Top 10 in 10 in 2: Embracing the “Whole Child”

Hello, I’m Sheila Alles, Chief Deputy Superintendent
at the Michigan Department of Education. . . .and this is another edition of the Top 10 in 10
in 2 Podcast. When we think of a child having a caring and
engaging learning environment, we need to look at the “whole child,” beyond the child
as a student in our schools. MDE has defined the “whole child” as “a unique
learner comprised of interacting dimensions such as cognitive, physical, behavioral, social
and emotional.” The whole child lives within multiple and
interconnected environments including home, school, and community. Michigan’s Top 10 in 10 Strategic Plan has
a number of strategies designed to recognize the needs of the whole child both in and out
of the classroom. One of those strategies is the work MDE is
currently doing to develop a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, or MTSS, which is a comprehensive
framework, or model, that uses many research-based, effective strategies and interventions to
meet the needs of the whole child. We are developing the MTSS framework as we
work with Lenawee, Saginaw, and Ingham intermediate school districts, with plans to scale-up the
implementation model statewide when it is fully developed. Another Top 10 in 10 strategy is to engage
community partners to integrate student supports to meet the individual needs of each child. Early childhood organizations, county human
and mental health services organizations, churches and others are great partners for
discussion in this area. Goal 5 in Michigan’s Top 10 in 10 plan addresses
many strategies to encourage and support family engagement. Research clearly underscores one straight-forward
concept: students do better when parents and guardians are actively involved with their
child’s education. There are several more strategies in Michigan’s
Top 10 in 10 plan that address the “whole child’. And I encourage all schools and communities
to visit Michigan’s Top 10 in 10 Strategic Plan located on the MDE website. I believe you will find it is a great starting
point to spark the important discussions of how you can create partnerships or expand
existing ones in your communities to better address the unique needs of the whole child. By focusing on the “whole child”, we will
shape the kind of learners and learning that will help make Michigan a Top 10 education
state in 10 years. Thank you.

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2 Responses

  1. John Severson says:

    Well done. We are working with HealthWest and other community organizations regarding ACES Data. Thanks for sharing this important message!

  2. Anne Bowen says:

    I encourage you to visit schools in Michigan that are already working tirelessly to meet the diverse needs of our students. The variety and depth of needs in our student populations have grown exponentially over the past decade, as our funds to meet needs have been cut. This is not news to anyone working with students. We feed them, give them books before summer break to take home to keep as their own, coats and boots for winter, we have RTI interventionists and individualized learning plans for every possible need, whether it qualifies as an IEP or 504 or simply a child that has been dealt an unfair hand in life. Every day I work with students with learning deficits, mental health issues, ELL, seizures, anger issues and throw away kids. They're wonderful people full of potential. If you're only working from offices and reading about the needs of kids you need to get out and experience the intensity of needs we are meeting.

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