The Five Freedoms Project

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5 Things You Can Do: Climate

1. Measure the Quality of Your Climate for Learning

The Center for Social and Emotional Education (CSEE) helps schools integrate crucial social and emotional learning with academic instruction. In doing so, CSEE helps schools enhance student performance, prevent drop outs, reduce physical violence, bullying, and develop healthy and positively engaged adults.

To learn more about CSEE, including its whole-school climate assessment measures, click here.

 

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2. Attend to Your Students’ Social and Emotional Learning Needs

CASEL, or the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, is a collaborative that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning (SEL).

The CASEL approach conducts and gathers research that provides the scientific foundation for SEL and evidence of its impacts. In addition, CASEL works closely with educational leaders in the field to bridge science and practice, putting research and theory to the test in real-world settings.

CASEL’s Web site features links to a variety of tools for evaluating the social and emotional climate of your school. To learn more, click here.

 

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3. Build a Climate of Trust

The work of schools takes place in social contexts in which trust is perhaps the most essential determinant of organizational health. The relationships between educators, educators and students, educators and families, and educators and community members impact student learning in very direct and real ways.

As Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider explain in Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for Improvement, “Good schools are intrinsically social enterprises that depend heavily on cooperative endeavors among the varied participants who comprise the school community. Relational trust constitutes the connective tissue that binds these individuals together around advancing the education and welfare of children. Improving schools requires us to think harder about how best to organize the work of adults and students so that this connective tissue remains healthy and strong.”

To learn more about relational trust in schools, including the critical attributes that help build a climate of trust, click here.

 

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4. Foster the Three R’s of Civil Friction

Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and a national authority on religious liberty, believes a deeper understanding of the First Amendment’s five freedoms can help schools find common ground on the issues that most deeply divide them. “We have found,” he says, “that where communities are committed to coming together in the spirit of the First Amendment, consensus is reached, new policies are drafted, and significant changes take place in the classroom.”

At the heart of that spirit is a framework for balanced, “civil friction” Haynes calls the “Three R’s”:
  • Rights: The First Amendment’s guarantee to protect freedom of conscience is a precious, fundamental and inalienable right for all. Every effort should be made in public schools to protect the consciences of all people.
  • Responsibilities: Central to the notion of the common good is the recognition that the First Amendment’s five freedoms (religion, speech, press, assembly, petition) are universal rights joined to a universal duty to respect the rights of others. Rights are best guarded and responsibilities best exercised when each person and group guards for all others those rights they wish guarded for themselves.
  • Respect: Conflict and debate are vital to democracy. Yet if controversies about freedom in schools are to reflect the highest wisdom of the First Amendment and advance the best interest of the nation, how we debate, and not only what we debate, is critical.


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5. Nurture Ethics and Character

The Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character (CAEC) at Boston University was founded in 1989. The purpose of the Center is to address the broad range of issues related to young people acquiring sound ethical values and forming good character. While this is a broad mission, to date the work of the Center has focused on the responsibilities of teachers and schools.

To learn more about CAEC, and to access its resources for educators, parents and students, click here.

 

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