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Nancy Schubb (not verified)

The Whole Child

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The concept of educating the whole child seems to go in and out of style. Yet while we are expecting ALL students to learn at the same rate/level (a la NCLB) we are certainly NOT taking into consideration that all students come from different social, economic and developmental places. We can no longer expect teachers to do MORE. What needs to happen is MORE SCHOOL COUNSELORS. School counselors not only remove the barriers to learning, they teach life skills for academic, personal/social and career success.

Sasha (not verified)

Shared vision is key

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I agree 100% with this article. A shared vision is key. I would like to believe that all teachers see the importance of social/emotional well-being and its correlation with academic success. In fact, don't we teach and strive for academic excellence so that students can be social/emotionally stabe individuals who contribute to the well-being of society? There must be an intentional effort put forth in cultivating the well-being of our students in order for them to be life long learners. Futhermore, along with the shared vision there must be a shared plan. There must be a plan for implementation in order for the vision to became reality.

Amy (not verified)

This truly is the key to why

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This truly is the key to why all educators do their job, or so I hope. What I am wondering is how you see this type of community taking place in a nontraditional school setting? I work for a virtual k-10 school. I am wondering what your thoughts are on how to create this type of environment when we do most interaction by phone or intranet?
mehreen (not verified)

I am wondering if you are

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I am wondering if you are the same Mr.Bencivinga that taught in Bozeman Montana at Bozeman Sr. High. If you are I was student of yours that was greatly influenced by you and your teaching.
Maggi Carstairs (not verified)

The problem with trying to

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The problem with trying to write Collaborative Cultures, and implement them to be more than simply words, lies partly with the School Administration. Far too much is dependant on the Administrative Individual who sets the tone of the school. A caring person can create a caring school environment, and this is what is needed. Far too often the Task is left with someone who does not have the inherent ability to work with the teachers, students and parent bodies, and the result does not follow the initial planning or Dream. The Education System screams out for a Social and Emotional Wellbeing component, but until the teachers and leaders are secure and self confident in their own Social and Emotional Worlds, there is little they can do to promote it amongst their schools, students and staffs. Maybe some preparation should be made with helping teachers feel more secure and self responsible first, as part of the problem actually lies with the Administration itself. Something like 'Physician heal thyself', but he has to realise he needs some healing too. Your concept is simple wonderful and there is a need for more teachers to realise their educational responsibilities towards each other, as well as towards the community they teach.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith (not verified)

Tony addresses many

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Tony addresses many significant points. However from a performance perspective the question needs to be asked is if a shared vision is adopted will it alone improve performance? A shared vision must be accompanied by planning, execution and measurement (dynamic forces of performance) along with leadership, goal achievement and quality processes. Any organization must be able to consistently plan, execute and measure its actions. I also agree that social and emotional development needs to be part of every school's curriculum especially at the middle school. The success of the social and emotional development is contingent upon how well the affective learning domain is intergrated into the curriculum. Unfortuantely, most curriculums and many teachers' action fail to develop this crucial domain. If we could develop students (not train them) to take responsibility for their own learning and create a plan of action, I believe that this could be a significant catapult for helping young people unleash their potential and realize their hopes, dreams and goals.
Jay (not verified)

I completely agree with the

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I completely agree with the idea of balancing students' social needs and academics. This is the reason I chose to be a middle school administrator and have stood by the middle school concept. My question for educators and administrators... How have you been able to get ALL to buy in to caring for kids (not just black and white rules and deadlines)?
Maida (not verified)

This is a wonderful concept,

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This is a wonderful concept, and I know it can be done. For 5 years I've worked at a middle school that focuses equally on social/emotional development and academic preparation. My goal, as Head Teacher, is to help each one of my students discover the adult they wish to become and for them to leave middle school with a well developed sense of self. People often ask me what I teach, which technically is science and math, but my answer always is that I teach life. The middle school years are the crucial years to accomplish this incredibly difficult task. It does take an incredible amount of commitment from facutly, administration and parents. It takes teachers going to horse shows, hockey games, football games, dance recitals, choir concerts and everything other extra curricular thing you can think of. Essentially, students need to know that there is an adult (other than their parents) that truly cares and is dedicated to their well being and development. This also obviously works best when their is a low student to teacher ratio as then teachers can get to know each student at a personal level. Without that strong personal relationship and knowledge, it is very difficult to succeed in this task.
Kirk (not verified)

Accepting that the idea of a

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Accepting that the idea of a school that both deeply cares for and truly challenges its students is only a good thing, it is the details of arriving at such a culture that are unclear. What does the school/teacher/principal actually do when a student needs academic support (when and where and from whom does the student get it)? Whats does the school/teacher/principal actually do when a student behaves in such a manner that the whole class or whole school is affected? Are students ever kicked out or always coached toward better behavior? If always coached toward better behavior, by whom? when? where? how? Specifically, how is such an ideal culture -- one that balances love and kindness with high expectations/standards and rigor to result in real opportunities for all kids?
Andre' Layral (not verified)

I enjoyed reading Tony's

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I enjoyed reading Tony's vision. Whether it be teachers or employers, the dispositions they want most in students and employees are the soft skills that are precursors to successful relationships and personal success. The myraid personal visions of parents, school staff and community leaders form school vision. Just as adults know what they value and want for students, students know what they value and want from the adults in their lives. So why is it so hard to create a school climate that makes this possible for the adults who work in schools and the students who spend much of their time in schools? The visioning process involves taking the many individual visions held by parents, teachers, students, and community and molding these into a compelling vision of the school the group would like it to become. What sustains this vision is a collaborative culture where staff support give and receive support from one another, feel free to take risks and have strong personal relatuionships on a professional level. A healthy culture is critical to raising achievement. These things we know lead to a welcoming climate for students and their families, where school is experienced as friendly, open, calm, caring and supportive. The measure of a welcoming climate is a caring environment. Schools cannot become caring places without teachers and staff who care about their students in a way that students are aware of it. Schools need to be attentive to how their students experience their school experience. While schools may not have control over may facets of children's lives, they do have control of establishing the proper classroom and school-wide learning environment. This isn't rocket science. A proper developmental setting needed for all students to thrive and succeed requires that each adult do what they can do, while working together until they are working like an orchestra together making beautiful music together. When this happens, climate improves, and achievement increases. The foundation for a thriving school culture that leads to caring and a welcoming climate is relational trust, having others who know students well, provide care and support, and give respect unconditionally. This leads to recognition, acceptance, trust, respect, confirmation (mattering) and a positive view of one's personal future. Structures need to be in place, as do policies and practices, that support students and ensure a sense of belonging for all students. These classroom and school-wide structures are needed to promote connectedness, ensuring all students feel recognized as unique individuals and feel supported in their personal and academic development. When students feel a sense of bonding and attachment to school and the adults who work there, an increasing body of research shows that students achieve more academic success, and engage in healthy behaviors and choices. Finally learner centered strategies provide students with opportunities for individual and collaborative activities and projects that challenge their abilities and interests. Thank you Tony for beginning a valued conversation.
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