A Lifeline for Troubled Students
School social workers deal with a wide range of social, emotional, and academic issues. Rescuing kids often means providing a safety net and, in dire cases, a lifeline.
Listening to Students
Giving students a voice in classroom decisions—such as suggesting themes and topics to study—and in school policies—such as homework regulations—makes schools less autocratic and more democratic. And democratic schools, researchers say, tend to have fewer discipline problems, more civic involvement, higher student engagement, and higher achievement. Plus, schools that genuinely seek and appreciate students’ ideas are more likely to see their school improvement plans succeed.
Rethinking Parent Conferences
The traditional one-to-one meeting is just one way to build a relationship between school and home. Economic and social realities prevent some parents from attending school conferences. Families affected by divorce, those headed by single parents, and two-parent families where both parents work long hours are less likely to attend conferences no matter what grade their child is in.
Learning Behind Bars
When kids are locked up, what happens to their education? That question has no easy answer, say researchers who've tried to pin down state laws and policies for educating juveniles in corrections. Youthful offenders who lose their freedom shouldn't lose their chance for a good education.
When Children Grieve
Schools need to reach out to grieving students, but they also need to remember that grief knows no boundaries. Sometimes it spills over to teachers and other school staff members who, like their students, need guidance to handle their own shock and suffering.
And the Winner Is ...
How much competition is too much? In today's accountability-driven world, many teachers believe competition is the best way to push kids to make their best efforts. And often principals and other supervisors agree. The trouble with classroom competition is that it brands every kid a loser except one.
Where should you draw the line between normal trepidation and genuine test anxiety? Students with true test anxiety tend to be consumed with worries, such as fear of failure, worthlessness, and dread. In turn, they experience physiological symptoms, such as sweating, dizziness, and racing heartbeats. Some have more traumatic symptoms. Some teachers ridicule the notion of test anxiety, but other teachers believe it's worth a little extra time and effort to help stressed-out kids calm down before exams.
English Spoken Here
Not just learning English, but learning English well, makes all the difference for English-language learners. It's a distinction that's increasingly important, thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act's requirement that schools show adequate yearly progress for their English-language learners, as well as their other students. These studies suggest the best ways to help non-native speakers learn English well.
Reaching the Older Reader
Many students achieve adequate reading skills in the primary grades, but their reading performance often diminishes in the later elementary grades and continues to fall in middle and high school. Some 70 percent of older students require reading remediation. It's possible to raise middle school and high school students' overall literacy. But to do so, schools must have the will and persistence to make literacy the cornerstone of learning.
Adventures in Learning
What if you could capture students' interest and increase their learning by taking them on expeditions? Not just on field trips, but in government buildings and museums and parks—as well as right in their own classrooms. That's the idea behind Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, a whole-school reform model that emphasizes high achievement through active learning, character development, and teamwork.
What Did You Learn Last Summer
For many children, summer is a time to be free from homework, books, and “teachers' dirty looks.” But today the prospect of summer freedom is short-lived for many kids. Nationwide, about 5 million K-12 students attend summer schools, some for enrichment and many others for remediation, particularly in reading and math.
Acing the Exam
Intent on getting into colleges and universities, students nationwide are flocking to online courses and test-prep centers marketed by Princeton Review, Sylvan, Peterson's, Kaplan, and other companies. Course content varies, but most focus on test-taking strategies and skills related to writing and grammar, critical reading, and advanced algebra. Test prep is a booming industry, but is it the right way to prepare kids for college admissions exams? Maybe, maybe not.