The Whole Child Podcast

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Aiming High: Working Through the Common Core Shifts

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"Educators need to prepare kids to be career and college ready, but they also need to prepare them for their present world. The Common Core State Standards set out to do that. They're not perfect, but they are a starting point" (Peter DeWitt).

The standards are not a curriculum. Standards are targets for what students should know and be able to do. Curricula are the instructional plans and strategies that educators use to help their students reach those expectations. Central to a supportive school are teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who take a personal interest in each student and in the success of each student. A whole child approach to education is essential to realizing the promise of the standards. Only when students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged will they be able to meet our highest expectations and realize their fullest potential.

In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we're looking at how we are designing course content, choosing appropriate instructional strategies, developing learning activities, continuously gauging student understanding, adjusting instruction, and involving parents and families as partners to support our students' success. You'll hear from

What "shifts" are teachers making in order to effectively implement the Common Core State Standards and support student success?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Early Childhood Education: Balancing Expectations and What Young Learners Really Need

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What does "education" mean for our youngest learners? The first years of school are as important for an educated population as any other period, perhaps more. Additionally, research shows that implementation of high-quality preschool programs can be beneficial for the lifelong development of children in low-income families and that an upfront commitment to early education provides returns to society that are many times more valuable than the original investment.

With the current focus on standards and academic achievement, is learning and testing coming too early? Curriculum and assessment should be based on the best knowledge of theory and research about how children develop and learn, with attention given to individual children's needs and interests within a group and in relation to program goals. In this episode, we discuss the importance of early childhood education and the specific social, cognitive, and emotional needs these learners have that are different from those of older learners. You'll hear from

  • Thomas Armstrong is an award-winning author and speaker with more than 40 years of teaching experience from the primary through the doctoral level. More than 1 million copies of his books are in print on issues related to learning and human development, including the 2012 ASCD book, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Achieve Success in School and Life.
  • Laura Bornfreund is a senior policy analyst for the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative. Bornfreund examines early education (birth through grade 3) studies and policies and researches and writes original policy papers. She contributes to Early Ed Watch, the Early Education Initiative's blog, writing on a variety of education policy topics including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; federal education grant programs; teacher preparation, retention, and support; kindergarten; and early childhood assessment.
  • Walter McKenzie is a lifelong learner, teacher, leader, and connector. A director of Constituent Services for ASCD, McKenzie served 25 years in public education as a classroom teacher, instructional technology coordinator, director of technology, and assistant superintendent for information services. He is internationally known for his work on multiple intelligences and technology and has published various books and articles on the subject.
  • Jennifer Orr is a 1st-grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va. A National Board Certified Teacher in middle childhood, Orr has taught 4th, 5th, and 1st grades since 1998. In 2012 she received the International Society for Technology in Education's Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for being a K–2 educator bringing technology into the classroom effectively and with innovation. She is also an ASCD Emerging Leader and member of its 2013 class.
  • Wendy Ostroff is a cognitive psychology, child development, and metacognition expert and author of the 2012 ASCD book, Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom. Ostroff has been developing curricula on children’s learning for the past 15 years in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University; in the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College; and, most recently, as associate professor in the program for the Advancement of Learning at Curry College.

If early childhood is where we begin to build skills and behaviors such as persistence, empathy, collaboration, and problem solving, are we teaching in developmentally appropriate ways?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Is Resilience the Secret to Student Success?

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Resilience—the ability of each of us to "bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful" (Nan Henderson); "not only survive, but also learn to thrive" (Bonnie Benard); or even to "bungy jump through the pitfalls of life" (Andrew Fuller)—is more than a trait: it's a process that can and should be taught, learned, and required. Being resilient helps youth navigate the world around them, and schools and classrooms are becoming more attuned to providing the cognitive, emotional, and developmental supports needed for resilience to prosper and grow in each of us.

"If children are given the chance to believe they're worth something—if they truly believe that—they will insist upon it" (Maya Angelou). With that in mind, what benefits do schools, classrooms, and students gain through increased attention to resilience teaching and development? In this episode, we discuss how resilience is best developed and whether it should be taught as a curriculum, integrated across all content areas, or organically developed by each student. You'll hear from

  • Sara Truebridge, an education consultant on resilience who has collaborated on the 2009 documentary film Race to Nowhere and is the author of the forthcoming book, Resilience Begins with Beliefs.
  • Andrew Fuller, a clinical psychologist and author who has worked with many schools and communities around Australia, specializing in the well-being of young people and their families. He is a Fellow of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Learning and Educational Development at the University of Melbourne.

What does resilience look like in the classroom and how can it be developed across schools?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Make and Take the Time to Reflect, Refresh, and Recharge

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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 are most critical to us right now?

In this episode, we discuss educators' need to reflect on the past school year, refresh their passion for teaching, recharge their batteries, and look ahead to next year. Host Kevin Scott, a former history teacher and current director of constituent services at ASCD, is joined by

  • Peter Badalament, a former social studies teacher, English teacher, dean of students, and past president of Massachusetts ASCD. Badalament is currently the principal of Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts and a member of ASCD's Emerging Leaders program.
  • Jason Flom, a former elementary teacher and current director of learning platforms at whole child partner Q.E.D. Foundation. At Q.E.D., Flom works with education leaders, educators, and students to build, inspire, cultivate, and sustain transformational learning practices that empower all learners. He is also a member of the ASCD Emerging Leaders program and a Board member of Florida ASCD.

