No one likes failure, the F-word, no matter how you sugarcoat it. But failure is a part of life. Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes you don't get what you want. Stuff happens. But if we recast these situations right, we learn to create a new normal, to persevere, to learn to be more flexible, or to redirect our energies.
There’s no denying that most of us are engrossed daily with technology. The attachment is evident in just about every public place. Mobile devices, for many of us, have become our closest friend. In April, the Telegraph reported on toddlers becoming so addicted to their iPads that they required therapy. While this is an extreme case, it's not too far from reality. The mobile device has become our community hub. It's where we go for information and to socialize. It's the new water cooler. In short, our most intimate relationship is with a machine.
My most important back-to-school supply doesn't fit in a backpack, and it can't be ordered online. It's as essential as a pencil, but unlike a pencil, no technology can replace it. In a sense, like a fresh box of crayons, it can come in many colors. Better than the latest gadget, it's possible to equip every student with it, and even better, when we do, it can transform our world.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
In schools, we ask kids to change all the time, from one class and teacher to the next, and from one school year to the next. In fact, we often have kids change every 40-50 minutes during each school day. During these transitions, they have to change gears as they readjust to new behavioral, academic, social and neurological demands and expectations.
"She makes my life miserable every day!" cries Madison, one of the girls in my fourth grade class. She sinks her chubby frame onto the bench next to me, and folds her arms dramatically over her uniform. A pout curls her lower lip and tears twinkle inside her eyelids as she dashes a fierce glance sideways at Hailey, who is still blissfully hanging upside down on the monkey bars.
When I was introduced to the term "social-emotional learning" and began to understand its meaning, I recognized it as a ray of hope. Hope for my community, which, seemingly unbeknownst to me, had changed dramatically over the years.
Recent major news stories have been pretty depressing. To mention just a few: the National Security Agency leaks scandal, concerns about the use of drones, self-serving congressional obstructionists, a mayor in Philadelphia supporting the building of a prison and then closing over twenty public schools to save money.
This post stems from New Journalism on Latino Children, translating new research for activists, journalists and policy analysts. The project is based at the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley, in collaboration with the Education Writers Association and the Latino Policy Forum, and funded largely by the McCormick Foundation.
Imagine being Ryan Hreljac's first grade teacher. After telling your class of six- and seven-year-olds that children in Africa are dying because of lack of clean water, one of your students is so moved that he has to do something. What starts as Ryan taking on extra vacuuming at home to earn money for wells eventually turns into Ryan's Well Foundation, a non-profit that, to date, has brought safe water and sanitation services to over 789,900 people.