad behavior.

Beverley Johns has handled problematic students since the 1970s and says that behavioral problems have only gotten more frequent—and worse—over the decades. In her presentation, "Twenty-Five Positive Behavioral Interventions That Really Work," Johns listed a number of practical ways, primarily through situation-specific positive reinforcement, that teachers can better deal with these particularly problematic students.

Her most essential point was that educators simply aren't acknowledging positive behavior enough, and those that do aren't doing it sincerely. "Even though we know we are supposed to focus on the positive, we don't do it," she said.

Two other major points Johns made were the following:

  1. Low achievement and behavioral problems go hand in hand.
  2. A large percentage of students with emotional or behavioral disorders are known to have language disorders.

The session audience was divided into 10-chair tables, and Johns asked the groups to collectively brainstorm the best way to deal with problematic situations using the methods she proposed. At one table, the three most popular choices were behavior momentum, behavior-specific dialogue, and positive reinforcement.

When it comes to punishment, Johns take a strong stance against suspensions. However, she recognizes that many teachers simply need a break, and suspension is often the easiest way to get one. Yet she points out that suspension results in valuable instructional time lost and the student falling behind. If their personal time is taken up by suspension, they will use up homework time to recoup their lost social time. Additionally, suspension may allow some students to escape from problems.

As a take-home, Johns handed out small green cards to the attendees, a cheat-sheet she calls her "credit card":

10 Quick Verbal Interventions that can Prevent Behavioral Problems

  1. What do you need to do to follow this rule?
  2. How can I help so that you can...?
  3. Is there something else you need to do this task?
  4. Would you like to figure out a different way? How can I help you?
  5. Is what you're doing getting you what you want?
  6. What is your assigned task now?
  7. What do you think about...?
  8. When will you be ready to start this task?
  9. What could you do to make things better for you?
  10. Is there someone that I can get to help you talk through this?

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