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Posted at 11:22 AM ET, 08/26/2010

Getting real about social, emotional learning

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Sean Slade, director of Healthy School Communities, part of the Whole Child Initiative at ASCD, an educational leadership organization.

By Sean Slade
There was plenty to take away from the first federal Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, but the comment that stood out to me the most may have been the most obvious.

It came from Philip Rodkin, an associate professor of child development at the University of Illinois, as he was describing the interactions that go on in and outside the classroom. Initially he spoke in the context of the summit – bullying - but as the discussion went on it was clear that the theme applied not only to student behavior but also teaching and learning, social development and student growth.

He described the classroom as a “community of 30.”

Nothing too remarkable there – except when you consider the implications. What that means inherently is that the school and more so the classroom is a place where students learn not only cognitively, but also socially and emotionally. Children are there to learn not only how to read, write, add, and subtract, but also how to work together as a group, a team, a community.

We already have the structures and settings to guide this. Children test out behaviors in the home, which is typically a safe and finite environment to grow and practice social interactions. Interactions take place between a regulated number of people – immediate family, then extended family, friends and neighbors – and around a fairly fixed set of issues.

From there children enter the classroom, a more formalized, larger, and more dynamic environment. Preschool and elementary children are typically with the same teacher in the same classroom, a safer and controlled environment with again a limited number of participants and a limited number of variables. As they mature and become more skilled and accustomed to these social interactions, they expand their environments and communities and test their behaviors, with a growing level of independence and greater socialization required.

But if this is the case, why have we not articulated this as succinctly as Dr. Rodkin did: It’s a community and one that needs to learn how to behave, interact, and get along together.

Children are in a community of 30 inside the classroom and as such need to learn how to operate as part of that community before they successfully participate in the larger school environment (a community of say 300) and the larger middle school (600), high school (1000), and eventually college or the workforce.

And if we have set up environments to assist this, why have we not also distinctly aligned social and emotional learning (SEL) to the programs, standards, evaluations, and assessments that take place at the school? Yes, many schools have added SEL to the topics to be covered over the course of the year but fewer have actually consciously incorporated SEL into the fabric of what goes on in the classroom and the school.

If socialization is key to student growth and if we have environments designed to foster its growth, and if a lack of socialization skills can have detrimental effects upon another key aspect of the school environment – cognitive development – then why don’t we do a better job of articulating this?

At least as Dr. Rodkin stated, it should be necessary for every teacher to understand what “this society of children is like at your very own school.”

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | August 26, 2010; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  ascd, bullying and schools, bullying summit, sean slade, social and emotional learning  
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Comments

Valerie,

Is it possible to do a piece on the appalling speech that Michelle Rhee gave in front of new teachers, as reported by your colleague Bill Turque?

The Chancellor of DCPS spoke about putting tape over the mouths of children, taking them on a field trip without permission, and mimicked an African American child.

I am simply horrified by this. Why did this get only one blog entry as coverage?

Posted by: peteyamama1 | August 26, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

What that means inherently is that the school and more so the classroom is a place where students learn not only cognitively, but also socially and emotionally. Children are there to learn not only how to read, write, add, and subtract, but also how to work together as a group, a team, a community.

At least as Dr. Rodkin stated, it should be necessary for every teacher to understand what “this society of children is like at your very own school.”
------------------
The Title 1 public poverty public schools can be characterized as unsafe and with classrooms where the disruptive and prone to violence are accepted as the norm and tolerated. The reality to the normal students is that the disruptive and prone to violence rule in the classrooms and not teachers.

There is high crime rates and high rates of unwed mothers in the community. Drop out rates are high and most children are more likely to wind up in jail instead of finding a job.

These are the accepted norms for these schools and the community.

These public schools continuously demonstrate their success in social and emotional learning for the community since crime rates, rates of unwed mothers, and drop rates are continuously rising.

Why do so many educators like Sean Slade appear to live in a closet?

As an adult Sean Slade would not want to be forced to associate all day with the disruptive and prone to violence, yet he simply accepts the current policy that teachers simply need class room management skills to deal with the disruptive and prone to violence.

The reality is that early on there are children that are disruptive and prone to violence that do not belong in classrooms with normal children.

Teachers are aware of the problems at the Title 1 public poverty public schools.

Perhaps if educators like Sean Slade would come out of his closet there would be real policies at these schools to deal with the problem and not simply allow the disruptive and prone to violence to simply take over the public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 26, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Sean,

When I have seen social and emotional skills taught, it just seems the kids ignore the lessons.

Posted by: jlp19 | August 26, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Montessori programs place a strong emphasis on the social and emotional aspects of development and have shown huge benefits for those children in terms of their ability to self-regulate and problem-solve peacefully. Yes, Bsall, even the public Montessori programs in Title 1 schools. See Milwaukee City schools as an example. (Though for the record, Bsall, I'm totally with you that poverty and the culture associated with it are the number one challenge facing public ed today...)

