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Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners

By Lauren on April 15, 2009

From 1996 to 2006, the number of English language learners in our nation’s schools jumped 60%. This is the fastest growing group of students in the country – and it’s a sad fact that they’re falling behind.

It’s not just about literacy. When school teams assess their climates for learning, it’s common for them to see that English language learners consistently rate the climate lower than native speakers, particularly across safety, interpersonal relationships and the environment.

So how can we best meet the needs of our learners?  Limited resources and guidance are formidable adversaries but there’s no question that all our kids deserve a quality education and it’s our responsibility (and passion) to make sure they get it.

Here are some easy things you can do now:

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CSEE’s 12th Annual Summer Institute

By Lauren on March 31, 2009

Each year, CSEE hosts a three-day event in New York City to promote awareness and strategies for school climate improvement. This year's 12th annual event at Fordham University will have a dual focus: promoting effective school climate reform efforts in general and effective bully prevention/pro-upstander behavior in particular. 

NEW YORK CITY—July 7 - 9, 2009 at
Fordham University
155 West 60th Street, New York City 10023

School teams and individuals will come away with:

  • Steps to improve school climate in ways that promote academic achievement, student and parent engagement and effective risk prevention & health promotion efforts
  • Specific efforts that reduce bullying and promote upstander behavior
  • Strategies & activities that develop students’ core social, emotional, civic & intellectual competencies
  • Connections with local and national leaders on the latest research, practice and policy
  • Action plans that build on school strengths, needs and goals

Speakers and workshop leaders include Jonathan Cohen (Co-founder and President of CSEE), Maurice Elias (Rutgers), Bill Eyman (SEBL), Merle Schwartz (Character Education Partnership) and more.

Click here to view more details and download the brochure

Hit play to watch a video from last year's attendees:

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Schools in Action: Greece Central School District

By Lauren on February 20, 2009

Greece Greece Unified School District is the 8th largest district in New York—it’s a huge, expansive suburban unit of 13+ elementary, middle and high schools filled with students from government-subsidized housing to homes worth several hundred thousand dollars. In spite of its challenging size and diversity, the district is doing very effective and far-reaching work to support and promote positive school climates. A major trailblazer of the district’s initiatives is Conor Cusack. Conor coordinates the Greece Community Asset initiative, a project that promotes positive youth development through social and civic learning.

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Caring Classrooms Toolkit

By Lauren on January 22, 2009

kidsAs a result of working with educators across the country, we at CSEE have amassed some really great classroom resources. To share the goods, we created a free Caring Classrooms toolkit containing the experiential activities and practical guidelines that are being touted by school leaders as effective tools for making the classroom a more caring and open place. Our hope is that you'll also be able to use the resources within the kit to speak to important dimensions of school climate such as social and civic learning, physical safety and respect for diversity. At the end of the toolkit are also some of my favorite resources for school climate improvement, diversity and bullying, funding support and social emotional learning. Click here to download the toolkit. I'd also love to hear about your own favorite classroom rituals or experiential activities. How do you go about developing your own activities to create awareness about classroom dynamics? What outside resources, such as TeacherTube or Edutopia, do you use for inspiration?

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The Challenge of Assessing School Climate

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 01, 2008

This month, ASCD's Educational Leadership focused two pieces on the importance of school climate measurement. Below is an excerpt from a piece I wrote along with Terry Pickeral (ECS) and Molly McCloskey (ASCD) that's now available for you to read for free online. Think about how you feel right now as you read these words. Are you distracted? Worried? Sad? To the extent that this is the case, these feelings would naturally affect your ability to concentrate, reflect, and make judgments about what you're reading. And you're an adult with well-developed coping and concentration strategies! Common sense tells us that students who feel safe, connected, and engaged in school are more likely to learn well. In the last 30 years, a growing body of research has confirmed the importance of the learning climate for children and adolescents. Compelling empirical research shows that a positive and sustained school climate promotes students' academic achievement and healthy development. Not surprisingly, a positive school climate also promotes teacher retention, which itself enhances student success (Center for Social and Emotional Education, 2007; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli, & Pickeral, in press; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). . .

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