Monday, April 8, 2013

Students at Risk: What are the Critical Issues?

By Dr. James Davis

I am a principal at an elementary school in NC.  We are a "majority-minority" school and we have a FRL (free and reduced lunch rate) of approximately 70%. Recently, I have spent some time researching at-risk students at the elementary level. I have also paid particular interest to what teachers report as action steps which work to move students forward at a rapid rate and positively impact the school day for both students and teachers alike.

I recently came across the following article: Critical Issue: Providing Effective Schooling for Students at Risk. I was particularly interested in one of the subtitles from this page, "ACTION OPTIONS: Educators can take the following actions to provide effective schooling for students."  Many different topics were referenced, as you can imagine:
  • join with parents and community members
  • professional development
  • positive school climate
  • standards and accountability

I agree with most of these recommendations. However, I always wish that we had access to more of the specifics that come along with moving students forward and running schools in an extremely student-centered, progressive manner. For example, no one in education would disagree with the need and importance of a positive school climate. However, what I hear people wanting is items that can be implemented and replicated which lead to the positive school climate.

In the end, I always go back to relationships. I know from experience and research that relationships matter and they change lives. Having a meaningful, significant relationship with a student impacts their behavior, their attitude, their work, and so much  more. In addition, a meaningful relationship will also last longer and yield more positive benefits than those which can be contained within a 180-day school year.

Again, many things were shared in the article, and several school stakeholders were involved.  My questions to you as a stakeholder in elementary education…
  1. What surprises you from the list?
  2. What do you agree with from the list?
  3. As a practitioner, what would you add to the list?
  4. What suggestions and recommendations would you offer to elementary teachers who work with at-risk students?
  5. What suggestions and recommendations would you offer to elementary administrators who work to support those who teach  at-risk students?
What are your thoughts about these critical issues for at-risk students?

Dr. James Davis serves on the NCAEE Board. He received his doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Urban Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Davis has taught and worked as a school administrator for 14 years in North Carolina. He currently lives in North Carolina where he is a Principal in Cabarrus County and an adjunct professor with UNC Charlotte. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Elementary School Conference - Call for Proposals!

NC Elementary School Conference
Proposal Deadline April 7th

Have you ever presented a session at a local or statewide conference? If so, you know it can be exciting to share strategies that are working for you and to see other educators get just as excited about them as you are! It's both gratifying and humbling to know that you can impact others simply by taking time to share your expertise with them.

Maybe you don't think of yourself as an "expert" and worry that others won't be interested in what you have to offer. But if you love teaching and are successful in your own classroom, chances are good that you are more of an expert than you realize. Do you use hands-on strategies to reach your students? Do you use technology in creative ways? Are your students excited to be in your classroom each day? If so, it's time to step into a leadership role where you can share these experiences and positively impact others!

The NCAEE is seeking presenters for the Elementary School Conference at the Koury Center in Greensboro this October, and we invite you to submit your proposal today. Our theme is "Common Core and So Much More," so sessions tied directly to the Common Core are definitely needed. However, with the recent focus on technology in the classroom, we are also seeking presentations that will help teachers meet these new digital demands. If you would like present a session at this year's conference, you can learn more and submit your proposal online at The proposal deadline is April 7th, and we hope to be able to notify those who are accepted by the end of April or early May.

Whether or not you submit a proposal, we hope you'll join us on October 22nd for the Elementary School Conference. Registration is already open, and if you sign up now you'll save with the Early Registration discount. Visit the NCAEE Conference page to learn more and register. Hope to see you in Greensboro in October!