Posted by: uva007 | August 26, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

bsallamark,

I understand your frustration. The refusal of schools and systems to enforce their rules is a huge problem. Establishing disciplinary credibility is a key, but it is also just a step which is necessary but not sufficent for building teams.

I love the way that the post described communities. Frequent readers probably get tired of me rcounting my school's body count, and the 40 + kids who I have lost to killing someone or being murdered. Now I'm at home writing my book, I check records and recall even more deadly violence, and more times I've had kids on one side of the room whose family had shot kids or family members on the other side of the room. The system keeps making it more difficult to create a community, but we've have to try.

There's a point to my battle stories. Young teachers who now are taught to focus unflinchingly on instruction recognize the same kids have problems, but in team meetings they would often be unaware of how many of our kids are mentally ill, suicidal, mourning, etc., and ask why I give such a sobering asssessments of our mutual students. Its because the kids tell me! Who would we confide in, the person who concentrates on aligned instruction on tested material, or the person who teaches and listens to the whole child, and concentrates on building the entire learning community?

Posted by: johnt4853 | August 26, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Challenges clear for School 61 kindergartners

During one play period, a dispute arose between a boy and a girl about some foam blocks.

The boy, who wanted them all to himself, picked up a hardcover copy of "The Cat in the Hat" and whacked the girl with the book -- twice, on her leg.

When she refused to give in, the boy thrust a clenched fist into her face.

Then, he grabbed her by the throat. His 5-year-old hands weren't big enough to cause real injury, but they were enough to force the girl to give up the blocks.

His triumph would be short-lived.

A second boy who had been playing with the girl earlier returned and found the blocks in new hands. He took them back.

The first boy couldn't allow this. He got up in the newcomer's face just as he had the girl's.

This time, though, he had messed with the wrong kindergartner.

The second boy punched him square in the jawbone, knocking him back into a bookshelf. Stunned, the reeling lad felt his reddening cheek and then gathered himself.

With both boys on the floor, he retaliated with a two-footed kick to his challenger's chest.

Before the two adults in the classroom knew what was going on, the boys separated themselves. The girl and her knight -- in white sneakers -- got their blocks back.

Kindergarten has many lessons to offer. Some are taught by teachers. Some are taught by bullies. Some are taught by little boys who won't be pushed around.

http://www.indystar.com/article/20100824/NEWS1003/8220394/1013/NEWS04
........................
I guess the schools does not want small hard objects in the class room as using a weapon when fighting is for the later grades. The child that used a book for a weapon is advanced. I doubt scissors will be given out in this school.

Wonderful article on how educators are so willing to accept the norms of Title 1 public poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 26, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"Wonderful article on how educators are so willing to accept the norms of Title 1 public poverty public schools."

Wow, bsallamack, I'm completely shocked at the blame you place upon teachers that it is OUR fault that children come from a difficult home life. I teach at a Title 1 school and my experience is NOTHING like what you describe earlier. I have never had a fight break out in my classroom, or any violence for that matter. In fact, I didn't even write an administrative referral last year. My students are respectful, intelligent, and most go to college or the military. Yes, their home lives are horrible but I strongly disagree with your stereotype that all Title 1 schools are plagued by these horrible kids and teachers who don't care. Have you ever stepped foot in a Title 1 school to see what actually goes on there? Have you ever talked to a teacher who works in a Title 1 school??

Is there more schools could do to promote the idea of educating the Whole Child? Of course. But to imply that social skills are completely disregarded in a Title 1 school and that all Title 1 school children are violent criminals who get girls knocked up is horribly offensive to those of us who work so hard everyday to provide the best learning experience possible for our Title 1 students.

Posted by: shells2611 | August 26, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of my son's soccer team. The coach keeps saying things like,"You all know each others names right?"

Of course they do NOT know each other and kids who were not on the team last year have no clue who anyone is!

The same thing happens in classrooms. Then we wonder why some kids drop out. They just never feel like they belong.

Posted by: celestun100 | August 26, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

"Wonderful article on how educators are so willing to accept the norms of Title 1 public poverty public schools."

Wow, bsallamack, I'm completely shocked at the blame you place upon teachers that it is OUR fault that children come from a difficult home life. I teach at a Title 1 school and my experience is NOTHING like what you describe earlier.

Posted by: shells2611
.............................
Do not blame me. I did not write the article.

Also I am not Secretary of Education that claimed that the teachers in the Title 1 public poverty public schools have to be trained in class room management while this is not necessary for teachers that will not be teaching in the Title 1 public poverty public schools.

Apparently there is no problem but different methods are required in training for teachers that will teach in the Title 1 public poverty public schools.

In this age of data for parents and teachers I do not see the Secretary of Education willing to publish to parents all reports of children violence at schools.

