At Brookwood Forest Elementary School, writes Principal Nathan Pitner, “We are developing a process of engaging students enough to foster their ownership of their learning and growth.” Such a belief and practice, he says, “elevates school from something to be endured to a tool that models the very growth it promotes.”
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All Learning Is Social and Emotional – that’s the message shared in a new ASCD book by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Dominique Smith, and the theme of this year’s Powerful Conversations Network professional learning. Ana Rosales, Instructional Partner at Athens Middle School, shares how this deep dive into SEL has already inspired the AMS faculty to make SEL skill-building a top priority in their school.
Wherever you teach, the stress, demands and expectations can take an emotional and physical toll. At Lakewood Primary in Phenix City, Principal Sarah Kimmel and her leadership team recognized the need to support and encourage faculty and staff throughout the year to help alleviate these pressures. Using the motivational book The Energy Bus, they are well on their way to “turning negative energy into positive achievement.”
The achievement gap between children who read or are read to, and children who are not, is well documented and widely discussed, writes Assistant Principal Jill Edwards. Some schools may view the gap as outside their control, but not Harlan Elementary in Florence City (AL), where educators are using a variety of “combat strategies,” including the newly launched video collection of Goodnight, Harlan bedtime stories.
“One of our parents walked up to a staff member and said ‘Thank you for coming into our community,’” writes principal Debbie Brooks. “It was then that I realized that to build and maintain lasting relationships with our families, we have to do more than offer THEM the experiences. We have to have the experiences WITH them.”
“When we heard about the idea of a book vending machine last year, we were intrigued, to say the least!” writes Pete Forster, principal of Yarbrough Elementary in Auburn City Schools. “We researched and found a vending machine company in New York that could provide exactly what we wanted to support our culture of reading.”
With half our population thought to be introverted to some degree, it’s important for educators to pay attention and adjust our lesson plans and teaching styles to better support our “quiet” kids, writes professed introvert and assistant principal DeAnna Miller. “Learning to help both extroverted and introverted students understand more about themselves and each other will only enhance our learning environments.”
Becoming more intentional about growing a team’s Emotional Intelligence supports us in the important work of teaching and learning, writes Dr. Beth Thompson, School Improvement Specialist for Blount County (AL) Schools. Thompson points readers to an insightful Edutopia article by Elena Aguilar and shares insights from her own experience as a coach and team leader.
The mastery of new, more rigorous standards has been challenging for many students, says the 2018-19 Alabama Teacher of the Year Zestlan Simmons, but “thanks to a steady process of guided practice and constant feedback” many more students are turning the corner – gaining the skills and knowledge they need to become informed citizens ready to flourish and contribute to the world.
Alabama’s rigorous College and Career Ready science standards require students to go beyond identifying facts and information. They require them to predict, analyze, and explain as they work to master the standards’ expectations. Science teacher and NBCT Amy Fowler Murphy offers an example from her chemistry class.