New slogans, lackluster plans
In the previous edition of El Ciento-Siete, I wrote an article titled “A Foundation’s Façade,” in which I addressed the issue about the school’s prestigious external image, and its contrast to the actual situation in the school.
It’s one thing to point out the problem, but it’s much more valuable to actually give a solution. The truth is that the ASFM administration is making a conscious effort in enforcing the ideals of community, inclusion, respect, and hard work through initiatives such as Character Education classes, the Integrity Council, assemblies on intrapersonal growth and a change in assessment policies. Unfortunately, these methods have yet to demonstrate a positive impact.
The idea of motivating students to find goals and focus on their education, sounds like a sensible, innovative plan of action. The true problem doesn’t stem from the concept itself, but its implementation. For example, the administration made a strong emphasis on the slogan “Open Minds, Caring Hearts and Global Leaders.” We hear about it in every assembly, how it’s the school’s new direction to enforce student growth in the 21st century, but we never learn about the methodology, or even the skills to make it a reality. Placing the school’s slogan in glossy red and white letters on the wall is useless if we don’t have a long term plan to reach it. The school itself has the incentive and motivation to increase student engagement and well being at school, but with no substantial plan behind it, an idea will always be just that.
After talking to leadership at the MSHS campus, I became aware of the administration’s solution to some of the problems stated in the previous article. The idea is to add “Social and Emotional Competencies” to classrooms, meaning teaching and assessing skills such as responsible decision making, self management and social awareness. These are the competencies that can really help us make the slogan a reality. However, with the concern of implementation and planning, will this simply turn out to be another example of our glistening motto? Great ideas, with no substance behind them? We need to consider if and how students will succeed in meeting the same expectations that the school proudly displays to the outside world.
Another factor, however, stems from some students themselves and their individual sense of entitlement, which is displayed through their arrogance and lack of interest towards their learning. Many students today focus on simply passing a class or “getting through high school,” which shows their diminutive amount of motivation.
If the administration wants to truly uphold its sense of prestige, they have to, for lack of a better idiom, start from scratch. Starting the Social and Emotional Competencies is a great idea, but only if it has a substantial and thought out plan behind it. When does the school intervene when students are not meeting expectations? How will we support them in their learning? If the school manages to keep track of how a student progresses through middle school and high school in these social/emotional competencies, then they can create individualized student goals. As educators, the school has an inherent responsibility to ensure that a student finds and works towards these goals, and as students we have just as much responsibility to strive to reach them.