Since my first blog post generated a response from a high school teacher wondering about what the Forum will offer for educators at the secondary level, I thought I’d feature one of our PreForum workshops today: Optimizing the High School Experience.

Just take a look at the takeaways:

Participants will learn how to help secondary students…

  • Develop skills in perspective taking and empathy that lead to respectful and compassionate behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity and work collaboratively with their peers.
  • Build safe and respectful environments in their classrooms and school.
  • Develop positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Address underlying thoughts and emotions that interfere with learning.
  • Become self-motivated and engaged learners.
  • Identify their strengths, set goals, and prepare for their future.

Special emphasis will be given to student transition into ninth grade. I know from my 32 years as a high school and middle school teacher that those transition years are the most challenging and most important. My school set up a mentoring program for seniors to mentor the freshmen and offered welcoming opportunities and workshops. But still, many of the discipline problems and academic challenges came from the ninth grade class. How I wish I could have taken a workshop like this one.

The presenters’ credentials are impressive. Kathy Beland was the lead writer for CEP’s Eleven Principles Sourcebook (2003), a compendium of resources for character education. She is also the lead author of “School-Connect, Optimizing the High School Experience,” a curriculum designed to boost social, emotional and academic skills, and the original author of “Second Step, A Violence-Prevention Curriculum” (grades K-9). In 2009 she received the Sanford N. McDonnell Award for Lifetime Achievement in Character Education.

Co-presenter Julea Douglass also has outstanding credentials. She is associate director of School-Connect and co-author of “School-Connect: Optimizing the High School Experience.”  She served as research associate and program coordinator at CEP and is lead author of the CEP Character Education Evaluation Toolkit. Julea received her M.Ed. specializing in human development and psychology from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Virginia’s Curry Programs in Clinical and School Psychology.