The summer 2013 issue of Educational Leadership magazine is now available. This digital issue gives you instant access to nearly 100 pages of practical tips and advice on how to refresh your personal learning, recharge your professional development, and get ready for the first days of school.
Summer for educators is often a time to look back on the past year—and look forward to the coming one. What worked, what didn't, and what will you change? Educating the whole child and planning for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement requires us to be "whole educators" who take the time to recharge, reflect, and reinvigorate. Where should we put our effort? What aspects of a whole child approach to education is most critical to us right now?
Wherever your school or district sits along the continuum from implementation of a whole child approach to sustainability and changing the school culture, there are things we all can do to solidify and enhance a whole child approach to education in our settings. Join us throughout June and July as we highlight steps others have taken, successes that have been achieved, and lessons learned. Take this time to reflect on where you are, refresh your ideas, and recharge your batteries.
In the blogging era everyone can publish their ideas and opinions and grow quite a following doing so; the democratization of information in practice. This proliferating idea exchange is part and parcel of Thomas Friedman's flat earth analogy. Developing one's voice and being heard is a good thing. But it's not enough. If we carry the flat earth metaphor to its logical conclusion, opinions freely rolling across a flattened sphere clatter, collide, and ultimately roll right off the edge. (I just had a flashback to playing Crossfire circa 1970.) Why settle for a random collision of opinions deciding which ideas carry the day? Not all opinions are equal. They need to be vetted for merit.
Yet, when I first speak to people about what we do, the inevitable conclusion or connection made is that "you're the guys that do bully prevention." Indeed, NSCC has robust and comprehensive bully-prevention resources that are student centered, aligned with core curriculum standards, and (amazingly!) free. And we work arduously and continuously to make sure our bully-prevention efforts align with a larger framework to promote safe, supportive, welcoming, civically engaging, challenging, and joyous schools for all students. One metaphor I use to capture the idea that bully prevention is part of a broader school climate effort is to compare bullying to the proverbial "canary in a coal mine." I tend to believe that if there are bullying issues present in a school community, it is a symptom of other deeper issues.
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.
As we've said many times across this blog and in our newsletters and podcasts, we believe that a whole child approach to education is the only approach that prepares young people for long-term educational, civic, and work-life success. We believe that most educators know that to be true, but sometimes act in ways quite contrary to their beliefs. We believe a whole child approach is a relatively simple concept that is quite complex to put in place.
For those reasons and more, we invite you to participate in ASCD's third annual Whole Child Virtual Conference. Entitled "Moving from Implementation to Sustainability to Culture," sessions will offer educators around the globe leadership discussions and strategies to support their work to implement and sustain a whole child approach to education.
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.
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.
Everyone freeze! Stop right where you are and look around. Survey the landscape. With all the clamoring and commotion in education, have you stopped to notice? Education transformation is already well under way. I know, I know. With all the posturing and politicking going on from your local school board to the state house to the White House, there's a public perception that it's business as usual. Voices of self-interest continue to tout the status quo. Advocates for the public interest continue to toe the bottom line. Amidst all the noise and distractions, education in 2013 can look and feel like more of the same.