Also I do not see any special classes for the students that are dumped back in public schools from public charter schools.

Oh and get your facts straight I am not blaming teachers. I am blaming the school administrators for not having policies for the problems and the Secretary of Education for ignoring the problem. The problem is disruptive and prone to violence students that do not belong in classes with normal children.

I fully understand that teachers have no control of the problems and are simply seen as scapegoats for those who want to ignore the problems.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Is there more schools could do to promote the idea of educating the Whole Child? Of course. But to imply that social skills are completely disregarded in a Title 1 school and that all Title 1 school children are violent criminals who get girls knocked up is horribly offensive to those of us who work so hard everyday to provide the best learning experience possible for our Title 1 students.

Posted by: shells2611
................................
One tires of teachers that drink the kool aid that teachers are responsible for everything.

Teachers may be forced to accept disruptive and/or prone to violence students in classes with normal children, but should stop believing that they are doing the normal children in classes a favor.

Like it or not there are children from kindergarten on that can not simply be dumped into classes with normal children.

The Title 1 public poverty public schools will always be substandard and inferior schools if they continue to simply dump the disruptive and/or prone to violence students into classes with children that are not disruptive and not prone to violence.

No parent wants their children in classes with disruptive and/or prone to violence children.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

GetPsychedSports.org funded an economic report here in Massachusetts called "The Economic Burden of Crime and Substance Abuse in Massachusetts and the City of Boston" by Dr. Clive Belfield of Queens College and Columbia University.

Massachusetts spends each year over $6.5 billion on just these two issues. Clearly, there is a human cost, but the financial costs is huge when less than 1% is spent in prevention.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is a way to combat the twin evils of violence and addictions. In Massachusetts, the new Anti-Bullying Law (Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010) incorporates Section 16 which mandates that the Dept of Ed promulgate guidelines for an SEL curriculum for k-12 and for it to be ready by June, 2011. The Legislature has concurred, after study, that SEL can change behavior and that schools should be vehicle for this change.

If you heard the testimony of the mothers of murdered children given at Boston City Hall before the City Council two weeks ago, you would never question why we need SEL to make a difference.

It will take time, but the money we save when we reduce the need for the services that eat up 23% of the state budget, will be well worth the small investment.

Posted by: mitchly | August 27, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

"...most children are more likely to wind up in jail instead of finding a job."
Posted by: bsallamack
-------------------------------------------
You lost ALL credibility with this kind of false statement. I can only hope you were exaggerating.

Posted by: Soguns1 | August 27, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Many years ago I made a suggested that students should be taught appropriate social behavior and strategies by qualified school councilors. The reasons I gave were to stop bullying, stop mental and physical child abuse in the home, by teaching parenting skills, coping skills, and appropriate vs inappropriate social problem solving skills. My suggestion fell on deaf ears and I was told that these are things that are taught in the home by parents and are not appropriate for public schools to engage in.

Studies continue to show that child abuse is a major problem throughout the land as abused children are likely to become abusers because it is what they learn from their family. Studies have also shown the those who are subject to bullying have lower grades that those who are not bullied. The facts show that anti-social behavior is widespread in our society and that it is a detriment to student's ability to learn and to thrive as members of society.

In short, I think teaching appropriate social behavior and skills is needed and will help to improve life for everyone. Such skills are more important than history, geography, and all the other subjects that are traditional taught in school.

I think the concern is that we would be teaching morality; and that is a job for religion and family not schools. I think of it as teaching applied psychology and sociology to equip our students with skills necessary to function as a member of society.

Posted by: ppease5 | August 27, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Do you have any suggestions on how to RAISE student's achievement in poor, urban schools? I may be mistaken, but the only posts I see from you are posts talking about the problem rather than suggestions on how to help fix it.

Posted by: Soguns1 | August 27, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

For the past four years I have been doing research in elementary classrooms in high poverty schools in and around Portland, Oregon. After viewing many teachers, I select those I consider most effective to follow over a long period of time.

Although my focus has been on literacy learning, I can't help but notice how peacefully and cooperatively the children deal with each other. Rarely do the teachers need to interrupt instruction to discipline individuals or the class. These teachers do not "teach social skills," they demonstrate them through their own speech and actions and facilitate them through well-planned group and partner activities in which children learn with and from each other .

Yet, these eexcellent teachers

Posted by: joney | August 27, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see the increasing body of evidence that points to how VITAL this type of education is. Just this past week, I was interviewed along with other experts on this subject on Seattle's KIRO Newstalk radio. As part of the interview, Dr. Ronald Stevens, Executive Director of the National School Safety Center in California stated: "If you think teaching social skills and positive citizenship behavior is investing too much time," he said. "Try ignoring the issue and see what happens." For more on this, the article is available at http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/local_news_articles/20100824/Will-a-manners-class-improve-Washington's-schools

The problem is, until school administrators and legislators realize that the lack of adequate social skills and emotional learning is THE biggest Achilles Heel in education and deal with it at THAT level, nothing will change. True, there are more enlightened educators who accept this, but funding and support must be made available if we're to see a real change. Until that happens, we'll continue to throw more money at our educational system, and continue to see little-to-no improvement in outcomes, bullying and more.

