In this era of school reform, turnaround, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. Usually when we talk about "getting back to the basics," the conversation is student-focused, if not always student-centered. These basics of learning vary from the 3 Rs (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic) to STEM to 21st century skills.
In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.
How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? What are the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?
Shanta Buchanan, literacy impact facilitator and dedicated educator who values the process of learning. She has been an advocate for children with hearing loss and early intervention since the birth of her daughter Brooke who was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss.
Erin Deal, a teacher who has enjoyed working with a variety of grade levels during her 10 years in the classroom, including five years in a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Montessori combination class. She values the Montessori methodology of teaching and embraces the inquiry-based learning techniques.
Gillian Hill, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of classroom experience as an elementary teacher and curriculum facilitator. She has supported the school and community and assisted in facilitating in the transition from the traditional style of teaching to the Montessori philosophy.
Sharon Jacobs, a public school educator with more than 20 years of experience and the founding principal of Washington Montessori School. She is passionate about the learning process and committed to service, change, social development, and above all, children.
Paulita Musgrave, K–5 math impact facilitator who provides support and guidance to the staff, students, and parent community. A talented community activist, she is the founder of The Legacy House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, where she directed a federal program that had a 93 percent achievement rate.
Eileen Martin, a veteran educator of more than 20 years in various capacities; from bus driver where she earned Bus Driver of the Year, cafeteria cashier, teacher assistant, to now one of the most energetic classroom teachers you will find. She coined the frequently shared statement about Washington Montessori School's care of students, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"
What are the "real basics" of education?
Washington Montessori School is the fifth recipient of the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Listen to previous award-winning schools as they share their stories and how they ensure that each child in their community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged:
Each day, as educators, we make decisions that make a difference in the lives of our learners, propelling them into the world as beacons of success and hope. All students deserve engaging and focused experiences that amplify their brains and hearts. Preparing learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate is our moral imperative. In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.
How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? Join us throughout April as we discuss the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?
An independent school leader and public school parent, Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE) is the head of the Upper Elementary School and academic dean at the Curtis School in Los Angeles, Calif., and founding director of its Center for the Future of Elementary Education. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools' advisory council on diversity, a member of the EdCamp Foundation's public relations committee, and a fellow of the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence.
I just returned to Los Angeles after the honor of participating in one of the great conversations about the future of education, sitting around a table of district leaders engaged in writing what some have called a "third narrative" of public education in the United States. For days we collaborated in an effort to generate a theory of action, and made concrete commitments to a series of initiatives, that will have an impact on the experience of 2 million children in EdLeader21 member schools and districts in the coming years.
The decisions we make today—for our systems, our schools, and our classrooms—will affect what all of our tomorrows will look like tomorrow. This month ASCD launches its inaugural Whole Child Symposium—a conversation about the future of education comprising three events over eight weeks that includes not only some of the leading educators and thinkers, but also you and your voice.
Choosing Your Tomorrow Today: What does this phrase mean to you? What do you think is most important? What word has the greatest impact, the greatest potential, and the greatest need?
The Future of Schooling: Where are we? Each idea sounds plausible and is probably in the midst of coming true somewhere in the world. Has it or is it coming true? Is the writing on the wall? What can or should we do?
Educators working in a positive school culture experience collegiality, trust, and tangible support as leaders and peers, creating an environment where there are high expectations, involvement in decision making, and open communication. Students entering a positive school culture feel safe, engaged, and connected and see school as a place where they can learn and contribute to the world around them. A positive school culture—morale—is the cornerstone of a good school and the foundation for school improvement.
School cultures should support, reinforce, and reflect the well-being of everyone in it, ensuring that students and adults feel valued, respected, and cared for and are motivated to learn, lead, and teach. In this episode, we take a look at how we build school morale so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents are energized and positive about learning. You'll hear from
David Culberhouse, former teacher and principal of a California Distinguished School, currently senior director of elementary education for the Rialto Unified School District in southern California and co-moderator of the West Coast #satchat, weekly Twitter discussions about education and leadership held Saturday mornings;
Joe Mazza, former teacher, principal, and technology integration coach, currently project manager for Connected Teaching, Learning, and Leadership in the North Penn School District in Lansdale, Pennsylvania; innovation coach at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; and producer of #ptchat, another weekly Twitter chat—this one for transparent and collaborative dialogue between parents, family engagement practitioners, and teachers—held Wednesday nights; and
Angela Hamilton, assistant principal, and Eric Russo, special education co-teacher who specializes in reading and language arts, at Drew Freeman Middle School of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland. Drew Freeman is a member of ASCD's Whole Child Network of Schools and is in its second year of a three-year, comprehensive school improvement process using the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—as a sustainable whole child approach to educating their students.
The conference will be held in Los Angeles, California, March 15–17, 2014, and will showcase ideas and best-practice strategies that are driving student achievement and unlock ways to boost teacher and leadership effectiveness. Attendees will choose from more than 350 sessions that will enable them to prepare our world's learners to be creative, critically minded, and compassionate citizens. The conference's general session speakers include education luminaries such as Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Pink, and Russell Quaglia. The conference is generously supported by sponsors including Microsoft, Adobe, and VINCI.
Relationships have not only proven to be good for our physical health, but our spiritual and emotional health as well. It is through relationships with other human beings that we grow and evolve, as well as deepen and expand our love and meaning in life. As many of you are aware, today is Valentine's Day. Whether or not you like this holiday, it comes each year to provide time for each of us to reflect on and grow our personal and professional relationships.
What is the iCitizen Project? Whole Child Podcast guest Beth Sanders, a high school social studies teacher at Tarrant High School in Alabama who was named an Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 and 2013 Teacher of the Year for Tarrant City Schools, explains:
How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. Ensuring personalized learning for all students requires a shift in thinking about long-standing education practices, systems and policies, as well as significant changes in the tools and resources. To address students’ abilities, interests, styles, and performance, schools need to rethink curricula, instruction, and technology tools to support giving learners choices and schools flexibility.
It has been described as learning that takes place “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.” More importantly, personalized learning has the promise to ensure equity, engagement, ownership, and achievement for each child, in each school, and in each community so that she is college, career, and citizenship ready and is prepared for success in our global, knowledge-based society.