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The Absolute Best School Climate Blogging (This Week): You Do the Math Edition

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Happy Friday, Rules readers. I hope you took some time this week to dig into Education Week's special report on how the Common Core State Standards have changed math instruction. Math is one of the most talked-about parts of the new standards, and (if my Facebook feed is any indication) one of the areas where parents have noticed the most change in their children's homework. 

When reporting on school climate, student-support strategies, and student engagement, I sometimes hear the critique that all of these efforts are a lot to ask of educators when many of them are also being asked to change the way they teach core content.

But building supportive and engaging environments for students and ratcheting up academic rigor are not actually competing priorities, supporters of these efforts say. Rather, any moves a school can take to build attendance, increase focus in the classroom, and help students leap over hurdles like problematic peer relationships will only increase students' ability to master challenging concepts (like new ways of solving math problems).

What do you think? How does this look in your school?

While you're pondering that, let's take a look at some good reads for folks who are interested in school climate and student well-being. This week, I share links about brain science, poverty interventions, and building cultural understanding in teachers.

How the brain works...

"The brain has hit the big time."
—This blog post from Child Trends summarizes recent panel discussions about how our growing understanding of brain science has changed programs for children and youth.

Poverty is a family challenge...

"For many American families, every day is a juggling act involving work, child care, school and conflicting schedules. But for low-income families, the balls are more likely to fall, and the consequences can be dire when they do."
—In this report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation advocates for a two-generation approach to tackling poverty.

Teaching teachers about race...

"Especially thorny is the belief that mentioning race equates to racism. Race and racism are not synonymous. Racial talk provides the space for greater understanding—fear of racial talk and silence provide the space within which myths, stereotypes and bias abound. This is destructive for students of color and fosters the miseducation of white students. Teachers' skills can be grown and cultivated, but teachers must be willing to do the work."
—The Root covers efforts to equip teachers with a better understanding of race and racial issues in the classroom.

School climate for LBGT students...

"The large number of students who reported hearing anti-LGBT language and who continue to experience verbal and physical harassment in schools in these states is unacceptable."
—GLSEN releases state-level findings from its student surveys about school climate.

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