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March 1, 2021
Vol. 78
No. 6

Whole Child Spotlight: Supporting Each Student

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      ASCD's Whole Child approach aims to ensure that each child, in each school, and in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. There is a reason why we use the word each, and not all or every. Each defines an individual. By purposefully referring to each student, we avoid the unintended consequence of ignoring some students by using an umbrella or encompassing term. Whole child education must support each child regardless of their particular needs, their situation, their background, or prior access to opportunities. The use of each makes sure that we see each child as unique in their own right.
      This is a fundamental basis for ensuring equity, since what each child needs or has access to in terms of strengths or supports is unique. When we see children as individuals with their own set of strengths, needs, and supports, we are better equipped to make equitable adjustments to help them in their growth and development. This means not making generic assumptions, addressing any inherent bias that may be present, and readjusting our perspective so that we focus on each individual child from a strengths-based focus.
      The same rationale can also be applied to schools themselves. What one school needs to support its students will be unique and different from their neighboring school. The opportunities and supports one community can provide will be different from another across town. One size rarely fits anyone.
      The Whole Child framework based on our five tenets provides a scaffold for success but deliberately allows for each school to adjust and suit their actions to address their needs.
      Sean Slade, ASCD Sr. Director, Global Outreach

      Key Whole Child Indicators on Equity

      • Our school culture supports and reinforces the health and well-being of each student (Healthy, No.1).

      • Our school addresses the health and well-being of each staff member (Healthy, No. 5).

      • Our school collaborates with parents and the local community to promote the health and well-being of each student (Healthy, No. 6).

      • Our school upholds social justice and equity concepts and practices mutual respect for individual differences at all levels of school interactions—student-to-student, adult-to-student, and adult-to-adult (Safe, No. 8).

      • Each student in our school has access to a range of options and choices for a wide array of extracurricular and cocurricular activities that reflect student interests, goals, and learning profiles (Engaged, No. 5).

      • Our school personalizes learning, including the flexible use of time and scheduling to meet academic and social goals for each student (Supported, No. 1).

      • Our school ensures that adult-student relationships support and encourage each student's academic and personal growth (Supported, No. 3).

      • Each student has access to school counselors and other structured academic, social, and emotional support systems (Supported, No. 4).

      • Each student in our school has access to challenging, comprehensive curriculum in all content areas (Challenged, No. 1).

      • Our school collects and uses qualitative and quantitative data to support student academic and personal growth (Challenged, No. 3).

      • Our curriculum, instruction, and assessment demonstrate high expectation for each student (Challenged, No. 4).

      For more on the Whole Child school indicators, visit www.ascd.org/whole-child.

       The Whole Child Network is a free network of more than 2,000 members, 350 school districts, 500 additional schools, spread across every U.S. state, and 55 countries globally.

      Sean Slade is an education leader, speaker, and author, with nearly three decades of experience in education in the U.S. and globally. He serves as Head of BTS Spark, North America, the social impact arm of BTS focusing on educational leadership development. Prior to BTS Spark, Sean was senior director of global outreach at ASCD, where he launched and grew the ASCD Whole Child Network across 56 countries and led the development of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model (WSCC) with the CDC. His latest book is The Power of the Whole: What is Lost by Focusing on Individual Things. 

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