Understanding Each Child, Our Future: Student Supports and School Climate and Culture (Strategy 7)

2/4/2019

Each Child, Our Future is Ohio’s five-year strategic plan to ensure each student enjoys a bright future thanks to an excellent preK-12 education experience. More than 150 Ohio-based partners helped develop Each Child, Our Future, along with feedback from 1,200 Ohio parents, caregivers, preK-12 and postsecondary educators, employers, business leaders, community members, state legislators and students.

This is the ninth in an 11-part series that walks EdConnection readers through the plan. Last week, we covered strategies 4-6 that describe a new direction for standards, assessments and accountability based on the four equal learning domains. These make up one of five key elements of a high-quality education. This week, we take a close look at strategy 7, which deals with student supports and school climate and culture. Find it on pages 19 and 20 of the plan, which appears in its entirety here.

Strategy 7: Work together with parents, caregivers and community partners to help schools meet the needs of the whole child.

  • Each child’s basic needs for safety, social belonging, self-esteem, self-actualization and other social and personal assets must be met to enable deeper learning. Unless the “whole child” is considered and supported, a child’s conditions for learning are less than optimal.
  • To build the capacity of Ohio’s education system to meet the needs of each child, strategy 7 calls for schools and educators to consider a whole-child model for meeting a child’s needs.
  • As part of the whole-child model, Ohio envisions a day when each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle; each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe; each student is engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community; each student has access to personalized learning and other necessary resources and is supported by qualified, caring and committed adults; and each student is challenged academically and prepared for success.
  • Across the state, there are examples of health care providers, behavioral health providers, after-school program operators, libraries, businesses, philanthropy and other local government and community organizations collaborating to meet students’ needs. Capitalizing on this momentum, the state is providing guidance to communities to further expand these initiatives. Ohio already has released a School-Based Health Care Support Toolkit to back the expansion of school-based health care activities around the state.

Strategy 7 also contains two other initiatives:

  • Providing training and raising awareness: Parents and caregivers may need supports to identify and address their children’s needs. Caring, committed adults who work with students, particularly educators, should be trained to educate children using the whole-child approach. Ohio and its education stakeholders can identify, curate and share resources aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of how to identify and address student needs. The state also could provide aligned technical assistance, particularly when it comes to fostering social-emotional learning and promoting trauma-informed practices. Training and development must emphasize the importance of cultural competency and culturally sensitive approaches that have the greatest impact on students.
  • Identifying, disseminating and supporting effective school practices: Creating the culture and conditions that recognize the whole child means each child feels supported by caring, committed adults and empathetic peers. Every school community must establish norms and expectations for behaviors that are applied consistently and owned by students and staff, so both have the sense of belonging and share a commitment to building a safe and healthy school culture. Ohio already developed school climate guidelines and anti-harassment and bullying guidelines, including implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The State Board of Education also brought together an advisory group to develop best practices for social, emotional, mental and behavioral wellness education for students. Ohio will continue to identify and share best practices and effective techniques.
In next week’s EdConnection, we’ll unfold strategy 8, which focuses on the importance of early learning and expanding access to quality early learning experiences for Ohio children who need them most.