Acknowledgments About the Authors Introduction Part I. Seeing the Whole Teen Chapter 1. The Whole Teen Comes Into the School Chapter 2. The Whole Teen Comes Into a Dominant Culture Part II. Everyday Practices Chapter 3. Connecting to Adults and Peers, Not Just to Academics Chapter 4. Creating a Culture of Shared Responsibility, Not Just Obeying Chapter 5. Learning Collaboratively, Not Just Nearby Chapter 6. Communicating Effectively, Not Just Mumbling, Exploding, Avoiding, or Texting Chapter 7. Managing Work and Developing a Work Ethic, Not Just Passing or Cramming Chapter 8. Developing Emotional Skillfulness Proactively, Not Just Reactively Chapter 9. Becoming More Independent, Not Just Alone Chapter 10. Connecting Lessons to Life, Not Just to Tests Part III. The Whole School Surrounds the Whole Teen Chapter 11. Leaders Set the Tone for Themselves and Others Chapter 12. Schoolwide Structures, Practices, and Policies That Support the Whole Teen Chapter 13. Faculty Culture That Supports the Whole Teen Chapter 14. The Novice Teacher Comes Into the School Appendix: Formats and Facilitation Tools References Index
Rachel Poliner is an educational consultant specializing in whole student approaches and change management. Her work has focused on school climate, instructional, and structural reforms: K-12 social and emotional learning, middle and high school advisory programs, high school redesign, and improving faculty climate. Her in-depth approach spans classroom and school-wide structures, practices and programs, curriculum, staff development, district policies and systems, and coaching administrators, teams and teacher leaders. She is an author of The Advisory Guide: Designing and Implementing Effective Advisory Programs in Secondary Schools, and curricula, chapters, and articles on personalization, social-emotional learning, resiliency, dialogue, and conflict resolution. Poliner has consulted with public and independent schools in New England and across the U.S.; has been a teacher, educational organization director, and a faculty member for master's degree candidates in conflict resolution education and peaceable schools. Rachel Poliner can be contacted at RachelPoliner@LeadersAndLearners.org Jeffrey Benson has worked in almost every school context in over forty years of experience in the field of education: as a teacher in elementary, middle, and high schools; as an instructor in undergraduate and graduate programs; as an administrator in day and residential schools. He has studied and worked side by side with national leaders in the fields of special education, learning theory, trauma and addiction, school reform, adult development, and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant to public and independent schools, mentored teachers and principals in varied school settings, and has written on many school-based issues. He is the author of Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most, and 10 Steps to Managing Change in Schools. The core of Jeffrey Benson's work is in understanding how people learn, the starting point for everything that schools should do. Jeffrey Benson can be contacted at JeffreyBenson@LeadersAndLearners.org
"Teaching the Whole Teen is an insightful, hopeful, and very
practical resource for teachers, parents and schools. The book
stays rooted in the day-to-day practice of teaching the whole
teen, and it articulates in very doable ways suggestions for
how to better support teenagers in their development. It's
accessible, inspiring, and a valuable read for all
-- Jennifer Abrams, Educational Consultant
"This rich treasure-trove of inventive, concrete and well-grounded ideas offers a gift to our profession and to all who would strengthen the quality of life and learning for young people and adults under the roof of the schoolhouse." -- Roland S. Barth, Educator
"An important contribution to the field of SEL with a much-needed focus on teens in middle and high schools - this book highlights the importance of relationships to cognitive and social growth, explicitly teaching SEL skills, and the role of adults as models. Combining research and best practices from multiple disciplines, Poliner and Benson deliver accessible, hands-on tips and tools for educators and educational leaders. Through discussion of theory and helpful anecdotes from a wide range of school settings, this book provides an SEL guide that is culturally relevant for all teen and adult populations. Students and educators will benefit from the holistic approach and practical guidance presented in this book." -- Nova Biro, Co-Director
"As a former elementary school principal first in a K-5 setting and then K-8, this book would have been an excellent and valuable resource for understanding teenagers and middle school students. I found so many practical strategies that I could have used with the students in the K-8 setting and shared with staff that had taught in a K-5 setting and also had to transition."
