The AmeriCorps members of Project CHANGE Montgomery meet each week and compare notes on how they think their students are coping. While most kids are taking it in their stride, a lot are battling difficult conditions at home, finding study hard and getting depressed. It’s not that they are missing school but what school offers them outside of the classroom- friends, interactons, sport, fun, games, just hanging out.
In response to having one week’s notice to take school on line, most school districts have realized what a heavy lift that is. Teachers were not trained for this. But what they are also discovering even more is that ZOOM classes do not recreate the welcoming community that students need to be open to learning. As one of the MCPS leadership team said this week, “What we have at MCPS is a mental health crisis.” She went on to say that “the SEL needs for students are off the charts.”
That is where Project CHANGE Montgomery comes in. Right now, the program is preparing to play are more significant and impactful role in supporting MCPS students in their isolation. We must do more to ensure that social bonds are not broken, and that students do not lose faith in themselves. To that end, our SEL instument is being developed into the MYSCORE app. Every student that AmeriCorps servese will be able to connect to members and share their score so we know how our students feel they are coping in real time. Then we will be able to repond.
Our 5C’s of learning come out of the culture of both the school and it’s community, the nation and the economy, and the state of the world. It is not about just grasping a text book. How can students remain confident, curious and engaged with learning, collaborative and emotionally expressive, courageous and resilient and hopeful.
The last time that MCPS had a full scale survey of student attitudes was conducted by GALLUP polling 7 years ago. They were after data on three items that echo the 5Cs of learning of MYSCORE. They asked students questions that would measure a students level of engagement, their overall wellness and their sense of Hope. The results are to be found here and here.
“Gallup research shows that the more connected students feel to school, the better chance they have of taking advantage of all that schools have to offer.”
In a way, that is what we would expect but when education is seen as so totally school-centric, the larger family and economic, national and cultural factors are not given sufficient weight into what attitudes a student comes to form about him or herself as a successful life learner. The school cannot do that alone.
In the discussion at the time, some experts explained why the survey was so important. “Gallup’s student survey is based on 40 years of social science research that suggests that “hope, engagement and well-being” are measurable, manipulable variables. Studies indicate that these factors can better predict how well students do in school and the likelihood of future success than standard academic measures such as grade-point averages and test scores, said Timothy Hodges, director of research for the polling firm’s education arm.” ( Washington Post July 17th 2013)
That is precisely where MYSCORE and Project CHANGE come in. We have to pick up where the GALLUP poll left off. Our students need a way to score how they see themselves as coping, and be able to share that.