The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week)

By Evie Blad — July 11, 2014 1 min read
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Happy Friday, Rules readers. Everyone is talking about LeBron James today. Even edu-interested former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is taking a break from talking about the Common Core State Standards to talk about LeBron James.

I like a good bandwagon as much as the next person, so I’ll talk about him, too. LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’ll share some great things I’ve read this week about student well-being and school climate. This week, we learn about how movement affects learning, the lack of accountability for mandatory reporters of child abuse, student engagement, and more.

Let’s get physical ...

Treating mind and body as separate is an old and powerful idea in Western culture. But this venerable trope is facing down a challenge from a generation of researchers—in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, even philosophy—who claim that we think with and through our bodies. Even the most abstract mathematical or literary concepts, these researchers maintain, are understood in terms of the experience of our senses and of moving ourselves through space.
This perspective, known as 'embodied cognition,' is now becoming a lens through which to look at educational technology. Work in the field shows promising signs that incorporating bodily movements—even subtle ones—can improve the learning that's done on computers." —Slate covers new research about the role of movement in learning. Maybe we shouldn't reprimand kids for being a bit squirmy.

Students author their own engagement ...

The trust these students placed in me was incredibly touching. Knowing little about me, having only met me a few weeks before, they clung desperately to the hope that I would indeed be the one to finally let them be heard. The mere fact that I was allowing them a space to speak and write about what mattered to them was enough for them to open up and entrust me with their deepest thoughts. Their trust left me humbled, honored, and inspired to help them succeed." —Jyothi Bathina shares in ASCD's Educational Leadership about her experience engaging disillusioned students by teaching them to write personal narrative stories.

Accountability lacking ...

Mandatory reporters, like the school's then-principal, Patricia Dierberger, and assistant principal, James McMurphy, are required by law to report suspected child abuse. Failing to do so can result in criminal charges and up to six months in jail. But Dierberger and McMurphy will likely never face that charge or punishment for their alleged inaction. In fact, few mandatory reporters—such as teachers, nurses, coaches and clergy members—ever face punishment for failing to report suspected child abuse, a Denver Post review has found. And the punishment for failing to report can be as little as $50." —After a case of sexual abuse by an educator, the Denver Post found that many mandatory reporters who fail to report child sexual abuse rarely face consequences.

Don’t tell me what to do ...

When children spend more time in structured activities, they get worse at working toward goals, making decisions, and regulating their behavior, according to a new study. Instead, kids might learn more when they have the responsibility to decide for themselves what they're going to do with their time." —Teaching Now covers research about structured activities and the development of decision-making skills.

Photo: Miami Heat’s LeBron James drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginobili, left, and Tim Duncan and during Game 4 of the NBA finals on June 12 in Miami. -- Wilfredo Lee/AP

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