Title

Connection as a Catalyst for Change

Location

Seguin

Focused Area

Improving School Climate for Youth-At-Risk

Relevance to Focused Area

This session highlights the work of the presenters over the past three years as they supported the transformation of school climate in three diverse public schools. Each of these schools works directly with students placed at-risk and the resulting climate in these schools has been the basis for additional work in the district.

Primary Strand

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance to Primary Strand

The focus in secondary schools has long been seen as academic achievement over social and emotional well-being of the students. The presenters will highlight the need for healthy connections between adults and students which directly impact the social and emotional wellness of the community. This session will highlight the need to focus on the whole student and the whole school community when transforming school climate.

Brief Program Description

Do you look at your students and wonder why they aren't making academic gains? Do you wonder why students aren't attending school and staff have given up? The presenters worked with three diverse secondary schools to rewrite the playbook for student and staff connectedness. The resulting climate of these buildings have shown staff and students that everyone benefits when the entire community works together.

Summary

There is no rule book for educating youth placed at-risk. In many cases the rules governing schools supporting youth placed at-risk have woefully missed the opportunities needed to re-engage youth with school. Furthermore working within a shifting educational landscape can be unsettling and choices must be made; help to write the new rules to the game or wait until someone else writes them.

We decided to rewrite the rules. Through a collaboration with Title I, Secondary Education and Alternative Schools we started to redefine education for our students placed at-risk by starting with the heart. Through this multi-year process we have seen attendance and family connection to the school increase. We have seen staff who are happier in their work and are better able to support their students. Most recently we have seen the need for more focused attention to positive climate and the desire to work within a growth mindset model to increase support for our students and community.

In this session you will learn:

  • how positive climate directly relates to student achievement.

  • how increase teacher confidence increases connectedness to their environment.

  • how being connected to colleagues and work place directly impact attention and connectedness with students.

  • how to increase positive climate of a school by putting the heart first.

While deciding whether to rewrite the rules for youth placed at-risk one of the primary considerations is the payoff for students, staff and community. The decision to play the game hinges on the ability to focus energy on collaboration and this takes time. There will be setbacks requiring reflection and thoughtful problem solving to navigate. Finally, it will require all stakeholders to be actively engaged in the process. The resulting climate of the building is the ultimate indicator it was worth it.

Evidence

The vast library of research surrounding learning and the brain supports the need to promote school success by focusing on positive, resilient minds. This includes starting with the heart by teaching students empathy and self-worth (Borba, M., 2017). The schools highlighted in this presentation used relationship building and whole student well-being as the basis for the work (Hoerr, T.R., 2016). By focusing on the cultural, emotional and academic needs for whole student and the school community they were able to increase positive school climate (Kryza, K.M., 2015).

Borba, M. (2017). Unselfie: why empathetic kids succeed in our all -about-me world.

Hoerr, T.R. (2016). The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs.

Kryza, K.M. (2015). Transforming Teaching.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Jessica Graziano is a veteran teacher with nearly two decades of experience supporting both affluent and economically disadvantaged students and schools. As a child she attended both Chapter I (now Title I) and private schools. She has made it her life work to promote equity for all students. Her recent work as a Title I Instructional Coach has put her at the center of the struggle for great schools for all students and communities. She continues to follow her true passion of supporting the growth of school community by increasing capacity of school staff to continuously strive for school improvement through research based practices. When she isn't working she spends her time with her family outdoors in the beautiful state of Alaska.

Andranel Brown is the youngest of six children and the only one of her siblings to graduate from high school. This experience lead her to develop a passion for helping students succeed. She has worked exclusively in Title I schools in one of the most culturally diverse districts in the nation. Part of this work has been as an Instructional Coach, supporting both teachers and administrators to hone their craft and work toward school-wide improvement from many angles. When she isn’t reading young adult dystopic novels, she can be found crocheting or gawking at wildflowers.

Start Date

10-27-2017 8:15 AM

End Date

10-27-2017 9:30 AM

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Oct 27th, 8:15 AM Oct 27th, 9:30 AM

Connection as a Catalyst for Change

Seguin

Do you look at your students and wonder why they aren't making academic gains? Do you wonder why students aren't attending school and staff have given up? The presenters worked with three diverse secondary schools to rewrite the playbook for student and staff connectedness. The resulting climate of these buildings have shown staff and students that everyone benefits when the entire community works together.