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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Common Core in Action: Reviving the Civic Mission of Schools

Edutopia blogger Anne O'Brien outlines how the Common Core State Standards can help promote the civic goals of schools.

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A Call to All Social-Emotional Learning Leaders

Edutopia blogger Maurice Elias asks SEL and character education leaders to work together to create a set of guidelines and to also decide on a common language and terminology.

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Melanie Smith's picture

There are so many "buzz" words in our field, I appreciate the effort that will go into integrating ideas and creating common language. Thank you

Gail Poulin's picture

This sounds helpful. As an educator of young children, I can see that others on my team have the same goal but the language is always moving and once the kids leave our classrooms, they have different language going out the door with them to their next classroom where they regroup for even more new language.

The Dixie Diarist's picture
The Dixie Diarist
Teacher, Writer, and Artist

When it all comes down to it, if kids and teenagers easily and naturally say "thank you" and "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" and "you're welcome," and then if they're generally kind to one another, then somebody's done a great job ... parents or teachers or both.

Saying "please" is pretty darn powerful, too.

Caleb Winebrenner's picture
Caleb Winebrenner
Teaching Artist currently based in AZ.

Interesting article. I agree that the landscape feels very like the Tower of Babel," but I think this misses a critical point of the discussion, focusing not on what it is, but rather how to most effectively do it (speaking from my bias as a teaching artist).

I've linked this article and another that may interest people in my post for November 12, here: http://wp.me/p2RoSH-9d

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Gratitude Can Fuel School Transformation

Blogger Elena Aguilar describes how developing a practice of gratitude on our campuses can help change the culture and climate of our schools.

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Making the Most of Mentors for Students

Blogger Suzie Boss provides pointers for teachers on how best to utilize adult mentors who help their students with projects.

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The Mind of a Middle Schooler: How Brains Learn

Blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron defines important brain terminology while providing a classroom scenario where a middle schooler's brain is hard at work.
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UC Study: 5 Findings on College Success for Low-Income Youth

Blogger Bob Lenz shares how urban high schools can increase the number of low-income youth graduating and attending college.

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Are School Librarians Part of Your PBL Dream Team?

If librarians know about upcoming projects, they can help to spark curiosity even before project launch day.

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A Teacher Perspective: Advice for Principals

Blogger Ben Johnson offers his observations to administrators to help them build better relationships with teachers.
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Brains, Brains, Brains! How the Mind of a Middle Schooler Works

Blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron launches this three-part series by advising middle school teachers to read up on brain research which will give insight on how the 'tween brain works.

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Simple Ways to Cultivate Happiness in Schools

Blogger Elena Aguilar asks, how might you bring more happiness and well-being to your school?

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Jojo Zhong's picture
Jojo Zhong
Early Childhood teacher from China

I like your ways to cultivate happiness in schools. I will use them for my future teaching plan and try to establish a happy classroom environment. Besides that, I think we can still do some more simple activities to cultivate happiness in classroom for young children:
1) Plan a special field day that encourages families' participation.
2) Collaborate with another teacher to develop an activity that will be mutually beneficial to both groups of children (for example, older children reading to younger ones or a pen-pal program).
3) Add a few new toys or books that will interest children.
4) Get a classroom pet.
5) Invite parents or other visitors into the classroom to share their various expertise areas.
I believe that teachers who possess enthusiasm for learning and spark children's renewed interest can cultivate happiness in school and in classroom.

chemtchr's picture
chemtchr
chemistry

Elena, Jojo, Catherine, and Linda: I'm so glad to meet you all. The most important idea you are upholding here is that a child's happiness has value, and SHOULD be cultivated in schools.

I teach in a low-income high school, and all those ways of cultivating happiness will work there, too. There are so many
external factors that can steal happiness form children who are under life stress to begin with. I find that mine still have a child's ability to put those things aside, and be won over into happiness in the moment if we offer it to them. It even gives them wings again.

That's the real resilience they need, I'm convinced. Our administrators are now telling us we have to teach "grit", and that resilience in the face of adversity will be strengthened if we throw more stress and adversity at them.

We've concocted a scheme in our chemistry department to bring helium tanks for mole day, and let all the tenth graders fill balloons for experiments, and then take with them through the rest of their day. Wish us luck.