Posted by: CorinneGregory | August 27, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Do you have any suggestions on how to RAISE student's achievement in poor, urban schools? I may be mistaken, but the only posts I see from you are posts talking about the problem rather than suggestions on how to help fix it.

Posted by: Soguns1
..........................
I have posted them before.

At the same time I get tired with this idea.

A problem exists but everyone is supposed to ignore the problems, and pretend that the problem does not exist, since those in charge do not want to deal with the problem.

Supposedly if the toilet is overflowing, no one should mention the problem.

Real common sense.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Do you have any suggestions on how to RAISE student's achievement in poor, urban schools?

Posted by: Soguns1
...................
For Soguns1 who believes that we all should pretend that major problems do not exist.


How to fix the problem of education in Title 1 poverty public schools.

Test every child when they enter the public school system and place them in classes based upon their current abilities and skills so teachers can teach to the level of the class.

There are already tests for testing children prior to entering kindergarten.

Divide primary education in half with schools of K to 2nd grade and schools of 3rd to 5th grade. This allows you to use existing schools and staff. On this basis each grade will have 4 different levels to match the current skills and abilities of children.

Now you are maximizing education for children in each class room. This method also allows you to spend more money for children that need more help since children are in classes based upon their current skills and abilities. Teacher aids can be assigned to lower level classes to assist in raising the skills and capabilities of these children. This allows schools to pin point resources where they are most needed.

Yearly tests would be used to indicate the level children are prepared to go into for the next school year. Knowing the current abilities and skills in their class will allow teachers to use the teaching method best suited to the class. This testing would not be outside expensive testing but the once quaint idea where a teacher was able to determine grades on a report card. Informal class tests would be used. One of the responsibilities of the principal would be to review the appropriateness of tests

Do this for three years and you will dramatically increase the achievement in primary Title 1 public schools.

...........................................................................................
I should have mentioned that the testing done would not be outside expensive testing but the once quaint idea where a teacher was able to determine grades on a report card. Informal class tests would be used.

One of the responsibilities of the principal would be to review the appropriateness of tests. As a college adjunct teacher in the late 1970's I used a mimeograph machine to run off tests. A computer with a printer is far more cost effective than outside experts and standardized testing.

Too much money is being spent on standardized testing that only allows for bogus claims of improvement.

Cost would probably be down from current costs.

An interesting thought is that there is no reason why for the 4th and 5th grade the same teacher should be teaching a class for a year instead of only having the class for half a year.

The organization of schools should be to obtain the maximum benefit for students and not for the convenience of school administrators.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The art and science of teaching is in the methods and delivery of information. The learning of skills, the gathering and processing of knowledge, and the use and application of these skills and knowledge are all within the aptitude, attitude and motivation of each student.

Since 2000 we, at KidsDadsMoms.com, have been working with teachers, parents and clinicians conveniently on-line to enhance the individual development and skills of average, gifted or challanged children ages infant to 14 years old.

Our Skills Profiling Assessment Tools help parents and teachers work together in identifying each child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, skills, abilities, interests and preferences. Our analysis summarizes and identifies: Medical, Physical, Psychological Functions and Medication & Nutritional Habits; Modalities - Learning Pathways; Dominant Learning Preferences, Social and Emotional Characteristics; Hobbies, Interests, Talents, Sports; Brain Dominance and Attention Span; Academic Conditions; plus which skills you want to take action on immediately.

The static and dynamic attributes of each child are individually and compatibly matched with age and grade appropriate, researched or evidence based subject matter learning tools that are coded with 68 points of compatibility in learning, educational and developmental values, and in personal traits. These selected hands-on learning materials and software are computer matched to engage each student, reduce learning frustrations and energize the child’s learning experiences by creating a pathway of least resistance.

We applaud Dr. Rodkin for understanding that holistic development of a child means emphasizing the organic or functional relation between parts and the whole. We encourage teachers and parents to build a bridge between the home and school in the greater interest of their students. We believe that matching the right tools with each child will enhance the understanding and skill development of each child cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically. We, at KidsDadsMoms.com stand ready to provide the diagnostic and learning tools to make this possible.

Posted by: lsminkus | August 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"...most children are more likely to wind up in jail instead of finding a job."
Posted by: bsallamack
-------------------------------------------
You lost ALL credibility with this kind of false statement. I can only hope you were exaggerating.

Posted by: Soguns1
.........................
The New York Times recently had Op-Ed Columnist from a black columnist on the problems of blacks in areas such as the Title 1 poverty public schools such as D.C.

