When I was teaching in 1992, a big goal of mine was to keep students from sneaking a Discman into my class and listening to Nirvana, Dr. Dre, or Cypress Hill instead of listening to me. I admit it: I was no match for the amusement of Wayne’s World quotes. “No, Susan, I am not worthy.” If I could find a way to motivate students to turn in homework on time, my world would have been complete. Motivation and engagement are vital in guiding student success. Today, it is still one of my top priorities.
As a teacher, I implemented a character education program that provided recognition to students for doing their work. The “good kids” got recognized. Those playing “Insane in the Membrane” on repeat instead of listening in class remained unaffected. They did not seem to worry or care about the incentives that I provided. Over time, I came to realize that I was going to have to try something new. I was going to have to do better. What did work was learning more about the students’ music, showing an interest in their movies, and building relationships with them. They came to know my heart, and I came to know theirs. It was then that everything changed. It was then that everything shifted.
Fast forward more than fifteen years. Harry Potter was the most popular movie, and the Foo Fighters and Kanye West dominated the radio. I was no longer a teacher but now a superintendent who was still searching for ways to engage kids. I was pursuing my doctorate degree in a different kind of character education that aimed to engage students and forge connections with them. I remembered what I learned in the classroom, and it guided my course.
Everything comes back to relationships.
Over time, my goal evolved from kids turning in homework to helping kids understand their value as happy, hopeful, and engaged individuals. My research has proven that character begins with what’s right with students by knowing their strengths and identifying their passions. Engaged students who achieve in school and life are socially and emotionally savvy and prepared to navigate the world around them. In Wylie ISD, we call this combination of efforts to grow this kind of student The Wylie Way.
The Wylie Way is the foundation of our district. We believe that, if we focus on our students as whole people and equip them with what they need to succeed in life, we will graduate good people who go out and do good things. The Wylie Way is the sum of many parts: strengths and interests, plan and purpose, core ethical values, social and emotional health, and surrounding students with positive relationships. It is the fiber of our being; it is who we are.
Growing kids the Wylie Way is a priority. Because it’s important, we comprehensively, proactively, and intentionally take time to let kids learn more about themselves. It is so critical that we set aside days during the school year to make it happen. Wednesday, September 16, is the first of those days. Students will learn about themselves and the values that will help them navigate school and life.
Throughout the year, our Wylie Way curriculum will allow students the opportunity to learn about respect, responsibility, grit, hope, and gratitude. Want to know more about what’s happening with your child? Log on to their achievement profile and see what drives them. We know you will be excited to see their progress and share in their journey.
The Wylie Way is more than character education; it’s achievement education. Regardless of how many years have gone by, nothing has changed. If we want to engage students, we must foster relationships with them and give them the tools they need to flourish.
In Wylie ISD it is important for us to be measuring what truly matters. Our students are more than standardized test scores – they have hopes, feelings, and goals for the future. We want our kids to have access to a place to input all the amazing things about them. We have created an Achievement Profile for our students in grades 3-12 to do just that!
Have your child login to their Achievement Profile with you to learn about some great things going on with the kids! They just need their district username and password to login. You can see our list of the Top 5 reasons you should check out your child’s Achievement Profile by viewing our flyer.
What a privilege it is to walk alongside you as we support the children we serve. What a privilege it is to watch kids grow the Wylie Way!
Monday, September 21 @ 9:30.
If you are a member of Facebook, please join us for a Facebook live event as we record our Achieving Kids Podcast and discuss how we can support the social, emotional, and mental health of our kiddos!
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