5 Educational Practices and Policies that Should Be More Widespread
The American education system is not as good as some think, and it certainly is not as bad. Honestly, the truth is somewhere in the middle. We do a lot of things well, and on others, we miss the mark. Trust me, I have been researching and writing about education policy and reform since 2005, so I know the landscape better than most.
To get back on track and attain the dream of creating a system where every child has access to a quality education, we need to work on our weaknesses and be proud of successes. To piggyback off of the later, American educators and policymakers have created a lot of practices and strategies that are having a positive impact, partly because of their potential to create a more equitable system and boost student performance. In this piece, we will talk about 5 educational practices and procedures that should be more widespread.
Mindfulness. Is a set of strategies that have been used for several millennia to help people be “present” and in the moment, instead of focusing on distractions and stressors. Mindfulness is accomplished by calming the mind and becoming more aware of your emotions, cognitions, and body. Staying “present” helps you to increase your focus, improve your socio-emotional intelligence, and enhance your physical health. Studies have shown that incorporating mindfulness techniques and strategies in the classroom provides several teaching and learning benefits. Students and teachers are calm, at peace, and become in full control of their mind, body, and soul, which allows them to have more success in the classroom.
Restorative justice. A restorative justice approach that rehabilitates offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large can go a long way towards keeping kids in class and out of the criminal justice system. This does not have to happen exclusively in classrooms all the time though. Community outreach programs that embrace youth and teach them peace-making resolution strategies can improve the overall outcome for these students. It is important to note that many of these community outreach programs have had a positive impact on their participants and helped them to break the cycle of poverty, violence, and recidivism that has plagued their families for generations.
Universal Preschool. A movement in the U.S. that wants to make preschool available to all children, regardless of their ability level or their families level of income. It received a lot of attention during the Obama years, but the universal preschool train has lost a lot of its steam since he left office. Currently, millions of low-income students have access to a quality preschool education via HeadStart, but the program is far from perfect. Because their parent’s income is over the threshold needed to qualify for HeadStart, millions of children miss out on the power and promise of a quality early childhood education. Universal preschool would change that.
Credit Recovery. Allows students to retake classes online that they have failed in person, helping them remain on track for graduation. Online credit recovery was introduced about a decade ago, and it has since become a booming business. It’s clear that credit recovery is good for graduation rates, but is it good for college and career readiness? Is it good for students? Here’s some hopeful news: competency-based credit recovery programs, in which students must show mastery of a topic to advance, are beneficial. These programs, based on mastery rather than completion, demonstrate a positive direction for online credit recovery.
Unit Recovery. Closely related to the concept of credit recovery, unit recovery allows students to retake only the units or skills that they need to advance. For instance, a student who has demonstrated mastery of 6 out of 10 concepts in an English class doesn’t need to retake the entire course—he can focus on the four concepts that weren’t mastered in person.
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