Too Long Ignored
By BOB HERBERT

"More than 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers."

Read this article since apparently to your view this New York Times columnist also does not have any credibility.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Studies continue to show that child abuse is a major problem throughout the land as abused children are likely to become abusers because it is what they learn from their family. Studies have also shown the those who are subject to bullying have lower grades that those who are not bullied. The facts show that anti-social behavior is widespread in our society and that it is a detriment to student's ability to learn and to thrive as members of society.

Posted by: ppease5
...........................
Total disregard that most of the children in class rooms do not have these problems, and we simply throw all of the problem children into classes with these normal children and make them pay the costs for our failure to recognize that disruptive and prone to violence children do not belong in a class with normal children.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see the increasing body of evidence that points to how VITAL this type of education is. Just this past week, I was interviewed along with other experts on this subject on Seattle's KIRO Newstalk radio. As part of the interview, Dr. Ronald Stevens, Executive Director of the National School Safety Center in California stated: "If you think teaching social skills and positive citizenship behavior is investing too much time," he said. "Try ignoring the issue and see what happens." For more on this, the article is available at http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/local_news_articles/20100824/Will-a-manners-class-improve-Washington's-schools
Posted by: CorinneGregory
............................
When did simple standards such as having safe schools and classrooms with teachers that can teach and children can learn simply become no longer accepted by the educators in this nation.

Instead of teaching social skills and positive citizenship behavior, the public schools should simply teach that those disruptive and/or prone to violence will not be allowed in classes with normal children.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"For Soguns1 who believes that we all should pretend that major problems do not exist."
--Did I ever give my opinion(s) on what I thought the problem is in poor, urban schools? Why are you ASSuming this?

I am very aware of the out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate for single, black woman. What does that have to do with you claiming that the incaration rate is higher than black males being being able to find a job?

Posted by: Soguns1 | August 27, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Follow-up to peteyamama1. Teachers in the District of Columbia are mandatory reporters. Michelle Rhee's admission of abusing 35 children was a reportable offense. In their role as teachers, they had a responsibility to report her to the appropriate authorities. Their failure to do so renders them unqualified. Because her admission was also published, officials in DCPS should have contacted the Baltimore City School System, and they should have started an investigation immediately, and Rhee should have been removed as Chancellor until the conclusion of that investigation. That is what Rhee would do to a teacher who was "accused" of abuse. Rhee actually confessed.

Posted by: rjchittamssr | August 27, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I helped arrange an awards dinner for the president of the company, attended not only by the workers but by executives from companies we dealt with. The workers were not exactly behaving crudely, but were greeting remarks with whistles and calls and wisecracks. I suddenly realized that the only reason I knew better was my parents. It's not that the parents WON'T teach their kids social behavior; they don't know themselves. And what good does an advanced academic degree do if you can't get along in the workplace?

(And when do they teach this? The school where I subbed this morning interrupted the lessons for 45 minutes for an assempbly for a magazine subscription program. Let's eliminate the pep rallies, standardized tests, contests, spirit days, etc., and there would be at least a little more time for teaching.)

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 27, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Social and emotional learning and interaction rely on the ability to enter the Optimum Learning/Optimum Performance State (OPS/OLS) at will. Drs. Csikszentmihalyi, Stine, Posner, Sylvester, etc. all put forward theories on how to attain this learning and performance state.

The latest educational research tells us that the brain is a 3 ½ pound chemical factory and the performing arts can be used to stimulate the production of the chemicals required to enter the OLS/OPS. After a positive social and emotional performance or artistic interaction “The brain produces the happy learning juices,” and according to Dr. Sylvester at the University of Oregon, they’ll want to do it again tomorrow.

In my discussions with Dr. Michael Posner on meditation, he stated that meditation produces cortisol, a stress-management chemical. I informed him that we actors and musicians have been meditating for approximately 2,300 years. Dr. Posner replied, “Yes, and we scientists are finally catching up.”

I’d be happy to forward you my research work in progress, Creative Thinking and Learning with Movies in Mind.

Posted by: bmizerski | August 27, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

It's not accurate to say that all Title One students won't find jobs and will end up in jail. But, as a correctional educator, I can comment from my experience. I have observed that most adult male inmates I've taught are extremely lacking in social and emotional skills. In fact, before I can be an effective teacher of each student, I most always have to work on social skills. One tends to speculate that if more of these skills were taught at an earlier age, we might have less people in prisons.

Posted by: JanChamberlin | August 27, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Sometimes your comments are a little blunt, but overall, your comments come too close to fact and that is why everyone wants to argue with you. I teach in a Title 1 school in Texas. This problem is nation wide, but it is so politically sensitive that no one wants to address the problem. It is easier to dance around the problem with semantics, subgroups, and so-called experts advancing theories that often do not have any practical application.

