09/01/2014  |  Charles Sosnik Editor-in-chief

After a well-deserved summer break, educators are back to continue what, I believe, is truly a labor of love – that of teaching our children and preparing them for the rest of their lives. Each of us will strive for excellence and the best possible results for our students for the coming year and beyond. What that looks like to you depends largely on your vantage point. 

If you are a superintendent, you’ll see budgets, data management, testing and federal funds. If you are a principal, you’ll see parent meetings, teacher assessments and school operations. If you are a teacher, you’ll see lesson plans and student engagement strategies. Yet even from our individual vantage points, there are many things we see in common as we work for the good of our students.

The need for safe, secure schools is something we all see. After so many tragic school shootings, each of us should be committed to making our schools even safer. The good news is that the training and technology exists to make every school more secure. All we need is the will to do so. In this issue, Brad Spicer begins a two-part analysis of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, including lessons learned. You’ll also find guidance for acting in an active-shooter situation, learn how to create a school environment of security, and get tips for handling the technology that you need.

Sometimes, before we can enter a discussion, we first need to define our terms. Any discussion on Social and Emotional Learning requires such an exercise. Most school administrators agree on the need for some type of social/behavioral learning to make academic learning more productive. There is much less agreement, however, on the approach. Currently, there are three major brands, or schools of thought. In an effort to define our terms, authors David B. Wangaard, Maurice J. Elias and Kristie Fink explain the differences and commonalities of Character Education, Social-Emotional Learning and The Whole Child Initiative. The authors identify nine shared objectives, and tell us that we can be confident in the research that supports all three approaches.

Research is beginning to emerge supporting the need for increased Global Education as well. According to Jennifer Vollmann, Executive Director of New
Global Citizens, it’s an economic imperative. Our world is interconnected economically. Corporations know this, as does the U S government. Unfortunately, our schools have been slow in integrating the skills, knowledge, and experience students need to be successful in this new global environment. It’s not so much about competing globally. The successful citizens of the future will understand how to collaborate. Global Education should not be treated as a single subject; it is a framework of learning that encompasses curricula and connects content to global issues.

Success in our global economy will require the cultivation of our brightest and best, our gifted students. In her article The Gifted Mind: Unlocking the Potential, Sylvia Cadena Smith explains how the human mind thinks. She explores ways you can unlock the potential of these gifted minds. There has always been a danger of ignoring our brightest students. The temptation is to leave them alone, particularly when they seem to be doing fine. The simple truth is that a little effort can go a long way. Rather than leaving well enough alone, we should be expending considerable energy on these gifted students. Our futures (and theirs) may depend on it.

And speaking of futures, you’ll definitely want to read our Winter mid year edition. We’ll take a predictive look at the Future of Education Technology, with articles by noted futurist David Houle and others. A lot of our decisions today are based on where we think technology is going in our schools. This promises to be a must-read issue, impacting the decisions we make for years. If you would like to participate, feel free to give me a ring at 704-568-7804 or email me at [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

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