Extend your reflection with the tools mentioned in the episode: the Edutopia article "Transformation Begins with Reflection: How Was Your Year," "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (PDF) by Peggy McIntosh, and the Transformational Change Model. Both guests also recommend their favorite personal reading material, including

Refresh your personal learning with the summer 2013 digital issue of Educational Leadership magazine, available June 28. This 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. If you do not currently receive Educational Leadership magazine, subscribe now to stay informed about new ideas and best practices for educators.

As educators, what strategies do you use to reflect, refresh, and recharge?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

The New Poverty: Dealing with Economic Change

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In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These "poor kids" don't fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works, and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.

In this episode, our guests discuss the implications of this new poverty for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Schools that took their communities' wealth for granted more frequently need to deal with issues of child hunger, fewer resources, and more demands for services. You'll hear from

What new—and old—solutions are you using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever his or her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Walking in a Principal’s Shoes

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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.

There is also no doubt that the role—or roles—of a principal has changed dramatically in recent years and will likely change even more in upcoming decades. In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, host Sean Slade and our guests discuss the qualities principals in today's (and tomorrow's) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. You'll hear from

What is a principal (in 2013)?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Leveling and Raising the Playing Field

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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?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

How Can We Make Our Schools Safer?

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Safety is and will always be a fundamental concern for schools. Students who aren't or don't feel safe at school cannot learn, and schools must ensure that their environments are both secure and supportive. The current debate on school safety brings with it a renewed interest in addressing safety, school climate, and mental health concerns at schools and promises to improve school policy and practice.

Yet while the current debate has engaged the nation in community-wide discussions, it also has the potential to overlook the voices of educators. In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, host Sean Slade and guests discuss what we, as educators, believe is crucial to making our schools safe—not just physically safe, but safe places to teach and learn. You'll hear from

  • Joseph Bergant II, superintendent of Chardon Schools in Ohio;
  • Howard Adelman, professor of psychology at UCLA and codirector of the School Mental Health Project and the Center for Mental Health in Schools (a whole child partner); and
  • Jonathan Cohen, adjunct professor in psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and president and cofounder of whole child partner National School Climate Center.

What is required for students and adults to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe in school? What two or three things are fundamental to achieving safety in school?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Great Expectations: Transforming Practice Through Common Core Implementation

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We as educators have a unique opportunity to reset the playing field and make the Common Core State Standards work for us. We can implement the standards, align them to a whole child approach to education, and ensure that they both support and enhance each other to prepare students for college, career, and citizenship success. The Common Core standards and a whole child approach are not opposites, and they do not have to be and should not be in opposition. In fact, they're interdependent. So much so, that they require each other to be successful.

Now is the time for us to take control and become empowered in the process. The outcomes will depend on what we decide to do for the Common Core standards within a whole child approach and how we decide to do it. In this episode, host Molly McCloskey and our guests discuss how our schools are working to better and more comprehensively support student learning so that they meet these enhanced expectations. You'll hear from

  • Arnold Fege, president of Public Advocacy for Kids and, recently, director of public engagement and advocacy for the Public Education Network where he covered education reform, parental involvement, and community engagement issues on the Hill and agencies, specializing in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Fege has more than 40 years of public education and child advocacy experience as a public school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and desegregation director. He was the National PTA's director of governmental relations for 17 years and is recognized for his leading work and articles in linking school and community. As a staff person for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, he helped draft provisions in the original ESEA legislation and has been involved in every reauthorization of ESEA since that time.
  • Craig Mertler, professor and dean of the Ross College of Education at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., and guest author this month on the Whole Child Blog. Mertler has been an educator for more than 25 years, beginning his career as a high school science teacher, then pursuing degrees in education assessment, research, and statistics. His interests lie in teacher-led action research, teacher leadership, classroom assessment, data-driven instructional decision making, and school improvement.
  • David Griffith, director of public policy at ASCD who leads the development and implementation of ASCD's Legislative Agenda as well as ASCD's efforts to influence education decision making at the local, state, and federal levels. He has 20 years of political experience as a congressional aide and on several political campaigns. Prior to joining ASCD, Griffith was the director of governmental and public affairs for the National Association of State Boards of Education, where he oversaw the organization's advocacy and political activities as well as media relations.

How are you and your professional colleagues critically examining your practice as we enter the era of Common Core implementation?

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

Fair and Effective Teacher Evaluation

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Teacher quality is the most important in-school factor that influences student learning and achievement. Research shows that 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. In turn, 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 accurate and fair evaluations based on multiple measures, including—but not solely based around—their students' performance in the subjects they teach.

Teachers should be evaluated based on their performance in their own subject area using a range of criteria, including observations, peer reviews, parental or student input, and analysis of agreed-on student learning evidence. In this episode, we discuss effective teacher evaluation that produces results that truly benefit students, schools, and educators. You'll hear from

If the ultimate goal of teacher evaluation is to improve student performance, what should evaluators look for?

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