Taking the Student’s Pulse!

A school climate survey was conducted in March through a survey of students. 287 of our 350 students responded to the survey.  How are we doing?

Below is the table of some of the results from the survey.  The results in the columns represent the percentage of students who agree or strongly agree in one column and the percentage of students who disagree or strongly disagree in the other column.

Here’s an example of how to read the survey.  Take a look at statement #3 “Teachers Respect Students”.  89 % of students agree or strongly agree while Continue reading

The Student Survey….Here’s Your Voice:

In Mid-March, approximately 70% of the LCS students participated in an online student survey.  I haven’t posted all the results but here is what students said about certain items.   The goal of the survey was to gather student feedback on the culture of the school.  In addition, it is an opportunity to gather student feedback on the vision of the school.

Let me start with a few bottom lines for me.  I consider a school to be successful if students and faculty are engaged in learning, are eager to come to school daily, are setting and responding to high expectations and challenge, and are engaged with a variety of interests and activities.  I believe students must feel safe, supported, connected and cared about.  School should be fun.  Finally, school should help build resilience in students in overcoming obstacles and challenges.

Continue reading

Who Inspires You?

Given the unique wiring of an adolescent, how do kids make decisions about who they want to really be?  How do they learn their values?  Who influences them?  Who do they look up to who can provide guidance?

In the post below there are some links to interesting young people doing interesting things.  Who shapes you?  Who influences you?

Clearly, parents, extended family, teacher mentors, and other role models have a huge part in shaping young kids.  Having said that, I believe young people can find tremendous role models within their peer group and through their social networks.  We can find really positive role models who are teenagers who have posted their accomplishments on youtube or personal websites or blogs or through presentations at organizations like TEDxTeen.  We have alumni from LCS who are excellent potential role models, and close in age to our current students.  If kids are willing to explore these networks, there are inspiring young people out there.

Adolescence is challenging.  Knowing that there are young people out there who are working hard to figure their own paths and are willing to share their thoughts and challenges with one another through social media.  It holds really very powerful potential.

Here’s an inspiring role model!!   Recently, 14 of our students returned from the Global Issues Service Summit in Nairobi.  One of the speakers was Cassandra Lin. She’s a teenager from Rhode Island.  Talk about a role model!

Here’s a link to her presenting at a recent TED talk conference.

She’s awesome.  She was also a huge inspiration to all of our students who attended the GISS in Nairobi.

Here’s another role model!!!

Below is a great Ted Talk given by a 15 year old. Here’s the description off the web site.  She’s good fun to listen to and an inspiration to 15 year old females!

“Fifteen-year-old Tavi Gevinson had a hard time finding strong female, teenage role models — so she built a space where they could find each other. At TEDxTeen, she illustrates how the conversations on sites like Rookie, her wildly popular web magazine for and by teen girls, are putting a new, unapologetically uncertain and richly complex face on modern feminism. (Filmed atTEDxTeen.)”   

Here’s her Ted Talk at TEDxTeen

 

Here is another interesting individual.  I heard him speak at a conference a few years ago.  It is worth hearing the story of

Ryan Hreljac of Ryan’s Well.

 

One reason I am interested in this topic is that our teens are challenged daily.  Take the entertainment industry for example.  Chris Brown, the music artist, recently performed a concert in Ghana.  We had many students flock to the concert.  It’s not often that a big name in the entertainment industry holds a concert in Accra, Ghana.  I can see the lure.  Having said that, Chris Brown is known as a convicted felon, a history of violence and drug use, someone who physically assaulted his girlfriend and yet he is a celebrity who draws a huge crowd.  How can this be?  What type of role model is this man to our students.   Why expose our kids to this individual?  How come our students were so eager to see this concert?

I think our kids need powerful role models.  They must have powerful role models if, in fact, they are lured to concerts and entertainment like a Chris Brown.

We are talking about values and mindful behaviors.  We are talking about smart choices and principled actions.

Learning principled actions, treating others with respect, honoring respectful and caring behaviors is essential during formative years of adolescence. Positive role models support such learning. Finding them through sports, entertainment, one’s family, at school, or through other resources is the challenge.  There are many positive role models out there. Helping guide kids towards those role models is a collective responsibility.

