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Strategies To Embed Social Emotional Learning in Schools

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.

In a recent Edsurge blog article, Giancarlo Brotto makes a strong case for why the future of education depends on social emotional learning (SEL), which he sees as a critical indicator to predict college and career readiness. He writes, “social and emotional abilities are said to be indicators of how well a person adjusts to his or her environment, adapts to change and, ultimately, how successful she or he will be in life.” He does on to suggest that early success mastering SEL skills and competencies helps young children develop into happy, fulfilled, contributing members of society. Brotto went on to reference this “Ready to Lead,” Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report which was based on a national principal survey that looked at how SEL prepares children. The report suggests data that supports the need for SEL in schools, such as a 2011 meta-analysis that found that “students who receive h…

Strategies to Engage Girls in STEM

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
For at least the last decade, there has been a push in our profession nationally to find ways to engage more girls in STEM-related courses and careers. This push has not gone unnoticed to me in my own New Hampshire high school, where currently more than 50% of students enrolled in AP Calculus and 80% of students enrolled in AP Biology are girls. The statistics are similar for other high-level STEM courses. What is more, girls are performing as well, if not better academically in these courses than boys. I attribute some of our successes in this area to decade-long K-12 emphasis on performance tasks and the engagement by all learners in authentic learning tasks that measure deeper learning. Our approach is backed by research that offers schools strategies on how to engage girls in STEM.
In a recent EdWeek blog, Sarah Sparks reported out on a recent study in the journal Psychological Science which concluded that girls “persev…

Study Concludes Later Start Time Benefits Student Learning

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This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.
I recently spent time eavesdropping on some of my students while on a bus ride for a field trip. I couldn’t help but listen to their discussion on later start times at school. The day prior, our school had a two hour delay due to weather, the fifth this school year. The students were remarking at how much more productive and effective they felt overall when we had weather delays, and they wished school would start later on a regular basis. The conversation got me thinking about an issue that has come up for me time and time again as a high school principal.
On two different occasions over the last five years, I have written about this topic. In a MultiBriefs Exclusive article in 2014, I wrote about pros and cons of later start times for high schools. Then, I referenced a research report entitled "School Start Times For Adolescents," by the American Academy of Pediatrics that concluded that teens are not getting eno…

Eliminating the Digital Divide to Increase Access to Technology

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Inequities with technology access in our schools can cause students from different socioeconomic backgrounds to fail to develop information capital which leads to a shift in power. This concept has come to be known as a digital divide, and it is a problem that schools take a close look at. Today, school districts are seeking effective ways to increase access to digital tools and resources to disadvantaged populations in an effort to close the achievement gap that the digital divide has the potential to create.
California Superintendent of Schools Darryl Adams of the Coachella Unified School District has a unique strategy to combat digital divide. Coachella is located in the desert just 50 miles north of the Mexican border where nearly 90% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch and few families have access to the Internet in their homes. More than half of the children are not fluent in English. About 2,000 students are the children of migrant farm workers where they labor on dat…

The Increasing Load of the Small-Town School Leader

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Every year for the past several years, I have been asked to justify to the elected officials in my New Hampshire school community why with a declining enrollment I am not recommending a reduction in school administrator positions at my high school. It is hard to explain to someone not in the field that the amount of responsibility and workload of a school principal does not correlate directly with the size of a student population. Some aspects of the job do - such as managing student discipline and evaluation of staff. Yet, other aspects of the job do not. It would take me just as long to develop my weekly newsletter whether I am sending it out to 100 families or 1000 families. The process of building my budget would take the same amount of time whether I was asking for $1 million or $10 million. Developing a safety plan takes me the same amount of time to develop whether I am building a plan for a 100,000 square foot school or one that is five times that size.
The difference between t…

Fostering Small Learning Communities in Your School

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In a recent National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) blog, 2018 New York State Assistant Principal of the Year Terry Adamec writes about how she developed small learning communities (academies) at her Lancaster school as a way to help all of her students find a place. These communities “encourage students to get involved in not only their daily education plan but extracurricular activities linked to the academy as well.” Adamec’s school chose to organize their communities around career pathway themes such as engineering, finance, health care, hospitality/tourism, leadership, trades, and visual/performing arts.
According to Adamec, the small learning community model at her school has resulted in the following benefits:
Career Path Identification: Students have the opportunity to explore various career interests in-depth early in high school, which can save them time and money down later in their post-secondary lives. ●College and Career Readiness: Through job-shadows …

Call To Action: Is Your School Best Preparing Kids For the Future?

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As we embark on a new calendar year, I ask my fellow school principals whether or not your school is best preparing kids for the future. This will be my single focus as we start 2019. Earlier this year at our graduation ceremony, I reminded graduates that they entered the PK-12 education system at just about the same time that the first iPhone was introduced to the market. I noted how much our world and our society has changed as a result of personal smartphone devices, and drew a parallel to how much our school’s definition of “college and career readiness” has had to evolve over that same timeframe. This example reminds all of us as educators that our world is changing rapidly, and it is getting more and more difficult to predict what our future will look like. Given this, how are our teachers preparing students for this brave new world? Have their instructional approached changed? Have our school priorities changed? Do they need to change?

Our American PK-12 education system is at …