Addressing adversity........Creating Balance........Enhancing communication
Meeting the demands of our high school curriculum while solidifying the mental health and well-being of students is a constant balancing act. Life constantly changes. People react differently. Circumstances evolve. Reasonable accommodations one day are insufficient another. Meanwhile, our curriculum expands and teachers feel increased expectations to offer more services in less time. Our ACE initiative attempts to provide support for students in multiple areas.
Many of the concerns we face are far from new. Indeed the MHS 1932 Yearbook had a section on humor:
Jane: "I was still studying history at twelve o'clock last night."
Edna: "You poor kid, when did you start?"
Jane: "At five to."
Elsewhere in the 1932 Yearbook: "Students are taught to think out and decide their own study, social, and school life problems." Concern about student well being is not a new phenomenon. What has grown are the number of marketing solutions, workshops, articles, lectures and general publicity on this topic. Information has grown exponentially parallel to the growth of the internet. Community members have access and exposure to massive amounts of education theory. Of course, our teachers are students of their profession and have amassed years of training and experience before they even begin their careers. Our professionals spend countless time reflecting - and discussing - balancing the needs of their students.
We are partnering with Challenge Success (click here) to “embrace a broad definition of success and to implement research-based strategies that promote student well-being and engagement with learning.”
Also, worth reading is a book by New York TImes' Frank Bruni who spoke at MHS in October 2018: Where You Go is Not Who'll You Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania
Some schools have recently received nice publicity for introducing homework-free wellness weekends. Millburn High School has been doing this for years: "After the extended vacations no tests are to be administered nor homework due on the day we return....Long-term assignments are not due until the following Monday. No tests/homework on the day we return from Thanksgiving; Easter and Memorial Day. (Exception with AP classes during our April vacation).
Staff sensitivity does not end there. "Student conflicts will occur throughout the year due to personal matters. Students should approach the teacher(s) with individual concerns prior whenever possible. Reasonable accommodations include modifying due dates of assignments and administering tests on a different date." Because of the personal nature of these extenuating circumstances, exceptions can only be made on an individual case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, students having more than 3 "major" tests on any given day may have the need to reschedule. "If students cannot work out "reasonable" accommodations directly with their teachers or guidance counselor then administration shall give permission to take tests the next day as determined by the order of their periods."