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March 1, 2003
Vol. 60
No. 6

EL Extra / Creating Caring Schools

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Welcome to EL Extra. We have designed questions to help you and your colleagues foster meaningful discussions about the articles in the March 2003 issue of Educational Leadership.
These questions will not cover all the topics contained in this issue, but we hope that they will help you generate conversations about key ideas. Feel free to adapt the questions to be more relevant to your school or school district. Although you can consider many of the questions on your own, we encourage you to use them in pairs, small groups, or even large study groups.

Assessing Morale and Building Trust

In “Moral Teachers, Moral Students” (p. 6), Rick Weissbourd asserts that “disillusionment—especially the loss of a belief that [teachers] can make a difference in students' lives—is one of the biggest reasons that nearly one-half of teachers in the United States leave the profession within the first five years. He suggests that schools can improve two prime causes for this disillusionment: the strain of dealing with students with behavior troubles and teachers' feelings of isolation.
How are you and your colleagues affected by student misbehavior? How has it affected your teaching? Estimate the amount of instructional time you lose per day because of students' disruptive behaviors. What school and district policies or procedures help you with classroom management? If they are inadequate, brainstorm new ideas with colleagues. Weissbourd promotes mentoring programs, time for teachers to observe and reflect on one another's practice, and emotional support from colleagues in dealing with chronic stress. How beneficial would these be for your school? What else would benefit you and your colleagues?
Do your students feel safe at school? Three articles in this issue discuss the common misconceptions and harmful effects of bullying. Dan Olweus asserts that bullying is not a consequence of large class sizes or schools, competition for grades, or insecurity (“A Profile of Bullying at School,” p. 12). Doug Cooper and Jennie Snell maintain their own list of misconceptions, including “boys will be boys”; “only a small number of children are affected”; “adults are already doing all they need to do” (“Bullying—Not Just a Kid Thing,” p. 22) What are some other reasons that adults ignore bullying?
The articles offer specific advice for curbing bullying in your school. Which of the methods mentioned, including adult involvement and effective supervision, bully prevention committees and classroom meetings, staff training, parent involvement, has your school tried and what was the effect? If your school doesn't have an effective plan, develop one with colleagues.
Several articles suggest strategies for building trusting relationships with students. Read “Creating a School Community” (p. 31) by Eric Schaps. How are you and your colleagues cultivating respectful relationships with and among students? How might you integrate some of Schaps's and other authors' suggestions into your classroom?

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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Creating Caring Schools
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