Lessia Bonn's picture
Lessia Bonn
co-founder I am Bullyproof Music
Blogger 2014

If I even begin to chatter around this subject I will leave a book on this page. Needless to say, your little blog post will get pinned quite a bit by this happy camper. Why am I happy? Because you spoke such truth. Just sayin'. Nothing wrong with a little happy harmony in one's classroom... especially when the lyrics are good. But one little thing; minor keys work too. Most kids love a little drama. Minor spells drama-- the good time when it's attached to deep lyrics.
And now I'm off to hug a tree. Oh- and I also love what Linda added!

Mel Buendia's picture
Mel Buendia
ESL teacher (High school & College), teacher educator, consultant, ed-tech fan, mother , MEXICO

I am so happy I found your articles! I completely agree with you. Learners,no matter the age,need to be hapy and feel happiness around, specially in a world that moves so fast. The real great moments in life are those in which you enjoy the present moment. I just changed my daughter to a new school for junior high because she was really stressed, and learning is smtg that should bring joy and hapiness. Today, she regained her curiosity, she joined the volleyball team and is very excited with her cucumber first harvest. As you said, for us mothers seeing our kids happy is a must. Thank you so much.
Greetings from Mexico.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator 2014

Wow! I had no idea that there was such a drive to teach happiness in schools. I guess it's part of the whole social and emotional learning push - something which I completely support. Too often we are blindsided by the demands of national testing, and we ignore the emotional development of those children in our classroom. These tips are fantastic. I'm going to put them into use.

Catherine O'Brien's picture
Catherine O'Brien
I teach sustainable happiness.

It's tremendously important that we are starting to see the integration of positive psychology and happiness studies into education with recommendations for positive schools and positive education. I think it is also important to incorporate some "happiness literacy" because the media often portray happiness associated with material consumption - entirely opposite to what we have learned from positive psychology. Happiness literacy is one of the components of my sustainable happiness course. Other activities aim to help students understand that their happiness and wellbeing is intertwined the the wellbeing of other people and the natural environment.

zep's picture
zep
Education Specialist

Love the idea of facilitating sustainable happiness! A perhaps rhetorical question, is it possible for kids to be happy when they have no say over what subjects they learn, or on how long they spend on a subject? Can an unfree group of people ever be truly sustainably happy?

Catherine O'Brien's picture
Catherine O'Brien
I teach sustainable happiness.

I distinguish between "sustaining" happiness and sustainable happiness. Sustainable happiness is happiness that contributes to individual, community, and/or global wellbeing without exploiting other people, the environment or future generations. So yes, we an ask if education is contributing to, or detracting from, sustainable happiness. The answer is both but it could do much better with greater attention to integrating positive psychology with sustainability and other worthwhile perspectives such as health promoting schools, social and emotional learning, etc. We could be enhancing wellbeing for our students (and teachers) AND contributing to more sustainable societies. There are publications on my web site that explain this more fully: http://sustainablehappiness.ca/publications/.

Mary Jones's picture
Mary Jones
second grade teacher from michigan

Children are happy when they are learning new things.They are happy when they master a difficult task. They are happy when their thinking is acknowledged. Happy songs are okay, but learning is what schools are supposed to be about. And frankly, if I walked into a workshop and hear Johnny Nash or Roberta Flack singing, I'd wonder why I have to be subjected to Muzac everywhere I go.

Ahmed Hany's picture

I distinguish between "sustaining" happiness and sustainable happiness. Sustainable happiness is happiness that contributes to individual, community, and/or global wellbeing without exploiting other people, the environment or future generations. So yes, we an ask if education is contributing to, or detracting from, sustainable happiness. The answer is both but it could do much better with greater attention to integrating positive psychology with sustainability and other worthwhile perspectives such as health promoting schools, social and emotional learning, etc. We could be enhancing wellbeing for our students (and teachers) AND contributing to more sustainable societies.

blog Hate is a 4-Letter Word

Last comment 5 days 14 hours ago in Bullying Prevention

blog Creating Classrooms for Social Justice

Last comment 5 days 15 hours ago in Service Learning

blog 8 Tips for Schools Interested in Restorative Justice

Last comment 17 hours 11 min ago in School Leadership

blog Just Breathe: When Teachers Practice Mindfulness

Last comment 4 days 11 hours ago in Social and Emotional Learning

blog Heteronormativity in Schools

Last comment 3 days 19 hours ago in Education Equity

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