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The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week)

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Happy Friday, Rules readers. I've spent the past two days at the American Psychological Association convention, where I've heard about lots of great research about how children's brains work, what motivates them, and how to make them feel safe and engaged in school. I've also spent plenty of time asking really smart people to explain things to me "like you would explain it to your mother" (and hoping their mothers don't have doctorates in psychology).

In nonschool links, you should check out this about a former foster child who grew up to be a photographer and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his work documenting food-stamp recipients. In that vein, you should also check out this post from our Full Frame blog about photographer Melissa Lyttle's work to document summer hunger for my War on Poverty story on school nutrition programs.

But now let's get to those links for folks who care about school climate and child well-being. This week, we read about how health affects learning, the importance of play in brain development, a counterintuitive approach to helping at-risk students, and more.

On health...

"If education is their ticket to a better future and the key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty, then we need to ensure that these children are healthy and ready to learn. No matter how substantial our social investments in curricula, class-size reduction, teacher training, and other strategies for the transformation of K-12 education, we are not going to be able to close the achievement gap until we deal with the factor of health in the equation of school success."
Irwin Redlener, the president and co-founder of the Children's Health Fund, in commentary about how poor health can create a barrier to learning.

'You don't know us...'

"We are the kids who find crates so we can shoot hoops. When the sun shines here, it's not God saying he wants to burn us; he sees us all with bright futures. Those who know us look at the ones who want to go to college, not the ones who dropped out of school."
—A group of 5th grade students writes in the Chicago Tribune about how they want people to see their neighborhood, which is known for violence.

Getting to know you...

"What do you need from me the most?"
—From TeachThought, 26 questions teachers should ask students on the first day of school

It pays to play...

"The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain."
—NPR did a series on play this week, including this story on how free play helps brain development in children.

The need to lead...

"It was clear that something special was occurring. The same students who wouldn't show up for counseling or, if they did, would simply shut down, were now emphatically engaged."
—Jason Towne writes a commentary in Education Week about helping at-risk students by offering them a chance to be leaders.

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