I might be wrong, but your comments lead me to believe that you are extremely concerned about the normal children and how their learning potential is affected by all the BS that now passes for education. A Title 1 school represents the most challenging environment in learning because of the clientele that populates it. And yes, many of the students that attend a Title 1 school will become familiar with our legal system simply because what they do is considered normal in their life. These children have learned very young in life that they must fight, intimidate, and sneak to satisfy their needs and desires. “SEL” programs actually sound pretty good except that they interfere with the test score that measures the value of public education right now. How does one test the social balance of a student?

To be frank, it really doesn’t matter whether the school is a Title 1 school or a “normal” school. All public schools have been overloaded with social and educational demands that do not make educational sense! How does a “community of 30” progress educationally when five of the thirty have IEPs that slow down the class? Be honest! Remember, those children are going to be tested so that some educational quack or classroom dropout can justify their job. There are children that do not belong in a normal classroom because they can educationally harm the students that have come to class to learn. In Texas, the so-called gifted children are actually segregated from normal classrooms because their “needs” are not met. Why should it be any different for normal children? Those students, regardless of their excuse, that cannot perform in a community of 30 should be placed in an environment that will focus on their behavioral and emotional needs and let the rest of the world get on with the business of learning!

Posted by: jdman2 | August 27, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Do you have any suggestions on how to RAISE student's achievement in poor, urban schools? I may be mistaken, but the only posts I see from you are posts talking about the problem rather than suggestions on how to help fix it.

Posted by: Soguns1
........................
"For Soguns1 who believes that we all should pretend that major problems do not exist."
--Did I ever give my opinion(s) on what I thought the problem is in poor, urban schools? Why are you ASSuming this?

Posted by: Soguns1
........................

It does not matter what your opinion was since you wanted from me a solution for the problem that I commented on.

See how that works.

It appears that Soguns1 is the usual faker with the question:
Well what are your suggestions?

Unfortunately with the fakers like Soguns1 when you do give them a solution they do not know what to do.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: Sometimes your comments are a little blunt, but overall, your comments come too close to fact and that is why everyone wants to argue with you. I teach in a Title 1 school in Texas. This problem is nation wide, but it is so politically sensitive that no one wants to address the problem. It is easier to dance around the problem with semantics, subgroups, and so-called experts advancing theories that often do not have any practical application.

I might be wrong, but your comments lead me to believe that you are extremely concerned about the normal children and how their learning potential is affected by all the BS that now passes for education. A Title 1 school represents the most challenging environment in learning because of the clientele that populates it. And yes, many of the students that attend a Title 1 school will become familiar with our legal system simply because what they do is considered normal in their life. These children have learned very young in life that they must fight, intimidate, and sneak to satisfy their needs and desires. “SEL” programs actually sound pretty good except that they interfere with the test score that measures the value of public education right now. How does one test the social balance of a student?

Why should it be any different for normal children? Those students, regardless of their excuse, that cannot perform in a community of 30 should be placed in an environment that will focus on their behavioral and emotional needs and let the rest of the world get on with the business of learning!

Posted by: jdman2
................
Nice to see some honesty.

The reality is “SEL” programs are not necessary if the normal children see that the disruptive and/or prone to violence are removed permanently from their classes.

Leaving the disruptive and/or prone to violence in classes with normal children simply is an anti “SEL” program for the normal children.

Yes teachers in all public schools have been weighted down with a great deal that has little if anything to do with education. But this is simply an outgrowth of the failure to deal with the problem of the Title 1 poverty public schools.

If these problems would be dealt with there would no longer be the pretense that a teacher is expected to deal totally on their own with social problems regarding children that are totally beyond their control.

I wish that there were more in education like you to recognize and deal with the problem.

I follow these columns regularly and am amazed at the irrelevant side issues in public education that are continuously discussed.

Last year in Chicago a black student that was doing well in the public schools was beaten to death in the street by some of the disruptive and prone to violence that were allowed for so long to simply remain in classes with normal students.

It is time for educators and political leaders to deal with the problem.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

It's not accurate to say that all Title One students won't find jobs and will end up in jail. But, as a correctional educator, I can comment from my experience. I have observed that most adult male inmates I've taught are extremely lacking in social and emotional skills. In fact, before I can be an effective teacher of each student, I most always have to work on social skills. One tends to speculate that if more of these skills were taught at an earlier age, we might have less people in prisons.

Posted by: JanChamberlin
.......................
This is probably correct but at the same time this can not be taught in normal classrooms in the public schools.

It is insane to leave the disruptive and/or prone to violence in classes with normal children where daily the normal children see that the system simply accepts and tolerates disruptive and violent behavior.

Imagine if this was done in a prison where nothing was done in response to violence and disruption.
---------

I did not say that all children would wind up in prison.

"There is high crime rates and high rates of unwed mothers in the community. Drop out rates are high and most children are more likely to wind up in jail instead of finding a job."

