In continuing to talk about how we help all students to learn, regardless of their income status, regardless of the employment status of their parents, regardless of their class, we want to highlight the ways in which Milne and Kelvin Grove make sure these children learn! Last time we talked about how schools in which the teaching and learning is driven by high academic expectations for all students do better. These classrooms are characterized by conversation, inquiry, and collaboration. Today I would like to focus on what this looks like in our classrooms.
Students in classrooms with conversations excel. Sometimes I walk by a classroom and one of our teachers will explain to me why it is so loud. sometimes they are worried I will not like the volume. I always reassure them that this is the sound of learning! Our teachers tell each other to turn and talk, they have debates, and they ask questions. Ask your stduent tonight what kinds of questions they asked today and what kinds of conversations they had with their classmates.
Students in classrooms with inquiry learn more. Students in our schools aren't just told what to write down are what the answers are. They notice. they wonder. They discover. Our children are capable of making great discoveries and talkking about their learning in way s that help make it solid. Ask your children what they have discovered this week at school.
For more about inquiry learning, click this button.
Every school has a group of kids who are living near the poverty level. Some schools have more than others. Our schools have about 38% of our students living near the poverty line. We do not label these students, we don't treat them poorly because of it. But we do want them to succeed and we do go out of our way to support these students, regardless of how well resourced their homes are.
There is no silver bullet to helping students who live in poverty learn more. We call it closing the achievement gap, and there is no easy way to do this. But in the next couple of posts, I want to highlight the work we do at Milne grove and Kelvin Grove to make sure the gap doesn't get any wider. To make sure students from poverty learn just as much as students from homes where there are more resources.
Before I highlight this weeks strategy, I want to point out that students who live in poverty are infinity diverse, and by no means do we believe their homes are similar or can be generalized by blanket statements. We do believe that parents know what is best for their children, are doing their best, and we continually partner with all parents to ensure we are also doing what is best for children. We believe all our children are very capable and so are their parents!
Our strongest strategy for closing the learning gap is making sure we have high expectations for all our students, and especially for our students who need to close that gap faster. We believe that high expectations are best expressed through high-order learning activities that give students high level skills. We know that the research shows students who have access to higher level learning are surprisingly less likely to drop out than their peers. It just shows that children elevate themselves to our expectations. If our expectations are low, so will their growth be. If our expectations are high, out growth will be too!
Getting Along With TeachersThe Benefits of Getting AlongSure, it's good to get along with your teacher because it makes that time you spend in the classroom more pleasant. And yes, it's good to get along with your teacher because, in general, it's smart to learn how to relate to the different types of people you'll meet throughout your life.
But really, there's one super-important reason why you should get along with your teacher. Kids who get along with their teachers not only learn more, but they're more comfortable asking questions and getting extra help. This makes it easier to understand new material and do your best on tests.
When you have this kind of relationship with a teacher, he or she can be someone to turn to with problems, such as problems with learning or school issues, such as bullying. As a kid in elementary or middle school, you're at a wonderful stage in your life. You're like a sponge, able to soak up lots of new and exciting information. On top of that, you're able to think about all this information in new ways.
Your teacher knows that, and in most cases, is thrilled to be the person who's giving you all that material and helping you put it together. Remember, teachers are people, too, and they feel great if you're open to what they're teaching you. That's why they wanted to be teachers in the first place — to teach!
Some kids may be able to learn in any setting, whether they like the teacher or not. But most kids are sensitive to the way they get along with the teacher, and if things aren't going well, they won't learn as well and won't enjoy being in class.
What Does "Getting Along" Mean?"Getting along" means you and your teacher have a way of communicating that works for both of you and you both are getting what you need from the relationship. From your teacher's perspective, he or she wants to make sure you are paying attention, being respectful and polite, and trying your best to learn.
From your perspective, you want a teacher who is respectful to you, answers your questions, and tries to help you learn. In every school, kids will say certain teachers are mean or tough, but don't judge a teacher until you are in his or her class and can see for yourself. In the majority of cases, your teacher is on your side. And a teacher who's called tough may be someone who feels strongly about getting his or her job done — teaching you the subject you are supposed to learn.
It's also important to remember that making mistakes is a part of learning. By pointing out your errors and helping you correct them, a teacher is teaching you.
What If We Don't Get Along?Teachers want to get along with you and enjoy seeing you learn. But teachers and students sometimes have personality clashes, which can happen between any two people.
If you show your teacher that you want to make the situation better, he or she will probably do everything possible to make that happen. By handling a problem like this, you learn something about how to get along with people who are different from you.
Take these steps if the problem seems tough to solve:
In a business relationship, both parties get something out of the relationship, but don't necessarily need to be good friends or like each other a lot. They simply need to respect one another, be polite, and stay focused on the job at hand. In other words, they need to "get down to business."
When you act this way, and remember that you're not the only kid in the class, you are helping your teacher. Your teacher is likely to notice this and appreciate it.
Teachers also like it when students follow directions and when they learn and obey the rules of the classroom. For instance, there may be rules about listening when another student is talking, or about taking turns, or about raising your hand when you want to say something or ask a question.
What Are a Student's Responsibilities?Even if a certain teacher isn't your favorite, you can still have a successful relationship, especially if you fulfill your basic responsibilities as a student.
Here are some of those responsibilities:
Some teachers make such an impact that their students never forget them. Some former students may even go back to visit the teacher long after moving on to a higher grade or another school. Maybe you've seen these older students visit a teacher at your school. That's a real compliment to the teacher — that he or she was so special the student wants to keep in touch.
And there's an even higher compliment you can give a favorite teacher: Grow up to become a favorite teacher yourself!
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2013
CHECK OUT PARENTEENCONNECT.ORG
ParenTeenConnect.org, a free website for parents and their teens created by the makers of the Second Step Program, is a great resource for middle school families. It provides expert advice and practical tools for dealing with real parent-teen issues.
GET TALKING WITH PARENTEEN CONNECT
At ParenTeenConnect.org, you can hear from real parents and teens about the issues that cause conflict in their lives—including screen time, independence, responsibility, and communication—and get expert advice. Visit ParenTeenConnect.org at home with your child, select a topic together, and get talking!
We want your child to be successful in school, and that means going beyond the basics. Excelling in academic classes is important, but students also need to know how to learn, make good decisions, handle strong emotions, and get along with others.
This year, we'll begin the Second Step Middle School Program, which focuses on skills and concepts that are designed to help students both in and out of school. These include:
If you have any questions about the Second Step Middle School Program, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information. Thank you for supporting your child in learning the skills and concepts that lead to success in school and in life.
Erin Holland is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
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