- While many schools are embracing approaches to whole child education, not all educators agree with what the term means, EdSurge reports.
- As part of a project conducted by EdSurge Research over the past school year, researchers discovered that educators had differing definitions of “whole child education.” Half of the respondents said the term means “all types of learning and development,” 22% chose “personalized learning,” 17% chose “providing emotional support and/or creating safe and nurturing learning environments,” and 9% said it means “strengthening communities and building relationships.”
- This variation in understanding impacts teachers' practices in the classroom, the article says. The way educators define the term influences how they view their roles and responsibilities, how they manage their class time, and the kind of support they need from administrators and school communities.
Because educators tend to use jargon, it's important for school leaders to make sure that educational terms are defined clearly and consistently within the school community if teachers are expected to implement whole child initiatives successfully and with the support and understanding of parents.
Professional development can also be a way to get teachers on the same page about educational issues and policies. Open discussion between teachers and school leaders can lend to the development of clear protocols for implementation, and elicit interest in the concepts from teachers when they feel that their voices are being heard.
School leaders and teachers also need to include parents as partners when implementing new ideas or when changing policies. Clearly communicating ideas in layman's terms, defining those terms consistently, and inviting questions can help educate parents and get them on board with the direction the school is taking. Whether it is through town hall-style meetings, parent-teacher organization meetings or one-on-one conversations, face-to-face interaction is often the best way to communicate new information and allow for questions.
Schools can also record these meetings, or even use Facebook live and other streaming options for parents who cannot attend. Providing written documents as a follow-up and giving parents and other partners a way to provide ongoing feedback can also encourage buy-in.