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.
"It takes a whole village to raise a child," goes the African proverb in the focus of Jane Cowen-Fletcher's 1994 children's book1. I'd like to build on this wisdom to propose that it takes a whole school to educate the whole child. All of us, policymakers; communities; families; administrators; staff; teachers; and, importantly, school librarians, must work in concert to ensure that children are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. School librarians have a special contribution to creating an environment that welcomes all forms of expression; creativity; and active, interdisciplinary learning.
As part of the school team, school social workers share the goal of ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education. We work with students and their families to address personal, family, and societal issues that create obstacles for learning. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards will create a strong foundation for school social workers in our mission to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for all students.
During the last few months, I have had the chance to talk with several speakers who strongly affected their audiences. I started to think about the remarkable leaders with whom I have worked over the years and how they have made huge differences with their incredible wisdom, insight, and actions. I contacted some of them and asked them to comment on working in education in these difficult times. I asked them to share some take-away messages, so that, if they were speaking, what would they want their audience to remember? Read the other installments in the series: school safety, student services, and teaching.
Leadership is essential to effective education. Here are some "Tips from the Trenches" from the school leaders and leaders of national education organizations themselves.
No community is immune to the effects of traumatic events. Our ASCD community includes the students, teachers, and residents of Newtown, Conn. This morning we shared posts from our archives that speak to providing safe and connected learning environments. We hope the following resources from ASCD and our Whole Child Partners connect to educators, families, and communities' resilient spirit so that they can tap the resilient spirit in their students.
Almost no one has been unaffected by the events in Newtown, Conn., last week—especially if they are a teacher or parent or have kids who go to elementary school, as many of us do. It's hard to discuss and even harder to make any kind of sense out of what happened.
Today we highlight posts from our archives, the ASCD community, and our partner organizations that speak to how we can make our schools and communities safer and more connected. While we cannot immediately change policies that affect our schools and larger communities, we can strengthen our resolve to make sure that we create environments for our kids that are welcoming, supportive, and caring. The immediate reaction is to hunker down; however, as we hear so often, the best next steps are to open doors, re-engage and reconnect.
We hope the following pieces may resonate or help. Standing strong together and reminding ourselves that a connected community is a safer and friendlier community may be the best action we can take right now, and it's something we can have some control over.
What was the key takeaway from this year's Bullying Prevention Summit, hosted by the Department of Education?
It's not a revelation that we need to focus on the big picture, not just the incident. We need to be deliberate about influencing the environment and culture that allows bullying behavior to take place.
ASCD conducted its second Whole Child Virtual Conference in May. This free conference showcases schools, authors, and research about implementing a whole child approach for a worldwide audience. View and share archived session recordings, presenter handouts, and related resources at www.ascd.org/wcvirtualconference.
Gain further insight into what successful school sites are doing and simple steps your school can take to help implement, sustain, and build a culture of meeting the needs of the whole child through these presentations:
My name is Sandi Lauzon and I am the vice principal at Byrne Creek Secondary School responsible for technology. I try to attend the Computer Using Educators of British Columbia (CUEBC) conference every year, as it is without a doubt the best way to connect with like-minded educators who ultimately leave you inspired by the techno-risks they have taken in their classrooms. Their stories of innovative practices always start with a passion to shift learning and teaching in a new direction, but more often than not they include bureaucratic hiccups; creative work-arounds; young heroic teachers willing to take risks; and students who adapt, engage, learn, and, ultimately, teach us all.
At the end of the conference, I like to mill about and catch up with colleagues from other districts. With my iPad in hand, I asked one of the board members how the iPad Inquiry project was going. CUEBC lends out 11 iPads to teachers to use in their classrooms for a month at a time, and I had been following the project online. As it turned out, the iPads did not have a home for the following six weeks and I left the conference with them and a lot to think about before Monday morning. In my role at Byrne Creek, I had already been looking at how the iPad could be used with our English language learners, and now we had the opportunity to justify a purchase of 20 iPads if this pilot project was successful. All we needed was a passionate teacher with the skills to move beyond the apps, who could embrace the iPad as a powerful tool for student learning and was not afraid to jump in and explore the potential of the iPad as means of engaging, creating, and communicating.
Helen Erickson, without dipping her toe in to test the water, accepted the challenge and jumped right in. Here is her story.