Coming together to support students

ASCD Associate Executive Director Ronn Nozoe in this Q&A discusses the current state of the 2017-18 school year, including trends in teaching and learning. Nozoe, a veteran educator who formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs at the US Department of Education, also offers words of wisdom to inspire educators during the remaining months of the school year.

Q. How would you characterize the 2017-18 school year so far?

For many students across the country, the beginning of the school year has been marked by tragedy. From mass shootings, to hurricanes and fires, educators and students have had to overcome insurmountable odds in the wake of tragic events. But through the unrelenting will of families and a strong community of caring educators, we are seeing schools reopen and communities coming together to support the continued growth of our students and teachers.

Q. What have been some of the biggest education issues this year?

Some of the major themes we’re seeing this year include social-emotional learning, media literacy, multi-cultural education, and funding for schools.

Q. How have these issues affected educators and students?

Recent events and issues have left too many educators and students uncertain about the future, which ultimately affects student learning. What we’ve seen is that strong support for creating a space for open dialogue, and supported by high-quality resources, helps create learning opportunities that enhance collaboration and increase understanding for students to reach new heights in learning.

Q. What would you like to see for the future of education reform and policy?

Students are capable of so much, but we must establish and reform policies that protect our kids and advance the craft of our educators. This will require increased funding for educator professional development and programs that have been proven to advance student achievement.

Q. What teaching and learning innovations are you seeing in schools?

We’ve seen recent advancements in how we address the needs of the whole child, and the supports being developed to ensure no child falls through the cracks. A shift toward increased personalized learning and wraparound services are resulting in a better understanding of exactly what it takes to support our diverse student population, and an upsurge in student and educator performance.

Q. What words of wisdom can you share to inspire educators during the remaining months of the 2017-18 school year?

The words of wisdom I’ll share come from the 19th Century philosopher William James, which are just as relevant today as they were so many years ago: “Let everything you do be done as if it makes a difference.” And, as educators, making a difference is what we’re capable of every day.

Ronn Nozoe is the Associate Executive Director of ASCD. He is a lifelong educator with 20 years of experience successfully leading transformational change at the classroom, school, district, state, and national levels. He is a child-focused and people-oriented leader who is passionate about bringing people together to work toward common goals. Read his full bio.

Melissa Greenwood is the education content director at SmartBrief.

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