Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
The overall educational culture of your child’s school is an important role in school success. From the principal down through each grade level, there should be a clear school-wide plan for student success and academic growth.
Here are 6 fundamentals that promote positive and successful school cultures, and should be in effect at your child’s school:
1. All students can learn. Even if a child has learning difficulties or issues, that child can learn and advance to the best of his abilities.
2. There are clear expectations for all students. This should apply both to academics and acceptable school conduct. Many schools have adopted the PBIS system (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) to place the focus on appropriate school behaviors. PBIS is a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Education and 11 technical assistance units across the country.
3. Academic school standards are high and rigorous. If your state is following the Common Core Standards, rigor and achievement are clearly defined.
4. The school has accountability measures for both students and teachers. For students, this means that assessments are equitable across grade levels. For teachers, this means that evaluations are done with clear state- or city-wide expectations and consequences for all.
5. Teachers collaborate among grade levels. Many schools set up common planning time so that teachers, in the same grade level, can plan and discuss curriculum direction and assessments. This ensures that all students, at that grade level, are receiving important skills at the same time.
6. Respect and kindness in classrooms. What parent hasn’t cringed when they overheard a teacher yelling at or embarrassing a child? Or, what parent hasn’t been mortified when they were called to a conference because their child was disrespectful to a teacher or principal? When schools actively develop a culture of kindness and respect, children naturally respond with empathy and acceptance—even when disagreeing.