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The core of education is the relationship between teacher and student and the quality of the guidance and support that a teacher provides to each student. The art of a highly skilled teacher is ensuring that minute-to-minute, day-to-day, students are in the learning zone, continually deepening their understanding, ability to learn and readiness for college and careers. Such personalized learning must occur in the context of an appreciation for the diversity of cultures and perspectives within a class. Formative assessment practices are a benchmark of quality instruction. Teachers need time and support to work collaboratively to build a common understanding of these practices and time to work collaboratively on improving their practice, including through self-reflection, peer-observation, and feedback.
Health and education are connected: what affects one affects the other. The healthy child learns better, just as the educated child leads a healthier life. Similarly, a healthier environment - physical and social-emotional - provides for more effective teaching and learning. Whole Child Education is a shift in focus from narrowly defined academic achievement to a focus on the long-term development and success of all children. The basic tenets of the approach to education are that each student: learns and practices healthy lifestyle, learns in a physically and emotionally safe environment, is challenged academically, is engaged and connected to school and the broader community, and is supported by caring adults.
At the core of inclusive schools is the belief that each student can and will learn and succeed. A belief and acknowledgement that each student has strengths and needs - and that collaboratively, school communities can succeed - is a necessary foundation for an inclusive school culture. The inclusive school environment requires a thoughtful and informed look at disciplinary practices within schools and an understanding of potential bias. Exclusionary practices related to discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, result in increased feelings of anger, resentment, distrust and isolation. Culturally responsive positive behavioral interventions and restorative practices produce a more cooperative and productive learning environment.
Students are more engaged when they see the relevance of their time in school. Students need to have time to explore their strengths and interests and career opportunities. In Oregon, it is our goal that every student will graduate with a plan. Our diploma requires a student to build an education plan and profile each year starting in 7th grade with the support of an adult. This plan should highlight a student's strengths, help the student set goals and outline a path they can take to meet those goals. Strong career exploration and guidance and clear pathways that provide career training are critical to improving graduation.
The Oregon State Library has compiled the studies presented in each of the strategy papers in a special page on their website.
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