Keep Kids in Class: Building Positive School Climates

MA Appleseed hosted its 3rd annual conference on May 2, 2014. A diverse audience of educators, advocates, state agencies, and community service providers attended! The conference sparked much discussion about strategies we can employ now to cultivate positive school climates as a reality for all of our children!

The keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks, gave an engaging and galvanizing presentation about the power of mindsets. Using the notion of the “charismatic adult,” Dr. Brooks explained what it means to have a positive mindset and how mindsets impact teachers, students, and the overall school climate.

The following two presentations provided a national context for a discussion of school climate and school discipline. Kate Upatham, an attorney with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), spoke on the federal school discipline guidance, and Dan Losen, from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, presented the most recent OCR school discipline data.

The educators’ panel was the conference highlight! Sara Burd of the Reading Public Schools and Ricci Hall of Worcester Public Schools inspired educators, advocates, and community partners alike when they shared their concrete and practical experiences working with teachers, students, parents, and community members on a daily basis to improve school climates. Anne Gilligan of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided an overview and moderated the panel discussion.

The breakout sessions covered topics ranging from principles of culturally responsive practice to implementing the new school discipline law (Chapter 222).

Conference Materials:

Conference Agenda

Keynote Address:
The Power of Mindsets: Creating a Positive School Climate, Dr. Robert Brooks

Supplemental Materials from Understanding and Managing Children’s Classroom Behavior: Creating Sustainable, Resilient Schools (2007) by Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. and Robert Brooks, Ph.D. published by John Wiley & Sons

Developing the Mindset of Effective Students

Developing the Mindset of Effective Teachers

Zero Tolerance” in Schools: How Effective Is it? Dr. Robert Brooks

School Discipline and Data Presentations:

OCR and DoJ’s joint January 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on Race and Discipline

OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection webpage

The U.S. Department of Education Discipline Guidance Package
Federal School Discipline Data, Daniel J. Losen, UCLA, The Civil Rights Project

Breakout Session Presentations and Handouts:

How to Use Data Well and Recognize the Disparate Impact Based on Race, Gender and Disability, Daniel J. Losen, UCLA, The Civil Rights Project

Implementing the New School Discipline Law: Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, Deborah Dorfman, Center for Public Representation

Not Present, Not Accounted For: Trauma, Learning, and School Discipline; How to Create Buy-in for Change,Jennifer Davis Carey, Worcester Education Collaborative

Crisis in School Suspensions, By Jennifer Carey Davis and Mary Jo Marion Farrell

Focusing on Suspensions, By Jennifer Davis Carey

Additional Resources:

Keep Kids in Class: Alternatives to School Discipline by MA Appleseed

Keep Kids in Class: Perspectives on School Based Referrals by MA Appleseed

Parent Guide to School Discipline by MA Appleseed

MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: 2012-13 Student Discipline Data Report (DISTRICT)

Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Relative To Student Access To Educational Services and Exclusion from School

Arrested Futures