For those that think I am blunt perhaps they should read a respected black writer of the New York Times who has for a long time been concerned with poverty among blacks.

Too Long Ignored, By BOB HERBERT, NY Times

The abominable incarceration rates among blacks are the result of two overwhelming factors: the persistence of criminal behavior by a significant percentage of the black population, and a criminal justice system that in many respects is racially discriminatory and out of control.

...a lack of gainful employment has been a huge contributor to the problems faced by blacks.

.............
It is also interesting to note that one of main programs that the NAACP and the Urbane League wanted was for safe public schools when they voiced criticism at Race To The Top.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 27, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Some interesting (and heated) comments and one I have an issue with is bsallamack's

"I follow these columns regularly and am amazed at the irrelevant side issues in public education that are continuously discussed."

Many of us in schools do not believe the social and school climate is is at all irrelevant but in fact fundamental. Fundamental for both student growth and learning. A contrary to some comments these are not issues for a Title 1 vs a higher SES school but fundamental for all schools and all kids. Refocusing attention on the school and classroom as a community also does not necessarily require new programs, time or much effort - it requires a change in belief that the climate matters and that the students are learning not only content to repeat at test time but also how to interact, socialize and work in their community.

If schools are only there to force content knowledge into the heads of kids then lets develop a system where they dont need to worry about interacting, socializing, problem solving or group dynamics.

Personally I and many many educators believe that school is more than content delivery system but rather a system to prepare kids for life.

Posted by: arlington101 | August 28, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Some interesting (and heated) comments and one I have an issue with is bsallamack's

"I follow these columns regularly and am amazed at the irrelevant side issues in public education that are continuously discussed."

Many of us in schools do not believe the social and school climate is is at all irrelevant but in fact fundamental.

Posted by: arlington101
...................
I am amazed at Americans.

They continuously accept inferior public schools that are unsafe and with classrooms where the disruptive and/or prone to violence are accepted in classes with normal children and then pretend that social and school climate is important.

How about creating a school climate where children that want to learn can learn instead of a unsafe environment where the disruptive and/or prone to violence rule?

Posted by: bsallamack | August 28, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

If schools are only there to force content knowledge into the heads of kids then lets develop a system where they dont need to worry about interacting, socializing, problem solving or group dynamics.

Posted by: arlington101
.............................
Are Americans really this removed from reality?

No middle class American would want to daily deal with an environment with peers that were disruptive and/or prone to violence, yet there is this continuous pretense that poor children should simply early on learn from schools that it is necessary to accept the disruptive and/or prone to violence daily in classes with the children that are not disruptive or prone to violence.

Yes great lessons for children in interacting, socializing, problem solving and/or group dynamics in continuously dealing with those that are disruptive and/or prone to violence in normal classes since the adults will not deal with the problem.

Great that children learn early on that the disruptive and/or prone to violence are simply accepted as the norm.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 28, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Bizarre as it seems we may actually be discussing and asking for the same thing
bsallamack
"How about creating a school climate where children that want to learn can learn instead of a unsafe environment where the disruptive and/or prone to violence rule?"

That is what a positive school climate is - one that does not perpetuate disruptive behavior and allows every child the chance to learn and grow.

The only difference we have - if I read btw the lines - is how we get there. Im less in favor of reactive punishment and more in favor of proactive development of a positive school climate.

Posted by: arlington101 | August 28, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The only difference we have - if I read btw the lines - is how we get there. Im less in favor of reactive punishment and more in favor of proactive development of a positive school climate.

Posted by: arlington101
.........................
Can we stop this pretense.

I do not see massive numbers of child psychologists descending upon the Title 1 poverty public schools to deal with the problem.

All I see is the usual where the teachers are supposed to simply use class room management to deal with the disruptive and prone to violence in class rooms with normal children.

Yes when there are infectious patients in hospitals simply place them in wards with patients that are not infected.

The reality is that any children disruptive and/or prone to violence in a middle class public school would be out of a class of normal children in the blink of an eye.

Any head of a school system of a middle class public school that claimed that class room management was the answer would be quickly out of a job.

The truth is that the children of the poor are seen as inferior and so should expect inferior schools where the disruptive and/or prone to violence are totally tolerated and accepted in classes with normal children.

Normal poor children should expect no better since all the poor children are inferior.

How else explain middle class Americans who would never accept the inferior Title 1 poverty public schools normal American children that were not poor?

Posted by: bsallamack | August 28, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"How about creating a school climate where children that want to learn can learn instead of a unsafe environment where the disruptive and/or prone to violence rule?"

That is what a positive school climate is - one that does not perpetuate disruptive behavior and allows every child the chance to learn and grow.
Posted by: arlington101
.............................
I saw no mention of a positive school climate by the Secretary of Education, Ms. Rhee, or the President.

What wonderful new local or Federal programs are now in effect, or even proposed, to deal with this large problem in the Title 1 poverty public schools?