-- Gustava Cooper-Baker, Principal
"I sincerely feel that new and veteran teachers will benefit from reading and discussing this book. Readers are guaranteed to reflect upon current practice and be introduced to countless teaching strategies that will improve the educational experience of their students." -- David G. Daniels, High School Principal
"Hallelujah! Benson and Poliner have written a book that many educators have been searching for - one that illuminates a pathway to develop important social and emotional skills that all adolescents need to master. There is much available in this domain that focuses on the needs of young children but fewer substantive resources for secondary educators (and parents!) interested in balancing academic accountability with vital skill development in self-efficacy, civic responsibility, and resiliency. These authors demonstrate a deep understanding of adolescent development and use that knowledge to illuminate pathways to strengthen important youth competencies. The authors frame their insights and practical strategies through a lens that is cognizant of the needs of the wide range of diverse learners that populate our modern-day middle and high schools. The book is also filled with thoughtfully crafted teaching lessons that can help educators infuse youth development into classroom work without compromising academic rigor. Additionally, there are pragmatic supports for principals who want to facilitate faculty discussions and parents who want to bring these lessons home. This book is rich with both insights and practical guidance for how we can help teens to become sharp thinkers and caring and contributing citizens." -- John D'Auria, President
"Poliner and Benson empower our school communities to lay the foundations, practices, spaces, and rituals to educate the 'whole child.' They walk us through the various lenses students bring with them each day to school--the social, emotional, physical, cognitive, etc.--and how those lenses interact with the cultures and practices in our communities. They provide us ways to foster the positive relationships that lead to students who are resilient and self-aware and ultimately better prepared to navigate the complexities before them. Understanding schools and their leaders, the authors offer practical and accessible tools that can really make a difference. This useful resource will quickly become a go-to guide for planning conversations, faculty meetings, parent education, and self-examining and rethinking our schools." -- Roberto D'erizans, Middle School Principal
"Teaching the Whole Teen is a gem of a book, one that sparkles with brilliant insights, guidance and invaluable practical resources to support "everyday practices that promote success and resilience in school and life." Poliner and Benson tap into evidence-based research within the fields of education, psychology (adolescent development), and social neuroscience to compellingly present why and how caring "whole school" environments, anchored by relational trust, can most optimally cultivate adolescents' positive learning and development in secondary schools. In paying attention to the vital importance of systematically supporting novice teachers' development of social-emotional skills and stress resilience, the authors attend to practice that is too often de-prioritized in schools. As they rightly assert, "how we support [novice teachers] to persevere and thrive will mirror our success, or failure, to do the same for whole teens." This book should be required reading for all involved in educator preparation and induction programs, including middle and high school leaders!" -- Deborah Donahue-Keegan, Ed.D., Lecturer at Tufts University Department of Education
"It is an honor to learn from the wonderful and important beliefs and strategies presented in this book. I will be incorporating many of the ideas in my teaching." -- Lyman Goding, Retired Principal
"At last we have a courageously written book that focuses on the needs of teens, versus the needs of the school systems. While this concept appears like revolutionary thinking, it is not. This is simply common sense whose time has come. The ideas and concepts advanced in this book promise to engage and motivate all students by strengthening their LOCUS of control, and quality of life." -- Jim Grant, Author, Consultant, Founder
"Teaching the Whole Teen provides educators and administrators a comprehensive resource for teaching our diverse student population. The authors cohesively weave together the various principles of working with a myriad of diverse student populations including those that are often overlooked by other authors and educational researchers. Educators who are interested in elevating their practice and increasing authentic student engagement from theory into action should read this book." -- Lisa Graham, MA, NBCT - Director, Special Education
"If you think Teaching the Whole Teen is just another book about how to communicate with teenagers, then think again. Poliner and Benson have written a manual for how to provide social-emotional support in culturally responsive ways. It explicitly addresses the unique needs of students of color, students from poverty, and immigrant students in ways that other books don't. It is full of practice tools and clear guidance. This book should be read by every middle and high school educator." -- Zaretta Hammond, Educational Consultant
"Finally, we have a book that applies the 'whole child' concept to the turbulent teenage years. In Teaching the Whole Teen, Rachel Poliner and Jeffrey Benson provide high school principals and teachers with a hands-on guide that applies the lessons of neuroscience and social-emotional learning to support healthy adolescent development and maximize learning."-- James Harvey, Executive Director
"'Cogent writing, smart content, practical insights, and not a word wasted: Reading Poliner and Benson's Teaching the Whole Teen is an unusually good use of an educator's time. Thankfully devoid of simplistic platitudes, the authors reflect real students and teachers and the challenges each group faces in their collective enterprise. Finally, we have a clear-minded, research-based education book written by veteran educators that annihilates the notion of "teen intellect" as oxymoronic, and fully respects the complex realities of modern adolescent lives and brain power.
Poliner and Benson get it, and we are better for it: Here, they've captured middle and high school students' quest to mature and connect with both people and content beautifully, and they provide powerful tools to help students and the adults in their lives carve the path forward. The authors prove middle and high school students' innate resolve to become independent, resilient individuals, even as they stumble in the effort, and the authors demonstrate how mentors can help students accept their current selves while aspiring to be something more.
Teaching the Whole Teen manifests the best thinking in modern education, including actionable steps on developing students' self-agency and self-regulation, and how to develop communication and executive function skills so vital to school and life success. Their candid approach doesn't pull any punches: They speak honestly of the bigger issues at play in adolescents' education: developing a sense of purpose, autonomy, the influences of dominant cultures, dealing with academic and personal setbacks, restorative justice, and developing a healthy work ethic. Thankfully, too, they provide specific responses to the needs of English Language Learners, students in rural communities, students and families in LGBTQ communities, and communities struggling with racial conflicts.
-- Rick Wormeli, Teacher, Writer, Education Consultant
Teaching the Whole Teen is the course all of us wanted to take as undergraduates in our schools of teacher education but was never offered. It answers the burning issues of student motivation, maturation, and how we can facilitate students' growth in school and at home. And hey, building leaders and novice teachers: There's specific material here for you!
From now on, when a middle or high school teacher asks me during an effective grading practices workshop how we can build responsibility, meaningful connection, personal fortitude, and healthy independence in today's students if we are no longer allowed to use grades to bribe them into compliance, I'm going to direct them to read Teaching the Whole Teen, then sit back and watch their faces light up in dawning realizations and teacher epiphanies. They'll finish the book, look up with conviction, and declare, "We can do this!""