 

Kids Taking Action Against Bullying

Why do some students treat schoolmates so poorly?  I’ve been fortunate to work with student populations where the norm is not to be mean. Having said that, I’ve seen my share of students being mean to one another over my 30+ years in schools.  In a school like LCS, that contains Grades 6 thru 12, you see the range of such behaviors.  As kids mature bullying and mean behaviors and actions recede, but the social and peer pressure that early adolescents experience can result in a variety of cruel behaviors.  It can be very disheartening.

I was, however, struck by the organization that I discovered below.   It is an organization established by teens, for teens, and contains testimonials and videos of teenagers who have something to say about bullying and hate crimes.  I was inspired by this site.  As adults we try hard to intervene and deal with issues when they arise.  The power of this site is the power for kids to take a stand together and to know that they are NOT alone in dealing with the tough issues around social pressures and bullying.  It is worth looking through this link and checking out the voices of teenagers around this topic.

Here is the link to the We Stop Hate web site

 

In addition, there was a recent CNN report that had some truly excellent links around the topic.  Check out this link to the CNN site.

CNN Special Report on Bullying 

 

This is an important topic and students need to utilize their resources both online, at home, and at school.

Here is another interesting site for students around the topic of bullying.  Check out

Another blog posting on bullying and the media

Parents Building Community at LCS

On Wednesday, Feb 20, over 30 Grade 6 parents (approximately half of our Grade 6 population) attended an evening parent gathering hosted in a private home.  The purpose of the evening was to get together to talk about social media and the challenges of parents and educators.  Facebook usage dominated the conversation as did the topic of challenges associated with extensive online interest, involvement, and obsession!!  Kids are plugged in.  It’s a challenge for parents to make decisions around family rules and expectations.  Every parent handles things differently.  Over the years I have found it incredibly valuable to communicate with as many parents as I can to help shape my decisions as a parent and as a school leader.  Schools have a responsibility to support, educate, and provide information to both students and parents around this important topic.  This evening meeting was a great example of parents collectively tackling the challenges of parenting.

I was very impressed with the turnout of parents.  The community is naturally very

Grade 6 Parents Gather for a Lively Discussion and a Meal on Feb 20 2013

interested in this topic. I would urge parents to rally around one another, exchange ideas, tips, and suggestions.  It is not easy to parent in the digital age.  We all share the same concerns, hopes, and fears as parents.  Moreover, we are all  in uncharted territory when it comes to technology and share similar questions.

Below is a link to the presentation.  Feel free to view it.  In addition, I’ve added  a link to an excellent Ted Talk that is worth listening to. It’s about our  “plugged in” world we have become!

This is the presentation to Grade 6 parents.  This is the powerpoint presentation.

This is the same presentation to Grade 6 parents as a movie. It’s a larger file for downloading (28 mb) but plays fine.

With Kids Away, Do Teachers Play?

Last Monday, students didn’t come to school, but teachers did!  What were we doing at school on Monday?  What happens on those “Professional Development” days?  What happens at those weekly meetings that teachers have every Wednesday afternoon?

The answer is alot of learning, planning, reflecting, dialogue and professional growth.    Check out the link below (in blue) to a short collection of images:

SS Faculty: An Inquiring Bunch!

 

We are a learning organization.  On days like Monday or on weekly Wednesday afternoons, faculty spend time preparing classes, lessons, unit plans, assessments, and engaging activities.

LCS faculty are professionals, interested in their own personal learning and professional growth and, most importantly, improving the experience for students. This is the mission we, as faculty, are on.  We strive to ensure that students have  high quality learning experiences at LCS.  I salute the LCS faculty for their commitment and effort.  Faculty are working hard on behalf of students and families.

 

 

 

LCS Alumni – Role Models for Current Students!

In a recent professional development morning with faculty, we watched a presentation given by Mr Lance King (www.taolearning.org)  Mr King talked at length about developing students as self-regulated learners.  His focus upon students as self-directed lifelong learners touched on many areas.  One in particular struck a chord.  In order for students to become confident in their abilities moving forward, it’s helpful to have strong role models that they can relate to.  It’s great to hold up people like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa as role models but these exceptional people are, just that, exceptional. They are not particularly accessible to our students.  Mr King talked about the valuable role alumni could have as role models for current students.  Identifying alumni as role models and celebrating the successes of alumni could be valuable in helping current students understand options, develop confidence, and instill a sense of self-efficacy moving forward.

