Earlier this year, I read an NPR interview with Susan Cain, author of Quiet, and most recently of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. In it, Cain reveals a nationwide growth in understanding that sometimes quiet students are just as engaged, talented, and successful in school as their extroverted peers. Cain points out that as a culture we’ve tended to value the extroverted person for their willingness to contribute, their confidence, their assertiveness. In school, we often encourage extroverted behavior by grading students on class discussion and presentations. But this approach may have missed something important: introverted students need to be valued for who they are, and then led slowly, rather than pushed, out of their comfort zone.
This time of year, many of our students and families are planning for the summer. As the weather warms up, our students are already anticipating sunny summer days with fewer responsibilities and the possibility of sleeping in. While having time to relax and to take a break from the rigors of the school year is important, we also know that having some kind of structure in place during the summer helps keep our students on track to be successful in the following school year.
In my work with high school students, the “pronoun question” comes up regularly. For some students, it is something they have never thought about before - some might even not remember what a pronoun is! For others, the pronoun you use when talking with them is something that matters deeply to them and signals either acceptance of their identity or rejection. Some students may still be struggling with their gender identity and not be certain how they want to be defined, and yet others may not fit neatly into the gender binary of the English language.
There are so many skills we work to teach our children, and among them is how to become a good self-advocate. As the nurse at Rock Point School, one of my jobs is to help students learn how to utilize the health care system and to become effective consumers. As children get older and become teenagers, it is important for them to begin to take ownership over their health and wellness.
In October, we hosted a discussion with local therapist and adoption specialist Benjamin Houchen on Adoption and Adolescents. We invited families in our community to join us to share insight and ask questions about how best to support teens who were adopted. While each family is unique, Houchen addressed the themes that emerge during adolescence and the particular significance they have for children who have been adopted.
Wilderness and therapeutic programs can be a significant resource for some teens and families. These programs provide a safe and structured environment where young people can work through a crisis point, address behaviors that are harmful, and gain emotional and social skills that will allow them to flourish. Because many of these programs are designed for short term treatment, families and educational consultants can be left searching for the right “next place” for their teenagers.
As they move into “back to school” season, teens may be experiencing lots of anxiety around school work, schedules, friendships, and activities. They have to negotiate new teachers, try-outs for activities, and navigate new social situations. Many teens are going from a relatively relaxing summer to a highly scheduled school year and they simply may be out of “shape” for the transition back to school.
If you’ve been paying attention to the educational landscape in the past few years, you’ve probably heard the terms “Social and Emotional Learning,” “Grit,” “Resilience,” “Life Skills,” or “Soft Skills” being thrown around. While it is clear that these skills are extremely important to our young people and can be a large factor in determining success, it can be difficult to sort out which specific skills fall into these categories and how to teach them. At Rock Point School, we refer to teaching these skills as educating the “whole person.”