The answer is none.

One tires of this charade.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 28, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Im less in favor of reactive punishment...
Posted by: arlington101
.....................
The usual. If you state that the disruptive and/or prone to violence should be removed from classes of normal children, you are proposing "reactive punishment".

Perhaps those that advocate that normal children have to be in classes with the disruptive and/or prone to violence should consider that this is simply a case of "progressive punishment" to the normal children.

This nation has lost its common sense and its common decency when it comes to the children of the poor.

Pretend as much as you like. The reality is that the normal children are being penalized by school systems that simply dump the disruptive and/or prone to violence in their classes.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 28, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

FYI From Sec Duncan's speech at the Bullying Prevention Summit

"A positive school climate is foundational to start academic achievement. That is one reason why in Chicago we established school safety as a metric on our report cards for every school, just as we did with academic metrics like measuring the number of students who exceeded state standards in reading and math."

"The fact is that no school can be a great school until it is a safe school first...

Safe schools also cultivate a culture of respect and caring--and have little tolerance for disruptiveness...

...teachers are primarily engaged in helping students learn and grow—and students, empowered by feeling safe, are more likely to feel free to explore, and even fail as they learn."


But you're right that Ms Rhee rarely mentions the words 'school climate'

Posted by: arlington101 | August 28, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

"The school where I subbed this morning interrupted the lessons for 45 minutes for an assempbly for a magazine subscription program. Let's eliminate the pep rallies, standardized tests, contests, spirit days, etc., and there would be at least a little more time for teaching."

Amen

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 29, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: arlington101
.............................
Maybe I am wrong about pretense in regard to Americans.

Perhaps this is simply a problem of the misconception of Americans in regard to children.

Americans appear to view children in a bipolar fashion. Children are small versions of adults, or children are simply oblivious to the world around them.

The disruptive and/or prone to violence children, to adults are the problem children, while the reality is that to the normal children these problem children are disruptive and/or prone to violence.

Speaking of a "positive school climate" where nothing is really done about the disruptive and/or prone to violence is meaningless.

Adults speak of group dynamics and simply have no understanding of the group dynamics of young children.

Children are not oblivious to an environment where the disruptive and/or prone to violence are continuously tolerated and accepted in a class of normal children. Children are not little adults who will view this continuous toleration and acceptance as the adult cost benefit solution to the problem.

American need to stop their bipolar view of children.

Any cultural anthropologist would see group dynamics where the normal children are affected and influenced more by the toleration and acceptance of the disruptive and/or prone to violence of a teacher than the lessons taught by the teacher.

At an early age the disruptive and/or prone to violence have to be removed from classes of normal children. This has to be done to destroy the group dynamics of where these problem students actually have more influence on normal children than teachers.

It is also the best time to possibly correct the problems of these disruptive and/or prone to violence children by removing them from classes with normal children.

The problem is not the few disruptive and/or prone to violence very young children but the damage that is caused to a large number of normal children by the toleration and acceptance of these children in classes with normal children.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 29, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Didn't kindergarten used to be aimed at socializing youngsters--teaching them to play together nicely, take turns, help each other, listen to directions, etc? We also learned to get along by working out differences on the playground at recess.

Now kindergarten stresses reading and writing so students will do well on the standardized tests in the next few years. And some schools have actually hired recess directors to organize the students at recess or have banned activities like trading whatever is the current fad; the reasoning is that if students are left to their own devices, they will argue and dispute the rules. Why does it surprise us that the reach high school--and even adulthood--unable to discuss their differences and totally oblivious to each other's feelings?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 29, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It does not matter what your opinion was since you wanted from me a solution for the problem that I commented on.

See how that works.

It appears that Soguns1 is the usual faker with the question:
Well what are your suggestions?

Unfortunately with the fakers like Soguns1 when you do give them a solution they do not know what to do.

Posted by: bsallamack
-------------------------------------------
Hmmm. Labeling me a "faker." You do have some serious issues as evident by your name-calling posts. That's an issue you should address first before you throw around suggestions on bigger issues such as the problems in Title 1 public poverty schools.
Seriously.

Posted by: Soguns1 | August 30, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Soguns1
........................
Yes SOGUNS1 I have a problem with the fakers who always ask "Well what would you do?" and then ignore the response.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 30, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I couldn’t agree more with Slade that social and emotional learning is imperative to students' cognitive development and should be a core component of every school’s curriculum. At Partnership with Children, a social services agency whose mission is to improve the social and emotional skills of at-risk students, we see first-hand the positive results of SEL: students do better in school when they are happy and confident, are empathetic and respectful of their peers, and have positive relationships and interactions with teachers. More than just a preventative measure against serious social issues like bullying, social and emotional learning ensures all students can reach their full academic and personal potential.

Michelle Sidrane, Executive Director
Partnership with Children

Posted by: PartnershipwithChildren | August 31, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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