Motivation, Safety, and Community
As educators and administrators in today's schools, our job is about more than lessons, homework, and grades. Some young people struggle with serious or crisis issues, including:
- Bullying (vicious teasing, cliques, online/cyber bullying, etc.)
- Body image (beauty ideals, anorexia, obesity, etc.
- Addiction (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, pharming, addictive behaviors, etc.)
- Mental health (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.)
- Abuse (physical, mental, sexual, etc.)
- Sex (harassment, underage sex, promiscuity, "hooking up", "friends with benefits", sexual identity, etc.)
- School violence
These issues can interfere with students' readiness and ability to learn. But beyond the academic impact, we have a professional and moral duty to help our students as people. Our help is particularly vital when young people are confused, at risk, or seriously hurt. Our efforts and our choices can be part of the solution. The more we know, the more we can help.
This course is designed to help us better understand these issues and what we can do to help our students. For most of these issues, there aren't simple answers or strategies. Instead, this course will include extensive surveys and self-diagnostics (including clicker-based classroom surveys). These activities will help us reflect on our individual perspectives, beliefs, and habits. They will also help us reflect on the unique experiences and strengths we can draw on to help students.
When appropriate, we'll use facts, expert advice, and guest speakers to help (re)construct our approach to these issues.
Teachers from all grades and disciplines should find this course provocative and useful.
This course has two central themes:
Nurturing a learning community. Such a community includes a connected, caring, collaborative, educative climate. Climate is a critical factor in many serious/crisis issues.
Being perceptive and proactive. Many serious/crisis issues can be mitigated or even minimized by proactive intervention, including early intervention and connecting students with specialists.