teacher-helping-happy-studentCommon Core Standards are the latest concern for teachers, administrators, parents and students. As educators wrestle with implications arising from new expectations, there is an opportunity to refocus efforts on creating the right conditions for learning as well as the right skill sets that are truly worthy of being called an educational Core. The word “core” comes from “Coeur” old French for Heart. Unfortunately, the process of education is often focused too heavily on matters of the head rather than integrated with matters of the heart. The irony is that the very achievement we so prize and so rigorously assess will never be reached without an approach that focuses on the entire process of learning; an approach that builds upon social and emotional competence as an essential foundation for cognitive growth; an approach that embraces and addresses learning from a Whole Child perspective.

Learning is process that results from the confluence of the right balance of rigor and relationships; of support and perseverance; of collaboration and independence; of caring and challenge; of an optimistic mindset paired with deep knowledge and solid skills. Good science tells us that valid and reliable measurement tools are critical to an informed and responsive educational system that is designed to build from strengths to meet learning needs. Use of the DESSA offers a blueprint for creating a balanced learning approach for the heart as well as the head.

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Sheryl L. Harmer, Ed.D.

About the Guest Author

Sheryl L. Harmer, Ed.D., specializes in social and emotional strategy and skill development, school improvement, and community-wide systems change. Her consulting work creates alliances and collaborative efforts that bridge research, policy, and practice with the focus on advancing social and emotional learning as an integral part of basic education and healthy youth development.

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