Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Monday, August 5, 2013

Making Health and Education Work for Our Students

Many US school districts face numerous challenges, especially when it comes to socioeconomics, parental involvement, and greater economic issues. This recent ASCD article sheds light on these issues and offers some practical solutions most schools can adopt in some form. Read on!
July 2013 | Volume 55 | Number 7
Aligning Health and Education in Today's Economic Context Pages 1-4,5

Aligning Health and Education in Today's Economic Context

By Sean Slade
According to the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, between 2006 and 2010, child poverty increased by more than a quarter, to 22 percent of all children under the age of 18. In 2011, more than 44 percent of children lived in low-income families, with 10 percent of children considered to be living in extreme poverty.
One implication of this "new poverty" for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities, is the need to provide health-related services to students and their families. Schools that might have taken their communities' wealth for granted now more frequently need to deal with issues of child hunger, well-being, and other adverse effects that can occur as a result of a declining economy. Often, it is those schools or districts that have been previously affluent that are the least prepared for change, as such communities have no historical knowledge of either the subtle signs of poverty or a clear understanding of how to confront the issues. Conversely, schools, districts, and communities that have had experience with poverty may actually fare better and provide guidance in ways to best identify and confront the effects of poverty.
A change in a family's circumstances may be as overt as a child being hungry or not having clean clothes to wear, but it is not always that clear. Some indicators of underlying stress because of a change in the family's economic stability may manifest early as sporadic erratic behavior or longer-term changes in behavior, difficulty completing work, or being late or absent from school. How can we spot these subtle indicators of poverty, and where does school health come in? Being aware of your school and its community is key. Although the school may not have changed, the neighborhood may have in the form of foreclosures, going-out-of-business sales, and people moving or relocating. We cannot assume that our community is the same as it was 5, 10, or 20 years ago. Communities are changing, and as educators, we need to be aware—especially if those changes affect our students' health and well-being.

The Whole Child Is Healthy

The first tenet of a whole child approach to education is ensuring that students are healthy. We know that if students aren't healthy, they can't learn. Health is foundational, and as such, is the most basic of the tenets to ensuring an effective education. Schools that promote a healthy environment and provide support services as needed can help prevent or tackle issues as they arise, whether they be academic, social, emotional, or behavioral. Central to a healthy environment are teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who take a personal interest in each student and in the success of each student.

Source: From Ending Childhood Hunger: A Social Impact Analysis, by Deloitte and the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices, 2013.

Health Is Foundational

After students' families, schools have the most daily direct contact with students and can play an integral role in ensuring that they are healthy. However, many schools have not actively ensured that health plays a core role in the education process, even though a wealth of information exists that highlights the links between student health and student success, including graduation rates and academic achievement.
We need to change how we view health and education and change how the two sectors operate, align, and integrate in the school and community setting. Yet the biggest change we need to make may be how educators view health. Improvement in health, well-being, and climate must be understood as an integral part of the school improvement process. Educators must view these areas as not only foundational for students' growth and development but also as foundational for teaching, learning, and school effectiveness.

The Next Evolution of School Health

For the past decade, ASCD has worked on strengthening these links between health and education—whether through ASCD's Healthy School Communities program or the Whole Child Initiative. These two essential sectors must align and work collaboratively if we are to truly support students and their growth and learning. If health and social service providers and schools are serving the same students in the same location and for the same needs, it makes sense to work together.
In 1987, noted school health experts Diane Allensworth and Lloyd Kolbe introduced the Coordinated School Health Model, in which school health is illustrated as a necessary foundation for not only healthy students, but also healthy and effective schools. And although this has been a well-established, easily understood model for the past two decades, it unfortunately hasn't had the effect inside education circles as its potential held.
In 2011, ASCD published The Healthy School Communities Model: Aligning Health and Education in the School Setting and asked for a paradigm shift in how education and health are viewed. ASCD is now going even further. In collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are bringing together experts from across the fields of health and education to work to embed school health firmly within a whole child approach to education.

Source: From Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, by Bureau of the Census, 2011.

The project's aim is to develop the next evolution of school health to one that ensures that the health of the student, the teacher, and the school are taken seriously by educators and, in particular, by those involved in the school improvement process. For health to be truly integrated into schools, it must be aligned to the school's policies and annual improvement processes. We are seeking to make health foundational—for learning and for growth and for the success of the whole child.
View an archived Whole Child Virtual Conference presentation by ASCD and the CDC on this subject, titled "Working Toward the Next Evolution for School Health," at

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