Magic wand

Maintaining the Magic

Danielle Brown Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Parent Involvment

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I originally had blog posts planned, and mostly written, on topics of Prop.123 and ESSA, in the effort to remain current and connected to policy. I was ready to publish one of the above topics  and realized that this wasn’t what this post was meant to be. The post that would begin the winter break, which meant recapping the magic I witnessed in both my school and community over the first semester. The magic I am referring to, is the idea of teaching the Whole Child.

Know I am not pushing the aforementioned topics off indefinitely, but as we are in the holiday season ,I wanted to make room for magic!

The magic that is so evident all year long with the work educators and community members put into making our classrooms/schools safe, conducive to learning and engaging.

As an ASCD Emerging Leader, I have been immersed in the Whole Child Approach presented by ASCD. This initiative focuses on five tenets covering areas of students being challenged, healthy, safe, engaged and supported.

This post reflects the magic I have experienced as a teacher as well as serves as an opportunity for others to reflect on their endeavors in teaching the Whole Child.

After reviewing Arizona’s Whole Child Snapshot, I began to wonder where the priorities lie in districts/schools. I thought about if factors such as funding, standards and assessments played a role in teaching the Whole Child. I began to reflect on the five tenets, and reflected on what my school does to ensure the whole child is at the center of the magic.

Below are my reflections:

1.Challenged:

  • This year students in K-2 have been invited to participate in the Rubik’s Cube Club and Lego Robotics. Students can use the problem solving skills they learn in class and expand that knowledge, during this club time.

2. Healthy:

  • Our school is adopted by a battalion of soldiers. These soldiers visit the school on a biweekly basis and host a “boot camp” for students. This boot camp is less of a boot camp, and more of a time for students to be active, play games and have fun. Students play collaborative games  and learn proper ways to stretch before being active. This  opportunity allows students to gain an understanding of what being active can do for their health.

3. Safe:

  • In addition to safety rules and procedures in place to maintain a safe environment. Students are taught the importance of making good choices with visits from the guidance counselor, where lessons are targeted on being both physically and socially/emotionally safe, (Being a Bucket Filler). All personnel at the site own the responsibility of making the school a safe place, from safe areas to play, to behavior interventions offered by the behavior coach and counselor.

4. Engaged:

  • Students in each grade level are exposed and engaged project based learning activities, which requires inquiry. Students question, clarify, collaborate and hypothesize while making connections to the content.  Students are further connected to the curriculum by engaging in field trips or at times being the field trip. An example of this is the annual Farmer’s Market the Kindergarten students put on as a culmination of learning about where food comes from. Students make food using an item that can be found on the farm and then sell  the product. The money they raise is then donated to a food bank in time to be use to purchase Thanksgiving food, for those in need.

5. Supported:

  • Through the use of Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS), Teachers work collaboratively to provide strategies to support all students, those who require reteach as well as those who require enrichment. Educators at my site work with parents, to the model the partnership between the two. This modeling informs students that we are all in the work together. Parents are also used to share their skills, expertise, and connections to the community, to build an even larger network of support.

When students attend school, they don’t arrive with directions that state, “Please teach my whole child, don’t leave anything out.” It is assumed that the whole child will be taught, and with all tenets equally represented.

Where do we start? Who do we collaborate with? How do we make the resources we have work? How do we engage others? What is the impact on our students and our profession?

How do we maintain the magic?

 

Danielle Brown

Sierra Vista, Arizona

My name is Danielle Brown, and I am a PROUD, National Board Certified (EC-GEN) public school Kindergarten teacher in Southeast Arizona. I will begin my seventh year teaching, with one year as the arts integration specialist and 6 years as a kindergarten teacher. I have a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona and am currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership.
I believe in Board Certification and I support teachers, as a Candidate Support Provider, in their work to achieve Board Certification. I am continuing my journey of teacher leadership from the classroom as a 2016 ASCD Influence Leader, focusing on engaging educators in policy, as well as working as a National Policy Teacher Fellow with Hope Street Group, as well as a new member on the Arizona Teacher Solutions® Team. I love connecting with other educators, staying solutions oriented and growing as a professional.
You can find me on Twitter @TeachDB17, reach out, connect and let's grow together.

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  • Beth Maloney

    Danielle, I know that your classrooms is always filled with magic, as all great kinder classrooms are. I love your point, “When students attend school, they don’t arrive with directions that state, “Please teach my whole child, don’t leave anything out.” ” It is assumed that the whole child will be taught, and rightfully so!

  • Clint Heitz

    Danielle – This is the first post of yours that I have had the pleasure of ready, and I can’t wait to dive into more. I especially appreciated your reference to MTSS rather than RTI. There are so many more positive connotations with MTSS that remove much of the stigma that has been built up around RTI. Thank you for sharing!

  • Cheryl Redfield

    Thanks for the fresh perspective on the “whole-child” approach. What makes policy difficult at times is what I call the “da” factor. It seems to focus more on what should not be done rather than what we have the freedom to do. No thinking (and may I add caring) adult will ignore the needs of a child in their classroom. Our struggle is balance. Thank you for speaking to that!

  • Angelia Ebner

    Schools must be about the whole child. Thank you so much for sharing how you are doing this. Thank you for keeping the magic alive for students.