In addition to my job as Director of District Partnerships at TransformEd, I have been, for a number of years, a project scholar for the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Virginia. There, I work with a variety of scholars to explore how U.S. high schools, including private, religious, independent, charter and public schools, approach character development among their students. My specific work has focused on the rural public-school sector (as defined by the National Center for Educational Statistics), about which I wrote a chapter that was recently published in Content of Their Character: Inquiries into the Varieties of Moral Formation. It consists of descriptive analysis of student character formation at six rural public high schools in the United States during the 2014–2015 and 2015–2016 school years. The analysis is based on classroom observation, school documents, and administrator, parent, teacher, and student interviews.
On October 25, 2017, TransformEd co-hosted Social-Emotional Learning (SEL): A Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Opportunity with the Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC). The summit, held in Westborough, Mass., brought together nearly 200 educators throughout the state to highlight the importance of teaching, leading, and learning about SEL.
Transforming Education has launched a new free resource for educators: our toolkit on social awareness. Social awareness is the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures; to understand social and ethical norms for behavior; and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. Like other TransformEd toolkits, the Social Awareness Toolkit is a 90-minute professional development session, designed for educators seeking research-based strategies to support students in developing this particular competency. Educators who download this free resource will have access to an editable version of the session materials so they can customize them as needed for their own context.
Drawing from improvement science, the Network Improvement Community Model (NIC) is a relatively new approach that provides a framework for deep, networked problem solving. For school and district leaders wanting to improve outcomes in a specific area, this model can serve an efficient way to organize participants. Too often we waste funding, personnel, and other resources toward admirable goals but with a vague understanding of the complexities of the problem. NICs hone in on a single, specific problem and concentrate the energies of all participants to resolve the problem in a cyclical process that creates immediate and actionable results...