By Katrina Schwartz
High school English teacher Sarah Brown Wessling admits that she used to think about the first day of school as the time to lay out class rules and expectations. But after years of teaching, she has come to a different understanding about the best way to use this crucial time.
“Over time, I’ve realized I want them to walk away with an experience where they understand what learning is going to feel like in this space together,” Wessling said in a Teaching Channel video. “So I’ve given myself this challenge to teach on the first day.”
She gives students three clues and asks them to tell her what the class is going to be all about. During the class period, students share ideas with one another in pairs, but also to the whole group. Wessling takes them through Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” reading it out loud to them because she knows tone and inflection make a difference for comprehension with text this difficult. As they slowly move through the text, she models some of the habits of good readers.
Source: Leading With Learning On The First Day Of School To Build Class Culture | MindShift | KQED News
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his support today for legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe and inclusive learning environments for students and increase engagement with parents and their respective communities.
Torlakson appeared at a news conference on Tuesday with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill. “Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments. Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers,” Torlakson said. “In light of recent events at schools across our country, supporting districts in hearing their students’ voices and improving engagement with parents and communities is more vital than ever.”
AB 2820 was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). The bill sets up a “Community Engagement and School Climate for Continuous Improvement Block Grant.” This fund would provide school districts, at no cost, the option of using state-vetted school climate surveys, along with support and technical assistance on the administration of the surveys and utilization of results to improve school conditions and climate. If districts choose to use the surveys, they would be conducted annually with students, parents, teachers, and school staff.
Source: Torlakson Supports AB 2820 – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Anya Kamenetz
Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s television host, used to tell a story about when he would see scary things in the news as a child. His mother would reassure him by saying: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Lately, there’s been a surfeit of scary news: Charlottesville, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and now Las Vegas.
And unfortunately, the stress of children’s daily lives doesn’t go away with all that’s happening in the world around us. The National Survey of Children’s Health consistently finds that nearly half of American children experience at least one adversity such as physical abuse or food insecurity, and 1 in 5 experience at least two.
Source: How Teachers And Schools Can Help When Bad Stuff Happens | MindShift | KQED News
By Keri Luiz
Superintendent Janice Adams will ask Benicia Unified School District trustees on Thursday to approve the safety plans for all school sites and the district office, 350 East K St.
“The safety of students and staff is of utmost importance and an essential component of ensuring student and staff safety in the annual development and review of the Comprehensive School Safety/Emergency Operational Plan for the district and for individual sites,” Adams wrote in a report to the school board.
Each site in the district establishes a School Safety Committee. This committee can either be a part of the School Site Council SSC, or be an independent committee that reports to the SSC.
via Safety 1st: School board eyes site plans.
Our best political experts here at Education Week give bipartisan reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act slim odds of passing this year. (Roughly speaking, none, with a margin of error of +/-0.) But Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and his fellow Democrats have a new NCLB reauthorization bill, and it would do a lot with school climate.
Alyson Klein, over at Politics K-12, gives the full rundown. The first major change is that it would no longer be called No Child Left Behind. It’s called the Strengthening America’s Schools Act. (So now its critics can start using the phrase “SASAfrass.” You’re welcome.)
via How Would the New NCLB Reauthorization Bill Affect School Climate?.
In addition to promoting changes to school discipline policies and requiring reporting about teen pregnancy rates in the latest proposal to overhaul No Child Left Behind, the bill would protect students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender from bullying at school.
The proposal from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, incorporates language from Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken’s Student Nondiscrimination Act. (Read about how academic requirements and report cards for schools would work in my colleague Alyson Klein’s post on the Politics K-12 blog.)
via Proposed No Child Left Behind Rewrite Would Protect LGBT Students.
By Lanz Christian Bañes Times-Herald staff writer
About 200 people picked apart Wednesday a recent Solano County Grand Jury report highly critical of safety issues at Vallejo High School.
Opinions varied, with some supporting the report’s 15 findings and recommendations while others criticized the jury’s methodology during a special school board meeting at Vallejo High’s auditorium.
Willie Mims, a retired teacher from Peoples High School, questioned how well the grand jury understands Vallejo High’s challenges because the 19-member grand jury is largely white.
via Vallejo High, community discuss critical safety report.
It really, really does.
That’s the conclusion of a massive new review of research by experts at the National School Climate Center and Fordham University, both in New York City.
Distilling more than 200 studies and literature reviews, they concluded that “sustained positive school climate is associated with positive child and youth development, effective risk-prevention and health-promotion efforts, student learning and academic achievement, increased student graduation rates, and teacher retention.”
via School Climate Matters.
By Jane Meredith Adams
It’s the million-dollar question or, given the size of the California education budget, the $50-billion-dollar question: What makes extraordinarily successful schools different from other schools? The answer: school climate, according to a new study from WestEd, a San Francisco-based research agency.
The study looked at 1,715 California middle and high schools, sorted them by student demographics, and analyzed them by peer group. Schools that served students from high-income families with few special needs were compared to schools with a similar student cohort; schools with students from low-income families who were learning English were compared to schools with the same demographics.
via Positive school climate boosts test scores, study says – by Jane Meredith Adams.