...Students who experience chronic instability and stress have more aggressive responses to stress, along with poorer working memory and self-control, studies show. Building those skills in individual students can raise the tenor of the whole school.
"As much as we need to provide enriched experiences to promote healthy brain development," says Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, the director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, "we also need to protect the brain from bad things happening to it. We all understand that in terms of screening for lead, because lead does bad things to a brain, mercury does bad things to a brain, … but toxic stress does bad things to a brain, too—it's a different chemical doing it, but it's still a big problem interfering with brain development."
It's easy to focus too much on the visible parts of the school climate iceberg and have school improvement efforts run aground on the massive issues below the surface.
Studies routinely show that students learn better when they feel safe, for example. Yet interventions that focus on visible signs of safety—metal detectors, wand searches, and so on—have not been found to deter crime and actually can make students feel less safe at school. What does reduce bullying and make students feel safer? According to an analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, only one intervention: more adults visible and talking to students in the hallways, a mark of a climate with better adult-student relationships....
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Posted by Janis Sartucci at 10:00 AM