Every student succeeds part 2

Since a large part of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” revolves around the General Learning Objectives, and the community is also being tasked with modeling them, I thought that a review of them might be helpful. The learning objective of Effective Communication is highly important, relating to other GLOS. Our happiness can depend upon it. But first I’d like to share some news.

It was wonderful to hear from Kauai’s Superintendent of Schools, Bill Arakaki regarding all that has been done already. He states, “Kauai has been participating in similar focus groups which Laverne was a part of on May 31. The Governor’s ESSA Town Hall meetings are now happening and we will have on August 24, 2016 at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm to gather input and share bright spots regarding the educational changes and opportunities from the students, teachers, and other stakeholders in the summit this past weekend. Our DOE Ohana has been working diligently on innovation, inquiry based education, relevance, and student voice in matters related to learning. We support the efforts to engage and involve all stakeholders for the future of education on Kauai.”

He was responding to my comment that while I was at the summit and attending “student-led” groups I felt that Kauai’s kids were a bit out of the loop. There was no representation of any of the neighbor islanders. I later found out that one student comes a quarter to represent Kauai in the district meetings. I did suggest in my post summit survey that I would like to have heard more from outer islands. So congratulations Kauai, and I apologize to all of the hard-working teaching staff who also shared that misperception. And I was the one out of the loop about how much the kids had been working already. I’m sorry.

I worked for two years at Ele’ele as a special education pre-school teacher, and I know how hard it is to meet everyone’s needs. Everyone I met was very professional and hard-working. Many teachers came in over the weekend, or early, or stayed late to get their work done.

Rubrics are given by the Hawaii Department of Education to determine what level of functioning a student is exhibiting. I’m using the rubric for consistently demonstrating effective communication at a sixth grade level from the DOE website.

Some of the bullet points are:

w Consistently solicit and actively listens to the ideas and opinions of others and demonstrates thorough understanding of the communication.

w Consistently determines purpose for communicating, organizes and presents information to serve the purpose, context and audience.

w Consistently communicates information with logic and coherence. Intended purpose is explicit and all major points are fully elaborated.

w Consistently seeks information through reading various types of written materials.

w Consistently self corrects and takes risks.

More and more workplaces are using team approaches in their work. Employees are even given lists of peers they can speak to for help and support. This is reflected in the GLO of Community Contributor and leads to being the Quality Producer.

An outstanding model of how a team of some first graders helped their classmate Austin learn how to draw a butterfly for a card project can be seen at https://vimeo.com/38247060

He chose a tiger swallowtail. It was supposed to be a “scientific” drawing of a butterfly. His first attempt was recognizable as a butterfly, but nothing like the specie. Instead of just collecting it, he was told that it was a good first draft, and that his first grade critique group would offer suggestions and he could make another draft and get better and then a third, and Austin was ready to go.

They decided to split the advice into two parts, first about the shape of the wings, and then about the designs. They communicated thoughtfully and respectfully, and Austin went back to create a second. They gave him good feedback about his corrections, and offered some more suggestions, and he went back for a third draft. He improved some more. They then suggested that he add the patterns, and in his final sixth draft he added color, and created an incredible picture! All along he was growing, listening, observing, while his friends were respectfully suggesting, and reinforcing the progress that he made. And they all learned that everyone can learn from their mistakes, so it isn’t failure. Wow! To learn all that in first grade is awesome.

It takes time to do this. Kids are coached in how to give specific critiques, focusing on one aspect of a quality at a time. They are also coached on giving positive helpful feedback.

In the rubrics, listening is a very large part of being an effective communicator. One way conversations aren’t communicating. Sometimes they aren’t even respectful. How can I understand what another person is feeling or thinking unless I ask and question it? As a mediator, and I have had this conversation with lawyers and teacher friends as well, people think they know what another person is thinking or feeling, and then act according to what they think that person is thinking.

Effective communication takes emotional intelligence. It isn’t just about using the right words. It’s about perceiving how others are responding, or reading signs of when we, or the people we are talking to are becoming emotional. An illustration of this is how Sheldon, on “The Big Bang Theory” doesn’t really seem to understand how his “logical” comments might affect others negatively. Emotional intelligence can be learned, however. Which is good. Because a person with a high “EQ” has a better chance of being successful than a person with a high “IQ.” Emotional intelligence includes self-soothing, knowing how to calm oneself down.

So let’s hear it for kinder, gentler, more specific, respectful and collaborative communication!


Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org. For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kauai, please go to www.haleopio.org.


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