Promising Practices Newsletter_April 2018

FEATURED PRACTICE Listening Circles A Promising Practice from Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, MO. Concerned that the rising level of intolerance and incivility in throughout the nation was having a negative effect on students at Ladue Middle School. Counselor Janey Worthington, joined by the administration, faculty and staff launched Listening Circles to create a constructive forum in which students could address how racism, intolerance and discord. “Listening circles were initiated to give students safe places to discuss differences of opinion and to restore a community that has always sought to celebrate – rather than denigrate – our diversity. Our circles begin with the establishment of norms – all voices will be heard in a respectful manner – and proceed with sharing thoughts and concerns about incidents of racism or incivility. While differences of political opinion are understood as part of the democratic process, the listening circle reinforces the importance of expressing those differences respectfully, and moving toward a sense of shared community.” The Listening circles are one way the Ladue Middle School community is working to reduce the tensions and mistrust that spread through much of region — Ladue is less than five miles from Ferguson. The great divisions of wealth and poverty throughout St. Louis are evident in the school’s corridors, As Janey explained in the Promising Practice narrative, “students at Ladue Middle School face daily one of the greatest challenges of our pluralistic, democratic society: how to …
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Promising Practices Newsletter_April 2018

Tracey Crouch may not be a household name in the United States, but her role as Britain’s first Minister of Loneliness embodies many of the aspirations we hold for our students’ character growth. Ms. Crouch was appointed to lead the work of a government-wide group with responsibility for developing policies that will reduce loneliness and promote inclusion in education, commerce, government and sports. Loneliness has grown into an epidemic in the United Kingdom; nearly 10 million people report always or often feeling lonely. And the problem is not limited to Great Britain; last year, the AARP surveyed Americans over the age of 45 and found that more than 42 million of the participants had experienced chronic loneliness and isolation. Unaddressed, this epidemic will continue to inflict harm on ever younger generations. As teachers and parents, we know that the root of adult isolation and fear of social engagement begins when children enter school, interact on the playground and participate in community-based sports and recreation activities. What often distinguishes the children and adolescents who are most often severely impacted by loneliness and isolation? Many are children already coping with social, emotional, cognitive and physical challenges. All of which brings me to one of my favorite topics: Promising Practices. If there is a common theme to the initiatives and instructional activities that are recognized as Promising Practices, it is that all of them place the student at the center. Whether it is …
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2018 State Schools of Character

Character.org Certifies 63 State Schools and 5 Districts of Character Each year, Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development which has a true positive impact on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate. Schools and districts announced today will be considered for our highest distinction-National School of Character.

Promising Practices Newsletter_Dec_2017

FEATURED PRACTICE Annual Digital Literacy and Citizenship Night The West Milford School District hosted its First Annual Digital Literacy and Citizenship Night. The event was set up so that half the attendees would attend a dinner discussion, while the other half selected from multiple breakout sessions covering a multitude of topics. The attendees then swapped places, allowing us to serve well over 400 attendees made up of parents and children from the community. The dinner session was designed to allow parents and their children to react in a dinner like setting, to communicate about topics such as social media, cyber-bullying, and digital footprints, all guided by our director of education. The desire was to foster the experience that can then be taken home a repeated, by those families. During the dinners, our director gave a speech on digital citizenship and the impact of digital footprints. The event included presentations and resources. Families also engaged in hands-on activities that helped sediment that foundation of understanding with regard to those topics. While the dinner was running, breakout sessions for the second half of the attendees provided dialogue from faculty to the community members on our district’s existing use of Common Sense Media, Digital Citizenship, and Google Apps for Education. Question and answer sessions were made available to parents to discuss concerns about privacy, student impact, and resources. A second session allowed the two attending parties to swap places and then was followed by a third session which took place in our auditorium. …
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