Mrs. Nelson is teaching a lesson when she notices Mason's head on his desk with distracting noises coming from him. She cruises his way while still teaching, leans in as she nears him and quietly reminds him to sit up and stop making noises. As she walks away and resumes teaching, Mason mumbles an inappropriate epithet that contains denial of the deed and offensive language. Other students sitting nearby turn their attention away from the lesson, collectively showing a look along with a few "oohs" that unmistakably challenges their teacher with the question, "What are you going to do about it?" Mrs. Nelson stops the lesson, stares at Mason and in a scolding manner asks, "What did you say?" The power struggle is on!
As many of us cope with the results of Hurricane Sandy, whether awaiting the return of power, finding gasoline, wondering how to get to and from work, worrying about parents and other family members who are stranded, dealing with displacement of a temporary or permanent nature, or some combination of these, it is a time for reflection on the fragility of our modern lives and our genuine interdependence.
Editor's Note: Although Kevin Curwick graduated from Osseo Senior High, the Twitter project he started continues to be a source of inspiration from current students. In this post, written when Curwick was a senior, he highlights why he started sending positive tweets to fellow classmates. (Updated 10/2013)
As simple as any introduction, my name is Kevin Curwick, and I am currently a senior at Osseo Senior High in Osseo, Minnesota -- a suburb of the Twin Cities. I have always been involved in my school and, just like many students, I strive to make a difference. I have recently been able to achieve a significant change that has already produced encouraging results.
Recently, the non-profit daily ideas exchange known as Zocalo Public Square had an online debate about whether kindness can be taught, as part of a more general public conversation about altruism. I was fortunate to participate along with author Kathy Beland, who wrote School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience, a social emotional learning curriculum.
David Ropeik's article in New York Times about how parents resist vaccinations for their children contains essential insights and lessons for those of us who advocate for "prevention"-oriented approaches in schools, such as SEL and character education, and even service learning.
How can educators integrate the insights and achievements of the social and emotional learning movement into efforts that address today's most pressing ecological issues? The new book Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence offers inspiring stories, practical guidance and an exciting new model of education that shows a way to do just that. Ecoliterate reveals how educators can advance academic achievement, protect the natural world on which we depend, and foster strength, hope and resiliency. It is written by psychologist Daniel Goleman with Lisa Bennett and Zenobia Barlow of the Center for Ecoliteracy.
In last month's post, I mentioned that there are two skills that separate great teachers from good ones. I explained that the first skill is the ability to reframe student behavior, to see it in new ways. Today I want to discuss the second skill: knowing how to treat students fairly by not treating them the same. Allen Mendler and I introduced the idea that fair isn't equal to the education community in 1988 in the first edition of Discipline With Dignity (an updated, more comprehensive explanation with examples is provided in the current edition). Since then, nearly all of the educators who have used our model have seen remarkable results when resolving a wide range of behavior issues. In short, treating students in a fair -- but not equal -- way works.
In outcomes-based learning environments, we generally see three elements in play: 1) learning objectives or targets are created from given standards; 2) instruction of some kind is given; and then 3) learning results are assessed. These assessments offer data to inform the revision of further planned instruction. Rinse and repeat.
But lost in this clinical sequence are the Habits of Mind that (often predictably) lead to success or failure in the mastery of given standards. In fact, it is not in the standards or assessments, but rather these personal habits where success or failure -- in academic terms -- actually begin.
When we started ASCEND, the K-8 school in Oakland, CA., that I've written about here at Edutopia, we asked our students to practice six habits. We called them the "Ways to Ascend," although later students remembered them as "the rules." They were: