What is the impact of "purpose" on student mental health and engagement?
“This school has wasted my time for three and half years!” Alex shouted to me as she was leaving class on a Friday afternoon, in reference to her experience at the high school at which I’m working. Alex has never been one to hold back her opinion. While I knew not to take her words totally at face value–I know how great of an experience our high school provides to so many of our students–I couldn’t help but get stirred up by her statement. I felt for Alex. And the optimistic teacher in me wanted to do something about it.
Ms. Addy is a kindergarten teacher who hails from North Carolina. She comes from a big family, and loves to be outside and learn new things. Ms. Addy aspires to create encouraging and positive learning environments where students feel safe to challenge themselves, explore their worlds, and connect with community. As a culturally-responsive educator, Ms. Addy knows that it is very important for students’ identities and home lives to be reflected and celebrated in the classroom. She loves designing projects that engage students’ hearts, hands, and minds while encouraging them to follow their interests. She believes that elementary school is a time for curiosity, learning, and growth as both a student and citizen of the world.
How can restorative practices catalyze a school's transition from traditional education to a more progressive, project based learning model?
Walking around my school’s hallways always left me with a feeling of frustration. First of all, classrooms did not look like project-based learning classrooms. There was little to no student work on the walls, seats were usually in rows, teachers were in front of the classroom, lecturing, and the most frustrating of all, you could hear them talking to students in very commanding ways, with firm voices that left no room for student voice and choice. I decided to change this since I thought our school had come to a stop in its transition process. My main motivation was my own kids, who go to this school, and also the students I work with as a School Psychologist. I thought they deserved to be treated as intelligent, responsible and creative human beings. My solution was the implementation of Restorative Practices. The road was very bumpy, and I encountered a lot of resistance and setbacks, but in the end, I was able to facilitate restorative circles where my colleagues witnessed the power of restorative practices. Teachers started thinking about using circles to motivate their students to learn, to push the work forward, to get to know them better, to make them feel part of the community, to help them express their emotions in an effective way, to involve their families, to solve conflicts, and most importantly, to change the way they had been doing things. Throughout my research, I examine how restorative practices became the missing link for my school to continue to become a progressive, respectful, peaceful, project-based learning school.
How can we build opportunities for youth and adults to connect in meaningful ways, share passions and learn from each other?
This research project started with the belief that there are not enough communal places and programming for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to come together. I wanted to experiment with what happens when we created opportunities for youth and adults to connect in more meaningful ways- to talk about important issues, learn from each other’s experience, and share their own story.
How can the use of comprehensible literature increase Spanish language acquisition and mindsets about learning language?
In the United States, it is difficult to find someone that has graduated from High School in the past few decades that feels successful in their acquisition of a world language as a result of their K-12 education. If making language learning more authentic is the goal what is authentic language learning?
What conditions result in the most effective teacher collaboration?
Teacher collaboration is the norm. However, it functions in various ways. This study evaluates the impact of two key aspects of high functioning teacher collaboration; clarity of purpose and supportive structures. Key actions were taken during a third grade team’s collaboration time to address each key aspect. From teacher surveys, interviews, and debriefs paired with literature on the topic of teacher collaboration three central themes have been derived: (1) A clear purpose allows the team to prioritize work and narrow their focus on specific tasks; (2) structure helps to focus a team’s collaboration on specific work; and (3) good facilitation is a significant component of teacher collaboration.
What happens to students' literacy when I make process drama an integral part of my curriculum?
Educators have long studied the benefits of process drama – the use of dramatic activities for educational purposes with negotiable dramatic outcomes – on literacy and language acquisition. This action research project analyzes the ways in which process drama impacts classroom culture, student engagement with texts, and the development of critical literacy.
How do students experience community-service learning in second grade?
“During a recent lesson activity involving complete and incomplete sentences, I asked my students why it was important to learn the concept. A girl at the back of the carpet quickly and enthusiastically raised her hand. I called on her and repeated my question, “Why is it important to know how to write and speak in complete sentences?” She confidently responded, “So we will do good on a test.” My heart sank. Recently, it seemed that the purpose of my students’ learning was to succeed with an upcoming test. I prodded a bit more and asked her how complete sentences would help her in life, not just on a test. She looked confused. She finally responded, “So we will pass our tests in college.”
As standardized testing plays a larger role in education, students are struggling to articulate why they are learning something and how it applies to other people. My study investigated how 23 second-grade students at Finney Elementary School, a public school in Southern California, experienced community service learning, which I defined as servicing other communities with what is learned in the classroom. By engaging in several community service learning projects and analyzing student surveys, journals, work samples, exit cards, observations, and classroom discussions, I was able to illuminate the many benefits of connecting student learning with the world beyond the classroom doors.”
Third grade multiple subjects
My name is Bailey Hawke and I have been a part of the TAP for two years now. I moved from San Diego to Colorado for college and never thought I would come back, but then I heard about TAP! I student taught in 1st and 5th grade until being hired right in the middle at third grade. During my time in the program I learned what it really means to be a culturally responsive teacher and was given opportunities to better my practice. TAP allowed me to take a deep dive into specific content areas through research and lesson study. I chose to spend time looking at math curriculum and instruction due to my not-so-great experience as a math student. TAP allowed me to build connections with colleagues across the county and wonderful students at HTeNC.
Creating a culture of open communication and conflict resolution: Practices in a project-based middle school classroom
How do we create meaningful, equitable, deeper learning…for our teachers? This is the question that two of our contributors tackle. Celeste Kirsh shares how a specific approach to professional learning has supported and influenced her teaching. Meg Riordan and Emily Klein look at two schools to see how professional development strategies and mindset are transferred into the classroom, and how important it is for teachers to still be learners. As this article observes, although we all want our students to be deeply engaged, resilient, persistent and inquisitive, we sometimes forget that “teachers need help in learning how to do this as well, we forget that ‘better teaching’ is not instinctive.”