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Elizabeth Englander on Targeting the Behaviors That Feed Bullying

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Notice Gateway Behaviors

At the start of our conversation, Englander cut right to the chase, telling educators that being vigilant about bullying in their schools is the wrong approach to bullying prevention. "The problem is that … the behaviors that an educator actually sees are not necessarily bullying," she said, explaining that a better way to come at the issue is to look for what behaviors children could use to bully one another: "Overwhelmingly, kids no longer use things like physical altercations; they're not beating one another up to get their lunch money. They use psychological ways of expressing contempt. They laugh at somebody, or make fun of them, or roll their eyes to show the person what an idiot they are, or ignore them while they're talking." Englander calls those behaviors and words that express contempt "gateway behaviors."

She warned, however, that gateway behaviors are not exclusive to bullying situations. Kids could exhibit them in a fight or when they are in a foul mood because they didn't get enough sleep. "That's what makes it tricky," Englander acknowledged. "If a student rolls their eyes and laughs with a friend because somebody else gets the answer wrong, I don't know if it's bullying or fighting or anything else."

Yet even without knowing why a student is exhibiting a gateway behavior, Englander noted that the good news for educators is that these contemptuous acts are socially inappropriate in any context: "It doesn't really matter why kids are doing them. As you go through life, you're not supposed to laugh at people, ignore them, or roll your eyes at them."

"Instead of looking for bullying, what we train people to do is to look for gateway behaviors and to respond to them as an inappropriate social behavior. At least some of the time, those behaviors are going to be used to bully. So if you don't ignore them and you clearly make them something that is not OK, you're going to reduce other social problems."

Respond Consistently


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Year-End Roundup, 2016-17 | All Our Lesson Plans, All in One Place

Happy June! At the end of every academic year, we (NY TIMES) collect all the lesson plans we’ve published and list them in a directory of sorts for teachers.

Below you will find our 2016-17 offerings, categorized by subject area, but you can find similar posts going all the way back to 2010 by clicking hereand visiting our old site.

As the number of lesson plans in the category “The Presidency and the 2016 Election” will show, a good deal of our work this year was devoted to responding to The New York Times’s breaking media coverage — and its associated analysis — about the candidates, the election, the inauguration and the Trump administration’s first 100 days, and beyond.

But we also found time to get to material far beyond the front page, from Thoreau, “The Outsiders” and the war in Vietnam to teaching with the Science Times’s Trilobites column and understanding the seven elements of art.

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Chronic Absenteeism: A key indicator of student success

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For students to succeed academically, they must be present and engaged at school. Nationwide, approximately 6.8 million— or one in seven—students miss 15 or more days during the school year.2 By most definitions, these students are considered ‘chronically absent.’ Research shows that chronic absenteeism can affect academic performance in later grades and is a key early warning sign that a student is more likely to drop out of high school.3 Several states enacted legislation to address this issue, and many states are currently discussing the utility of chronic absenteeism as an indicator of school quality or student success (SQSS) in their accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This policy brief provides information for policymakers and state education leaders on the research, key issues and policy options available to address chronic absenteeism and improve attendance.

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Gifted students benefit from ability grouping

Schools should use both ability grouping and acceleration to help academically talented students, reports a new Northwestern University study that examined a century of research looking at the controversial subject.

Ability grouping places students of similar skills and abilities in the same classes. Acceleration, most commonly known as grade skipping, subject acceleration or early admission into kindergarten or college, gives students the chance to access opportunities earlier or progress more rapidly.

The widely debated educational techniques effectively increase academic achievement at a low cost and can benefit millions of students in U.S. school systems, according to the study, published in Review of Educational Research.

"Although acceleration is widely supported by research as an effective strategy for meeting the needs of advanced learners, it's still rarely used, and most schools do not systematically look for students who need it," said study co-author Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, director of the Center for Talent Development at the Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy.

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How to Practice Effectively

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Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence. But what does practice actually do to make us better at things? Annie Bosler and Don Greene explain how practice affects the inner workings of our brains.



How to Practice Effectively

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