As I turn on the news to hear of yet another school shooting or hear of another teen suicide, I get a sinking feeling that our schools are failing our students somehow. I feel confident that students are growing academically, but I wonder if that is enough. We have such a focus on test scores and getting through our curriculum that I am afraid we are leaving out many of the most important lessons we should be teaching our children.
As discussed in What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, teachers know that their duty exceeds the cognitive development of other students. As accomplished teachers, “we are devoted to supporting the development of character and preparing students for a successful future.” I am proud to say that my school district recently became one of 130 plus schools in the nation to be chosen as a Challenge Success school. Challenge Success is an expansion of SOS (Stressed-Out Students) Project at Stanford University. At Challenge Success, they believe that our society has become too focused on grades and test scores, leaving little time for kids to develop necessary skills to become more resilient, ethical, and motivated learners.
Challenge Success works with educators, parents and students to identify and solve problems and apply best practices in areas such as curriculum, assessment, homework, school schedule and a healthy school climate. Their goal is to help teachers increase student motivation as well as critical thinking skills, and learn how to deal effectively with life challenges at the same time.
Knowing that accomplished teachers work to “increase their students’ engagement and motivation by providing them with option from which to choose, fostering their ownership in learning, and setting high expectations”, my district has implemented several family nights where no homework can be given and families are encouraged to bond. This has been widely accepted by the parents in our community and is a big success. Teachers have examined and made positive changes to their homework loads and created time in the day for a few moments to de-stress after shadowing a student for a day.
I am proud to belong to a district that recognizes the whole student and one that uses true research as a basis for growth and change.
Article by Carla Beardslee, NBCT