The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week): Hooray for Art Edition

By Evie Blad — December 05, 2014 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers!

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our new commentary package on arts education. The package is packed with original illustrations by Education Week’s contributing artists, opinion pieces, and a video about building engagement through an artist-in-residence program.

How should schools work to engage creative students in and out of arts classes? And how can they nurture creativity in all students while they also seek to ramp up rigor in subjects like math and science?

After you read that, check out these links for folks who care about school climate and student well-being. This week, we read about discussing race in the classroom, students who may be overlooked in anti-bullying efforts, how teaching style affects student disruption, and more.

On discussing race in the classroom...

So, even though these conversations sometimes make me nervous, I try to signal to my students that it's OK to talk about race and racism in our classroom. It means that I end up facing some really difficult and important questions from my students -- questions like, 'Are White people afraid of Black people?' and 'Why is it mostly White people in the suburbs?' It also means that we can begin to articulate the ways that racism impacts us and start to look for ways to address it. Students share stories of teachers who have misunderstood them, of police officers who have made painful assumptions about them, of media messages that malign them." —In the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a teacher explains how and why she discusses race with her students.

From Mike Brown to Eric Garner...

Back in August, Marcia Chatelain, a history professor at Georgetown University, started the still-active #FergusonSyllabus hashtag on Twitter to encourage teachers and community members to share resources for talking about Ferguson in schools." —Teaching Now recently posted resources for discussing Ferguson in the classroom, which could also provide context for protests following a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer following the death of New York man Eric Garner.

On disruptive students...

In Chicago, my job as a paraprofessional required me to track, support, and monitor the same cohort of 30 freshman students throughout an entire year. I was often required to sit with the same students in different classrooms throughout a school day. To my surprise, I realized that some of the same students who were chronically disruptive in one classroom, were completely quiet, attentive, and engaged in other classrooms. The difference in behavior was astonishing. The only divergent variable between an engaged student and disruptive student seemed to be the teacher and the teaching style employed." —The Startup Blog talks about how teaching style affects student disruption. It's a subject I touched on in my story about ending suspensions for willful defiance.

On resisting the pull of social media...

I am a high school senior who does not have a Facebook account. I wish I could say that my reasons are noble, that I do not find that particular online world tantalizing. But I choose not to participate because I worry that the mistakes I am bound to make during my teen years will be unnecessarily broadcast. Other people's perceptions of me could be influenced by the selective nature of what I post or tainted by some inevitable future conniption of mine with the poor fortune to end up online." —In an issue of School Administrator that focuses on internet and civility issues, a high school student shares why she doesn't have a Facebook account.

On bullying of overweight students...

Most often anti-bullying efforts target youth who are bullied because of their sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity. These are all very important issues, but weight-based bullying is also highly prevalent in the school setting and yet it rarely addressed in anti-bullying interventions." —As schools push to reduce childhood obesity through healthy eating, are they also ensuring a safe and engaging climate for overweight students? A Connecticut researcher is developing strategies to do just that.


'The teenager today wants to fit in,' Geiger said. 'They want to fit in by wearing things that make them feel safe. If there's a brand promise to Aéropostale, it's that the teenager can wear our clothes, go to school and not be teased or made fun of [for] the way they look.' " —A CEO promotes his company's clothing as a uniform teens can wear to avoid getting teased at school.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.