I was recently in London recruiting new teachers.  While in London I had the

an impressive collection of LCS alumni in London, Jan 2013

pleasure of attending the first international LCS alumni reunion, organized by Khushboo Moolchandani (class of 2005) and Stan Osei-Bonsu (Class of 2005)   Here is a list of some of the impressive young alumni who attended.

  • Fritz Riha  – class of 2005, spent a couple of years at Lincoln, currently works at Barclays as a Digital Designer in their Customer Experience team)Guendalina Gianfranchi- class of 2005, left LCS in grade 6, currently studying in the UK for her masters.
  • Nathalie Wilson-  class of 2005, left LCS in grade 6 as well, studied and works in the UK as an Online Marketer
  • Gun Ming Chung- class of 2007, he is a lawyer Continue reading

Creativity, Action, and Service….Why CAS?

When I was a high school kid…..(hang in there, I won’t bore you with my HS history!)  But, when I was a high school student I was pretty much focused upon sports and (in my last 18 months some drama).  As well I was pretty responsible

Is your passion sports?

with the academic game.  I thought I was well balanced because I did a couple of sports and I did a couple of plays in high school.  Later in life, as a 21 year old, I learned to play the guitar, something I always wanted to do.  As a 40 year old I started singing in an acapella vocal group.  In my 40’s I finally  began satisfying a long-standing interest in service projects.   I didn’t have the opportunity as a teenager, during formative years, to fully explore and develop my interests in music and service.  It wasn’t part of my school experience.  I don’t know how a CAS requrirement would have impacted me.  I’m not sure.  I know it would have forced me to consider ideas and activities that I never came close to exploring as a high school student.  As a parent, I appreciated the CAS requirement for my kids given that it required various experiences.  For some students CAS experiences have great potential to truly shape values, ideas, and lives.CAS is part of being an IB student.  It is a requirement and a pillar of the program.   Why is it required?  What is the goal of the CAS requirement?  Why do educators believe CAS is vital in the educational experience of students?

Is your passion organizing service activities?

Being an educated and knowledgeable person is much more than earning grades and “doing school”.  The CAS requirement removes you from the structured expectations of the regular school day.  It places students in the world of different experiences in which students must plan, act upon, observe, and reflect on their involvement in those experiences.

CAS is often associated with service projects.  Service is an essential component, as is Action and Creativity.  You must explore opportunities and learn from experiences with sports, creative endeavors, or service activities.  Finding your interests and passions in life is part of growing and maturing.

Students are often:

  • Too caught up in accomplishments – becoming a human “doing” as opposed to a human “being”.
  • Too caught up in academic demands and the grind of regular school work.
  • Too caught up in social networks and issues and the challenges of being a teenager.
CAS activities allow you to step away from the normal academic challenges and

Is your passion art or drama?

learn through other experiences.

A foundation of the IB program is nurturing the growth of the Learner Profile in students. To support this nurturing, CAS provides opportunities.  Undertaking challenges, planning activities, exercising perseverance and commitment, reflecting upon actions, understanding strengths, are all related to the Learner Profile traits of inquirers, risk takers, communicators, caring, balanced and principled individuals.  Sincere involvement in CAS develops and strengthens the IB Learner Profile trait in each individual.

CAS is a pllar of the IB experience. It is a requirement.  But, more than a requirement, it supports the important development of a well-rounded individual.  Completing the requirement of CAS,which involves serious participation and sincere reflection, will have significant benefits to individuals as they forge their pathways in life.

 

 

 

Two Movies Dealing with Adolescent Topics

I asked a student recently to share some ideas with me about topics that might be of interest for students that I could either address or share on this blog.  The student sent me a couple of links to movie trailers focused upon adolescent audiences.

As it turns out, on my recent trip to London I watched the first movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, on the plane.  I thought it was really well done.  It is definitely targeted at high school audiences and deals with the social challenges and decisions facing teenagers.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – The award winning book is available in the library!
ABC TV Movie “Cyberbully” – I haven’t viewed this movie but I am glad to see that this important topic is getting mainstream TV network attention in the US.