California Educator

November / December 2016

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Page 8 of 59

Accept, Respect Differences I T ' S A T I M E of change, deep divisions, and unfortunately increasing instances of incivility — online, on streets, in pub- lic arenas, and even in schools. It is more important than ever that children and young people learn empathy and compassion, shared responsibility for others' well-being, and how to accept and cope with differences. H o w c a n e d u c a t o r s t e a c h t h i s ? O n e w ay i s t h r o u g h s o ci al-emotional l earnin g (SEL), d escri b ed in our stor y "Managing Our Inner Selves" (page 20). SEL helps students understand that everyone experiences a range of emotions, and gives them tools to cope when facing conflicts. In other words, students learn self-control, and how to get along with others and make good decisions. It's not all touchy-feely ; SEL's premise is that students can best achieve their academic potential when they learn to man- age their emotions. Research bears this out. Accepting differences has long been hard for us. Actor and activist George Takei reminds us of how he, his family and other Japanese-Americans paid a high price for looking differ- ent during World War II (page 14). Takei made sure Allegiance, a musical play and now a film based on his experience in intern- ment camps, had an educational component so that educators can teach students about this ugly, often forgotten period in history with sensitivity and knowledge. Also forgotten but now the subject of a book and major motion picture is the story of a group of brainy African Amer- ican women, most of them former math teachers, who helped us win the space race in the years after World War II. "To the Moon and Back" (page 26) sheds light on several of these i n c re d i b l e " h u m a n c o m p u t e r s ," w h o b r o ke b a r r i e r s o n multiple levels and who only recently have been acknowl- edged for their work. e women's story is part of our section celebrating STEM Stars. eir achievements in science, technology, engineering and math are reflected in the work of modern-day STEM Stars Camie Walker and Jason Diodati (pages 30 and 33, respectively). With the Next Generation Science Standards rolling out and increased emphasis on STEM in the classroom, these educators' efforts are prime examples of the kind of hands-on, experiential teaching and learning that needs to take place. It's not always easy. e emphasis on collaboration and team- work, along with heightened social interactivity, is harder for introverted students — and teachers. Introverts may come off as antisocial and unfriendly, when in fact, as educator Michael Godsey says in "How to Teach Introverts" (page 46), they are "energized by quiet space, introspection and deep relationships." Interestingly, Godsey did part of his research at a public school for at-risk teens, where some students told him they were thriving in the quieter, more traditional academic envi- ronment versus the interactive classrooms at their former schools. And our story "Schools for Second Chances" (page 34) underscores differences not just in how we look and feel and think, but in how students learn and find their way forward. e educators who work with these young people understand that conventional schools and paths are not the only way. All educators know this, of course, and expertly vary lessons and methods to best suit their students on a daily (perhaps hourly) basis. A few teachers are recognized for such excellence, such as the 2017 California Teachers of the Year (page 50). ese five earned high praise for their qualities of inclusion, compassion and innovation. Congratulations to the honorees — and to all of the dedicated, outstanding educators they rep- resent: you! Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F Season of Gratitude A S W E L O O K toward the end of the year and the holiday season, we at CTA are grateful for all you do for our students and for our profession. We wish educators everywhere happy holidays! 7 November / December 2016 Garfield Elementary schoolchildren practice social-emotional learning.

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